Losers of four of their past five games, the New York Jets trek across the country trying to salvage their season against the Seahawks. Rex Ryan's team is 3-5 and under fire, and playing in one of the league's most hostile environments won't exactly provide a reprieve. But they have had an extra week to heal and address multiple issues on the offensive side of the ball. A win in Seattle would keep them alive in the second-half discussion, with the easiest part of their schedule coming over the final month of the season.
The Seahwaks got back on the winning track last week by taking care of the Vikings in the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field. It's well-known that Seattle has one of the best home field advantages in the league, and they're 4-0 at home this season. In their second year under Pete Carroll, Seattle has one of the better defenses in the league, using the crowd noise to rattle opponents. The Seahawks are two games behind the 49ers in the loss column, so this is a critical opportunity before their bye week.
Meet the Seahawks
Russell Wilson has taken the reins in his first season in Seattle and he's been praised for his leadership and intangibles, as the Seahawks have found a way to win on several comeback scenarios. But the Seahawks offense relies on the run, with Marshawn Lynch carrying the league's seventh-ranked rushing attack. Seattle averages 138.9 yards per game on the ground, and that's largely done on the back of Lynch. The original "Beast Mode" averages 4.8 yards per rush, and is second in the league with 881 yards on the ground. Lynch has to be looking forward to next week's bye, as he's nursing back and wrist injuries but is still probable for Week 11. The Jets have the 29th-ranked rush defense, so there should be opportunities for Lynch to add to his already impressive numbers.
The Seahawks have been relatively conservative with the rookie Wilson under center, throwing for just 173 yards per game -- good enough for last in the NFL. But Wilson has typically made the throws when his number is called, and that's been a key part of the Seahawks success at home. He's also a viable threat to run, and should find seams against the Jets defense. Wilson has yet to throw an interception at home, and he seems to be growing into the starting role in his first season -- limiting mistakes and hitting the big play when needed.
But the key reason for Seattle's success at home has to be their defense. The Seahawks get after opposing quarterbacks, with veteran Chris Clemons and rookie Bruce Irvin bearing down from the outside. Their 25 team sacks are the third highest total in the league, and the crowd noise at home certainly aids the ability to get off the ball. They also get significant push up the middle, led by Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant. The top 10 defense will be without key linebacker K.J. Wright, who was ruled out for the Jets game after sustaining a concussion last week. Adrian Peterson had a big day last week with Wright out of the game, but the Jets do not have the that kind of threat in the backfield.
Meet the Jets
The Jet stumble to Seattle, rested but coming off a disappointing and ugly five-game stretch. The offense has struggled under Mark Sanchez and has been unable to come up with big plays at crucial times, and the rush defense is yielding gaudy numbers to opposing backs. New York's biggest problems remain on the offensive side of the ball, ranking in the bottom third of the league in both the rush and pass.
Sanchez has been unable to protect the football, giving it away with interceptions and fumbles during New York's ugly month of October. The two-week break gave Tony Sparano more time to institute new looks with Tim Tebow, and it's expected that New York will throw some of those at the Seahawks this week. Showing the Seattle defense different formations is one way to throw them off at home, and the Jets will try to hit a couple big plays out of those varied looks. Seattle will undoubtedly pin their ears back and come hard at Sanchez, so mixing in Tebow could be a way to forestall that.
With the offense lacking any sort of explosiveness, Rex Ryan will have to rely on his defense to prevent the big play by Lynch and keep his team in it. Seattle doesn't exactly open it up, but New York's struggled to stop the run. Keying on Lynch is obviously a top priority, and that will start up front. The Seahawks offensive line has been impressive for much of the season, giving Lynch plenty of room to work with. New York's front seven will be called upon to keep the Jets close in what could be a conservatively called game on both sides.
Local Takes: Seahawks
SB Nation's excellent Seahawks blog, Field Gulls, discusses whether both coaches will go conservative with their offenses in Week 10:
As we saw at Cleveland last season, if both offenses are super-conservative having the "better" defense doesn't matter that much (unless the defense is creating huge field position advantages). Seattle wants to score enough to force the Jets to expose their offense to turnovers. So why might Seattle play a super-conservative offense, especially after the last two games? Well, Rex Ryan can stress blocking schemes in ways that put the onus on the QB to make good pre-snap reads and get out of bad plays. He can draw up some exotic craziness that requires a QB to not execute plays but to execute the playbook. To this point, Carroll has generally gone conservative when faced with that rather than ask Wilson to make many on-field adjustments.Rex Ryan has to feel like he can win a punt fest. The interesting question is whether Carroll will give him one willingly.
Local Takes: Jets
When I watch the Jets on film, it is alarming how frequently Mark Sanchez fails to see what the other team is doing before the snap. As much as people get on the offensive line, this is a huge part of the problem when it comes to protection. People say, "How can Sanchez be expected to play well when he's not getting protection," but Sanchez is a huge part of the problem when the protection is bad. Nobody is Peyton Manning. I'm not expecting Sanchez to know every single thing the defense does. But he might be the worst in the league from what I've seen adjusting at the line.
What this probably means is either he's either not putting in the work in the film room or he just can't grasp essential concepts for playing his position successfully.
Follow the Fun
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Rex Ryan Hot Seat Meter sbn.to/SRTI2f— Gang Green Nation (@GangGreenNation) November 9, 2012
@DannyONeil -- Seahawks beat writer
LB K.J. Wright, G James Carpenter ruled out for Sunday's game.— Danny O'Neil (@dannyoneil) November 9, 2012
@MMehtaNYDN -- Jets beat writer
The Jets have lost to some impressive teams: Steelers, 49ers, Texans, Patriots and Dolphins. You just wish those games were spread out over the season more because at 3-5, the Jets look sunk. I don't know how they'll score against the Seahawks, who have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Mark Sanchez won't be lighting them up.The pick: 21-9, Seahawks
The Seahawks opened as 5½-point favorites, and according to OddsShark, that has gone up to six points at most books.
The Seahawks will enjoy their bye week before flying across the country for a Week 12 game in Miami. The Jets stay on the road in the NFC West, with a Week 11 clash against the Rams.