Tale Of The Tape: New York Jets At Baltimore Ravens
- QuarterbackThe Jets are up one week and down the next. They have alternated wins and losses since the first week of the season, and after losing at Buffalo in Week 11, they should be due for a victory here. However, Geno Smith is going to have a huge game to get the best of the experienced Ravens’ defense. Smith struggles to read coverages and is coming off a three-interception game against the Bills.The Ravens should be thrilled to come home after playing in the wind and rain and near tornado-like conditions in Chicago. Nobody should be happier than quarterback Joe Flacco, as he will have a chance to throw under (presumably) normal weather conditions. Flacco has not had a stellar year, but he knows how to stand in the pocket and fire an accurate pass when the game is on the line.
- OffenseThe Jets have to establish their running game in order to have a chance against the hard-hitting Ravens. Chris Ivory had a 98-yard rushing game against Buffalo and he has become the Jets’ primary ball carrier after Bilal Powell had that role earlier this year. Santonio Holmes returned to the lineup and while he can stretch the defense, he rarely plays consistently.The Ravens were encouraged by the play of running back Ray Rice against Chicago. His 47-yard run in the first quarter displayed the quickness and balance that has been missing all season. Torrey Smith is an excellent big-play weapon who can also make the tough catch in traffic. Veteran tight end Dallas Clark will not let Flacco down on third downs. Tandon Doss is an emerging talent with explosive speed.
- DefenseThe Jets have been one of the better defensive teams in the league this year and they will need their eighth-ranked defense to rise up if they are going to stop the Ravens on their homefield. Linebacker David Harris is the team’s leading tackler and he is rarely out of position. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is one of the most surprising players in the league and he leads New York in sacks.The Ravens’ defense has improved steadily after playing poorly at the start of the season. They are especially effective against quarterbacks who lack know-how and maturity, and that description fits Smith to a tee. Look for Terrell Suggs to bounce back after a poor effort against Chicago and torment the Jets’ rookie quarterback. Linebacker Daryl Smith is a dependable tackler.
- Special TeamsThe Jets have had a special year on “teams.” They do an excellent job in coverage and they have solid returners who can break big plays. Their best special-teams asset may be placekicker Nick Folk, who didn’t miss his first FG attempt until Week 11.The Ravens also do an excellent job on special teams and they have gotten a lift from Doss, who has broken a punt return for an 82-yard score. Jacoby Jones is a threat on kickoff returns, while Justin Tucker has one of the strongest and most dependable legs in the league.
The Jets have shown the ability to bounce back all season and that pattern will be put to the test in Baltimore. The Ravens dominate in their home stadium in November and December. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor