By Rich Bergeron
In our NFL lock of the week, the New York Jets (1-4) will take their home field Sunday against the Denver Broncos (3-1) and attempt to turn around what’s been a miserable season so far. Coach Rex Ryan’s job may be on the line if this team keeps losing games with no discernible signs of improvement. Over the past week since the Jets were demolished in San Diego, Former All-Star Michael Vick admitted he wasn’t taking his practice duties seriously. Given the chance to rise to the occasion and rescue his team last Sunday, Vick went out and flopped in his 2014 debut. He took the blame on his shoulders, and Ryan will go right back to Starter Geno Smith (86-148, 949 yards, 4 TDs, 6 INTs, 8 sacks) this week.
Broncos vs Jets – NFL Betting Line from Bovada:
- Point Spread: Broncos -10, Jets +10
- Money Line: Broncos -425, Jets +325
- Over/Under: 48 points, Over -105, Under -115
Meanwhile, few could blame Peyton Manning (105-158, 1,293 yards, 12 TDs, 3 INTs) and the Denver Broncos for expecting to win this game handily. Manning is not distracted this year by an ominous undefeated run, and only the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks were able to beat this team so far. Even then, it took an overtime frame. Manning is putting the finishing touches on a tremendous career, knocking off one milestone after another with each new game he plays. He’s just five touchdown passes shy of Brett Favre’s 508 career touchdowns record. The Jets are tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for giving up the second-most passing scores this season (12) with just one team interception, so Manning just might set the new mark this week if he has a decent day at the office.
All credible evidence leads to the conclusion that the New York Jets will run into the Denver Broncos this week like a moped crashing head-on into a freight train. Peyton Manning’s passing game dominates this team’s offensive output with the running game accounting for just 318 total yards on the season with two touchdowns on the ground. The Denver defense isn’t invincible, but it does the job and allows the offense to create that key separation nine times out of ten.
The only secret weapon that may emerge for the Jets is Eric Decker, a talented wide receiver who spent his first four seasons in Denver before transitioning to the Jets in the off-season. Can Decker burn his old team like Steve Smith burned the Panthers late last month? He sat out last week with a hamstring injury, but Decker is still the team’s leading receiver with 204 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 catches. Geno Smith might be able to use the wideout as a crutch to limp back into the spotlight this week, but can a good day from Decker against his old team carry his own squad to a win? It seems unlikely at best.
The Jets are also solid against the run, which Denver obviously doesn’t rely on to win games. The one stat Denver might worry about is the 17 sacks put up by the Jets defense. If the Jets can step up their defensive front and notch a few interceptions to go with all those sacks, they might make a game of it. Emphasis on might.
Prediction: Manning gets the job done, throwing for five of his team’s six touchdowns on the day. The Broncos win 48-20 as Decker dazzles just enough to redeem Geno Smith. Unfortunately for the Jets, Decker’s great day pales in comparison to Denver’s Emmanuel Sanders (32 receptions, 435 yards), who catches two of the five Manning TD passes. The Jets put together a decent running game, but they just can’t get things going in the red zone and can’t win the field position battle. Rex Ryan’s odds of getting fired could increase exponentially if the team loses this one by a really wide margin.