Looking to stay undefeated on the road and remain among the AFC’s top teams, the Jets can’t afford to travel to Detroit on Sunday and play as if they’re still on an extended bye week (1 p.m., CBS).
Matthew Stafford returned from a shoulder injury last week, threw four touchdowns and rallied the Lions (2-5) to a fourth-quarter comeback against Washington. His final touchdown was a go-ahead pass on 4th-and-1 to 10th-ranked receiver Calvin Johnson with 3:15 remaining. The Lions offense he commands aren’t the pushovers of years passed.
Although the Jets (5-2) are better than the Redskins, Detroit’s victim last Sunday, Gang Green must avoid predictability to keep their six-game road winning streak (which extends to last December) alive.
Take a reel Schott
Green Bay defensive backs Tramon Williams and Nick Collins credited film study in identifying the Jets’ offensive tendencies in last week’s shutout. With the offense performing poorly in Gang Green’s last two outings, coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has to look beyond his run-pass-pass strategy, and Mark Sanchez needs to be more willing to look down field instead of relying on check-downs and quick slants.
Put on the pound
To run an efficient “Ground & Pound” offense, Shonn Greene will need more than the six carries he received last week. While LaDainian Tomlinson stumbled through 16 carries, Green lost four potential touches to Brad Smith’s Wildcat and Jerricho Cotchery’s botched reverse, which resulted in an eight-yard loss. With Tomlinson’s cutback lanes sealed and Sanchez being dared to throw, using Greene’s physicality at the line of scrimmage could create opportunities against Detroit’s 27th-ranked rush defense.
Suiting up for Suh
More impressive than the third-ranked rush attack they facilitate, the Jets’ offensive line has allowed only 11 sacks and a meager 15 hits on Sanchez. Ball protection will be key as the line tries to stagger rookie phenom Ndamukong Suh, who leads the Lions with 6 1/2 sacks. Suh’s ability to collapse the pocket has helped defensive ends Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril combine for another seven sacks. Overall, Detroit’s pass rush is No. 6 in the NFL, with 23 sacks, and the defense is No. 6 in takeaways with 17.
Star cornerback Darrelle Revis, fully recovered from an aching hamstring, normally plays well against more physical receivers, and Detroit has one of the league’s best. Calvin “Megatron” Johnson’s 538 receiving yards are fourth in the NFC and his eight scores tie him at second in the NFL. If Revis can handle Johnson alone, Jets safeties can cover the next two leading receivers, running back Jahvid Best and tight end Brandon Pettigrew — both of whom thrive on mismatches against linebackers.