By Tyson Rauch
The next stop on the New York Jets (5-5) roller coaster ride is Baltimore where the team will be taking on a very desperate Ravens (4-6) team. Baltimore lost to the Bears on Sunday, which put the team on the brink of being eliminated from playoff contention. Gang Green can expect to face a very aggressive, physical, Ravens team that will be fueled by a raucous home crowd.
The Baltimore Ravens offense has struggled this season with both running back Ray Rice and quarterback Joe Flacco having substandard years. Rice is only averaging three yards per carry while Flacco has thrown as many touchdowns (13) as he has interceptions.
The Jets defense will look to shut down Rice and the running game and force Flacco to make plays in the passing game. The Ravens quarterback has an excellent deep threat in Torrey Smith (785 receiving yards, avg 17.1 per catch) who could take advantage of the struggling Jets secondary. Keep an eye on the match-up between Smith and New York defensive back Antonio Cromartie.
Another physical defense
The Jets offense faces another stiff challenge this week as the Baltimore defense is very good against both the run (11th) and the pass (13th). In order to be effective against the Ravens, the offensive line must play at a much higher level. Gang Green’s line was manhandled by the Bills, which all but took the team out of the game early. The Jets line must win the battles in the trenches in order to establish the running game and to take some pressure off of Geno Smith. There will be a lot of pressure on the tackles as they try to contain Terrell Suggs (9 sacks) and Elvis Dumervil (8.5 sacks).
There is a good chance that this will be a low scoring, physical game which will put a premium on field position and ball control. Geno Smith and the Jets offense must do a better job of putting together time-consuming drives and avoiding costly mistakes and turnovers. The Ravens are going to come after the Jets rookie quarterback and the offense better be ready to handle the heat and make the defense pay for their aggressiveness. Look for New York to incorporate the tight ends into the game plan as both Kellen Winslow and Jeff Cumberland have the ability to loosen up the defense.
Bring back the swagger
The Jets are a bit battered and beaten following their embarrassing loss to the Bills. Head coach Rex Ryan better rally his troops and have them ready to play as they are going to have their hands full with the Ravens. Coach John Harbaugh is going to try to set the tone early for Baltimore and the Jets should look to throw the first punch. This is not the type of game to play scared. This is a match-up where you bring everything you got to secure the victory.
It is put up or shut up time for a New York Jets team that likes to boast about how physical they can play on both sides of the ball. Actions will speak louder than words on Sunday in Baltimore.
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Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.