The New York Jets and the Seattle Seahawks share many things in common. They both have a member of the Trufant family on their roster and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has coached both teams in the NFL, while also coaching Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez at USC. However, the game at Century-Link Field on Sunday may come down to another similar trait both teams share: third down conversions.
Both teams are ranked near the bottom of the NFL in defending on third down. The Seahwawks are ranked 27th in the league in third down defense, allowing first downs 42.7% of the time. The Jets third down conversion defense is even worse at 45.0% and ranks 30th. With numbers such as these, it is difficult to believe how highly the Jets defense was touted coming into the season.
On the offensive side of the ball, neither team has fared much better on the most important down in football. The Jets rank 17th in third down conversions at 39.5% while Seattle is at a dismal 32.7%, ranking them 26th in the league. With numbers such as these, one can say this is a matchup of the third down have-nots.
As any football coach will tell you, the biggest key to converting third downs is gaining good yardage on first and second downs and not putting your offensive unit in a hole with third and long. The key for the Jets will be to put the clamps on Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who is second in the NFL in rushing 881 yards behind Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings. The task for the Seahawks defense is less daunting, as they will have to contain a Jets rushing game led by Shonn Greene, who has only gained 509 yards rushing with a skimpy 3.7 yards per rush.
Seeing that neither Mark Sanchez nor Russell Wilson are capable of carrying their teams with their passing arms, it appears this game will come down to who wins the war in the trenches. Since neither team has a particularly outstanding rush defense (both allowing 4.4 yard per rush), one of them will have to come up big to propel their team to victory.
If the Jets lose this game and go to 3-6, it could signal the end of their playoff hopes for this season. The situation is a bit less desperate for the Seahawks, as they currently sit in second place in the NFC West with a 5-4 record.
The Seahawks are undefeated at home this season (4-0) and have some of the loudest fans in the league. As a result, the Jets will certainly have their work cut out for them if they want to get back into the AFC playoff hunt.
With Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie pulling a Joe Namath earlier in the week and guaranteeing a Jet playoff appearance, it is time for the Gang Green to put up or shut up.