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Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons: Gang Green faces a tough challenge

Quinton Coples celebrates after he tackled C.J. Spiller

Quinton Coples celebrates after he tackled C.J. Spiller of the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Sept. 9, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Although the Jets (2-2) have a better record than their Week 5 opponents, the Falcons (1-3), oddsmakers know what fans should be aware of: Atlanta — favored by 9.5 points — is a better team. That doesn’t make Monday’s task at the Georgia Dome impossible, but it won’t be a cakewalk. Here’s what the Jets must be aware of if they hope to push back above .500.

Potent passing

Despite just the one win, quarterback Matt Ryan isn’t what’s holding them back. He’s completing 66.5% of his passes, with an 8-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. It helps that he’s got elite targets such as Julio Jones (33 receptions, 481 yards, 2 TDs) and Tony Gonzalez (23 receptions, 242 yards, 3 TDs). Antonio Cromartie and the Jets secondary must bring its “A” game.

No Jackson in action

Atlanta will be without starting running back Steven Jackson for the third consecutive game. Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling have tried to fill his void, but it hasn’t translated into wins. The Jets are fourth in the NFL against the run, so this is a great opportunity to make Atlanta a one-dimensional offense.

Breaking the brick wall

The Jets and Falcons have this much in common: Both can stuff the run with the best of them. At least the Jets have found a capable running back — at least for the time being — in Bilal Powell (4.4 yards per carry). Powell must move the chains and take pressure off quarterback Geno Smith, who had a rough outing (four turnovers) in last week’s loss to the Titans.

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