49ers @ Jets: Rebounding in the Rain
Week four is set to kick off, and there are a number of matchups to keep an eye on as rain is expected to hit the East Coast throughout weekend. The San Francisco 49ers are traveling to MetLife stadium to take on the New York Jets. Both teams are looking to improve to three wins on the season. The last time these two teams met in a regular season game was back in 2008, when the Niners were able to put away the Jets 24-14 at Candlestick. Sunday’s game will likely see showers in East Rutherford, mainly overcast with a high near 72.
Both teams are expected to play a physical style of ballgame in this weather, with the defenses taking center stage. The 49ers are bitter coming off an upset loss to the Vikings last week. San Francisco tried to air it out against Minnesota after falling behind early and could not recover. Expect the 49ers to return to smash mouth football and run the ball, rain or shine. Even with star cornerback Darrelle Revis out for the season, Harbaugh will feed his running backs to open up the field for Alex Smith. A key matchup to watch for is going to be the Jets front seven against the 49ers running game. If Gang Green can stop the run and force Alex Smith to make unwanted throws in the rain, they can limit San Francisco’s offensive production. The Jets offense also struggled last week going up against a tough Dolphins squad in the humid Miami heat. The return of Jets tight end Dustin Keller will be key. The 49ers defense has given up a touchdown to opposing tight end’s every week this season so keep an eye on Keller’s offensive performance.
With rain in the forecast, expect the Jets offense to play a variety of personnel to try to get things going on offense. However, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will look to counter that by putting more pressure on quarterback mark Sanchez. Expect this to be a close game in the rain. But if the weather does clear up, the 49ers will run away with this one.
09/30/2012 01:00 PM
Redskins at Buccaneers: Opportunity - Rain or Shine
Another game to be impacted by these weather storms on the East Coast will be the
Washington Redskins at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This game will be held at Raymond
James Stadium, a field known for having one of the best natural grass surfaces in the league.
NFLWeather.com forecasts a slight chance of thunderstorms, but mostly sunny skies, and highs
in the upper eighties. If rain does enter the forecast, humidity will still exhaust the defenses.
The Redskins offense has been phenomenal this year, led by impressive rookie quarterback
Robert Griffin III. Washington just signed running back Ryan Grant to accompany an already
crowded backfield. Even though the Redskins face the number one rated rush defense this
week, don’t expect them to abandon the run. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will look to
utilize all of his weapons on the ground if thunderstorms occur. Of course, his weapons on the
ground include RGIII.
The Bucs pass defense has been another story. Ranked last in the NFL, opposing quarterbacks
have been averaging over 350 yards passing against Tampa. (These numbers are a little
skewed due to a bad fourth quarter against the Giants.) If receiver Pierre Garcon returns to
action Sunday, expect RG3 to have a great day through the air to go along with his usual yards
on the ground.
On the other side of the ball, the Bucs offense has been struggling to remain consistent this
season. This week, they face an ideal matchup to finally break out. The Redskins defense has
failed to keep opposing offenses under thirty points in each of the first three weeks and they
have lost both Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker for the year with injuries. Rain or shine, expect
the Buccaneers to pound the ball with Doug Martin and try to wear down the Redskins defense
in this humidity. Expect this game to be a high scoring affair, even in a humid downpour.
09/30/2012 04:15 PM
Patriots @ Bills: Division Rivals Look for Air Superiority.
When New England heads to Buffalo, both sides will take to the air against two very
stout rush defenses, even in an expected rain storm. With a 60% chance of rain and the
possibility of thunderstorms after 11AM as reported by NFLWeather.com, up to a half
inch of precipitation is likely to accumulate on Ralph Wilson Stadium’s soggy artificial
surface. Winds of 6/mph from the Southeast mean a damp, heavy football could hinder
the long kicking game. Rian Lindell hasn’t attempted a 50+ yard field since 2010 while
Stephen Gostkowski is already two-for-two this year.
The Bills’ offensive line has allowed only a single sack in three games while averaging
178 rushing yards yards per game and over five yards per carry. However, both C.J.
Spiller (shoulder) and Fred Jackson (knee) are listed as questionable with the latter the
likely starter. Tashard Choice is on hand if needed but Buffalo’s success a season ago
was found passing against the Pats(1-2). Even in the expected downpour, Ryan
Fitzpatrick needs to do much better through the air.
Last season was Buffalo’s first win over New England since 2003. Ryan Fitzpatrick
dropped back 40 times to pass, meanwhile only handing it off 16 times. They exploited a
dismal secondary on a cloudy Buffalo day a year ago and they’ll try to do the same on
Sunday. This time around, they’re up against an unproven secondary that is 24th against
the pass (262 ypg) but the unit is seventh against the run (81 ypg). The impact of the
rain likely won’t factor into the number of Fitzpatrick’s attempts but it will limit the deep
ball opportunities. He’ll likely be making a number of short timing routes following quick
three and five step drops.
The same can be said for Tom Brady and company, who always seem to thrive in
poor weather conditions. Despite tossing four interceptions in the loss last season, the
Pats’ offense still broke positive franchise records in the passing game. Brady tossed
four TD’s on the game and 387 yards, but the performance was headlined by the costly
turnovers. With a duo of dinged up tight ends (Hernandez is out but Gronkowski and his
sore hip are likely to play), Welker should finally see more looks behind Brandon Lloyd
who will remain Brady’s top target.
Either way, the Bills new look front four is tenacious and tied for seventh in the NFL with
six forced turnovers, pressuring opposing QB’s into poor decisions. Lots of pressure
means hurried passes so receivers will have to be alert and ready with a wet football
zipping their way in the short passing game. Fewest turnovers and victory in the
trenches will ensure a much needed win for one of these AFC East clubs.
09/30/2012 01:00 PM
Chris Lovi & Will Strome
NFP (at) NFLWeather.com