Week 14: Jets-Jaguars preview

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

New York Jets at Jacksonville
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at EverBank Stadium, Jacksonville - TV: CBS; DirecTV: 711
*TV announcers: Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots
*Keys to the game: Quarterbacks will be the story in the pregame buildup. How they're defended is the reason this game is largely irrelevant in the NFL's big picture. The Jets are giving up first downs on almost 42 percent of third downs. A team that thrived because of its linebacker blitzes isn't getting to the quarterback and coverage in the secondary isn't as fail-proof without All-Pro Darrelle Revis. Drops hurt Chad Henne's stat line in Week 13 at Buffalo. He's making the most of a mixed bag of receiving options -- waterbug Cecil Shorts and red-zone threat Justin Blackmon -- but neither player was at full health last week. Without more from a piecemeal running back committee that managed 49 yards on 15 carries last week, Henne will be susceptible to stunts and heavy blitzes if the Jets sell out to shrink the pocket. The Jets' quarterback situation is fluid. Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions last week and was benched in favor of Greg McElroy, technically the No. 3 quarterback. Tim Tebow could be ready to play, but sat out with a rib injury last week and fits the run-first offensive design. Tackling has been a problem of late for Jacksonville, as exhibited last week at Buffalo in both phases of the defense. The Jaguars added defensive end Jason Babin via waivers last week. He had one tackle behind the line of scrimmage in his debut, but he's not a cure-all for a pass rush averaging only about one sack per game.
*Matchup to watch - Jets RBs Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell vs. Jaguars MLB Paul Posluszny: Posluszny will also draw some work against TE Dustin Keller, a prime target in the Jets' conservative offense. He'll need a big game to stop a determined running game which produced 177 rushing yards last week.
*Player spotlight - Babin: The 32-year-old isn't the first reclamation project tried by the Jaguars -- Hugh Douglas, Aaron Kampman -- who've had a seasons-long trend of not producing sacks despite heavily investing to improve in that area.
*Fast facts: The Jaguars will finish without a winning record for the fifth straight season. ... The Jets are 15-1 under coach Rex Ryan when they rush for 150-plus.
Much depends on the makeup of the Jets' offense. If Mark Sanchez makes his 48th consecutive start for New York and his psyche isn't damaged by last week's benching, the Jets win in a physical game decided by the field goal kickers.
*Our pick: Jets 15-12

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