By Jerrell Richardson
New York Jets (2-1)
Head Coach: Rex Ryan
When the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets clash on Sunday, both teams will be trying to stay above .500. The season is still very young, but there is a big difference between 3-1 and 2-2, and with neither team in a position where they can afford to drop a game, this promises to be a hard-fought contest.
San Francisco proved last week that there are no easy win games, and this will certainly ring true with the Jets, who are coming off a win last week and have their secret weapon lying in wait. However, if last week served as a wake up call to the more-talented 49ers, then not even Tim Tebow will be able to save the Jets’ day.
The Jets, despite their 2-1 record, have not been the defensive-minded team that most would expect entering the season. They find themselves ranked 28th against the run and a more-than-respectable 11th against the pass, but these figures are well off their normal dominance. Their inability to stop the run does not bode well for them in this match-up. After San Francisco inexplicably handed the ball only 12 times to Frank Gore last week, the Jets can be certain that they are going to get a healthy dose of the team’s workhorse.
In regards to the 49ers and their passing game, the Jets will be at a disadvantage without Pro-Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, who was lost for the year after suffering a torn ACL in last week’s win over the Dolphins. After failing to show anything through the air last week, the 49ers are in a prime position to get back on track against a under-manned secondary. They have no excuse if they struggle as they have at times this year.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has been a glaring weakness for the Jets in the past, and this year is no exception. The Jets are averaging 230 yards per game in the air and a little over a 100 on the ground which is around middle of the pack in both categories, but it’s not very impressive when considering their offensive explosion they had in Week One when they scored 48 points. The 49ers struggled at times as a unit last week defensively, so although it appears that they should have no problem shutting down Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense, the same was assumed about Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder who shredded the 49ers in Week Three.
The real show though will be when New York’s Tim Tebow is on the field. For a team with no real big name, the main attraction is the backup quarterback. The main reason why the Jets are relevant is that fans are watching to see if Sanchez will play well enough to keep his backup on the sideline, or if this be a game that Tebow is asked to save the day? Tebow has not even attempted a pass this year, and has seen less action then anticipated, but that’s the unknown that teams must prepare for when facing the Jets. Tebow will certainly be asked to run the wildcat, but the 49ers have a great linebacking core that can match Tebow in his physicality and speed.
Despite a rather boring roster, the Jets are not to be taken lightly. They playing at home, so it will be interesting to see if they play inspired ball in the absence of their best player, Revis. The 49ers can be vulnerable when they fall behind, so it will be important for the Jets to come out flying and for the 49ers to keep them grounded. Whichever team comes out in the first half and plays their style and tempo will have a great chance of leaving the game 3-1.
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