The New York Jets are facing a crossroads in Week 5, as they sit at 2-2 following a blowout loss to the Tennessee Titans. Unfortunately, this week they must travel to the Georgia Dome to play the Atlanta Falcons, who are a horrible matchup for the Jets. The Falcons may be struggling this season, but their strengths are the Jets’ weaknesses, and that will come back to haunt New York.
The Jets have one of the top run defenses in the NFL, but their pass defense has not matched that standard. The Jets rank 9th in the NFL in pass defense, but they were just shredded by the combination of Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to Nate Washington, Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter.
If the Jets couldn’t stop that group, one can only imagine what Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez will do to them. The Falcons are 3rd in the NFL in passing offense this season, and Jones leads the league in receiving yards. Antonio Cromartie will have his hands full and then some in this matchup, and it will be a monumental task to slow Jones down.
On the other side, White is getting healthy, and he will have the clear advantage over whoever of Dee Milliner, Darrin Walls and Kyle Wilson covers him. Inside, Demario Davis and Dawan Landry have done an excellent job this season, but they’ve yet to face a tight end anywhere near the caliber of Gonzalez.
Switching to the other side of the ball, the Jets are most effective when they can establish the run and use their passing game to complement that. This slows the pass rush and takes the pressure to move the ball off of Geno Smith. However, the best way to beat the Falcons’ defense is through the air, as they rank 8th in run defense but just 27th in pass defense.
That means that if the Jets want to win, Smith is going to have to make throws down the field and avoid turnovers. Of course, the Jets will be without Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill, making this task far more challenging. Smith has also been extremely turnover prone, and the noisy Georgia Dome won’t help matters.
The Jets want to take advantage of the struggling Falcons and spring the upset, but there is very little chance of that happening. You couldn’t design a worse matchup for the Jets than the Falcons, and expect Atlanta to fully take advantage of that.