The New York Jets, the loudest 3-6 team in the NFL, travel to St. Louis to take on the 3-5-1 Rams Sunday. The Jets will be trying to quell the locker room dysfunction that seemed to reach critical mass earlier this week when Jets players, anonymously or, in Shonn Greene and Matt Slauson's case, openly voicing their opinions about the Tim Tebow-Mark Sanchez controversy.
As much as the broadcasters will likely wax on about it, and as long as ESPN will talk about it, it won't matter when the teams take the field Sunday. The Rams are a beatable, but talented team, and the Jets have had moments where they've looked dominant, in blowout wins over the Bills and Colts.
While the Jets are likely out of the mix for the playoffs this year, barring an historic season turnaround, Sanchez could do a lot to quiet his doubters — some of them, anyway — if he can string together several solid performances to end the season. A loss to the Rams to fall to 3-7 will only make the noise grow louder.
Meet the Rams
The Rams have been showing a little more life recently. They tied the San Francisco 49ers in their last game, stopping a three-game losing streak that included a 45-7 loss to the New England Patriots before they went on their bye. The Rams have some idea of who they are; they can pound the ball with Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola has among the most reliable hands in the league, and they'll go as far as Sam Bradford can take them. Just how far that is is the primary concern for fans and members of the team alike.
The Rams may be a little shorthanded on defense as linebacker Mario Haggan is questionable, as are Eugene Sims and Darian Stewart. The defense isn't the Rams' main concern Sunday — the Jets offense is just that bad — they'll just have to make sure their offense can score a couple touchdowns, and recent history has shown that will be enough to beat the Jets.
Meet the Jets
Anonymous sources within the New York Jets locker room tell SB Nation that Rex Ryan's gang is 3-6 and increasingly likely to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Through nine games, quarterback Mark Sanchez is having the worst season of his career, both in on-field concerns and the divided nature of the locker room. Much of the attention has been artificially heaped on this team because of the attention surrounding the backup quarterback, Tim Tebow, who has apparently been "terrible" in practice.
As bad as Tebow may be in practice, what he does there has little impact on the product on game days, where the Jets have been downright awful. They haven't been helped by season-ending injuries to Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes, not to mention a banged-up backfield behind Shonn Greene. However, the Jets have been putting together less and less of a complete effort in their recent games, their last two blowout losses at the hands of the Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks.
Local Takes: Rams
Tyler Bishop from Turf Show Times warns Rams fans to not take the Jets lightly.
The Jets are not a good football team, but don't confuse that with the Jets being a bad football team. The media in New York is a fickle mistress. The media there would have you believe that the Jets players are simply going to show up in St. Louis on Sunday and all have simultaneous heart attacks. This will likely not be the case. The Jets have their back up against the wall, and you have to expect that they will be giving their best effort of the season. Rams fans should know this better than anyone, as we have been one of those "bad" teams that in recent years has leveled a heavily favored team once in a blue moon (see New Orleans vs. St. Louis, 2011).
Local Takes: Jets
Jets blogger Smackdad (great name) at Gang Green Nation thinks there's reason for optimism in Mark Sanchez's season so far.
Mark has been something of a Jekyll and Hyde passer. He has 6 performances with a QBR of 67 or less, averaging an abysmal 54 during those 6 outings. He has 3 performances with a QBR of 90 or more, averaging a HOFesque 107 during those 3 games.
Now here comes the silver lining. The six games where he has been horrid came against the NFL's 2,3,4,5, 9 and 9 rated pass defenses in terms of opposing QBRs. It is hardly surprising that he struggled against one after another elite pass defense, though the depths of those struggles have been unacceptably low.
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
and to answer the deluge of Rams to LA questions. No, our sources maintain team is moving to Moon Base #584 in 2016.— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) November 16, 2012
#NobodyLikes the Patriots......— Gang Green Nation (@GangGreenNation) November 17, 2012
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Rams reporter Jim Thomas
Stat of the week: Rams punter Johnny Hekker has more passing yards this season (42), than Jets quarterback Tim Tebow (40).— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) November 16, 2012
New York Daily News Jets reporter Manish Mehta
Rex Ryan says it feels like "forever" since the Jets last won. "We need a win desperately.... We're desperate for a win." #nyj— Manish Mehta(@MMehtaNYDN) November 16, 2012
The Jets have been an unmitigated disaster recently, but, other than the surprising tie last week against the 49ers, so have the Rams. It would be great for Jets fans if Mark Sanchez were the type of player to respond to excess criticism and doubts with a classic, show-me performance, but he's had four years in the league and maybe two or three games like that. I have little confidence in the Rams either, but they're at home, so I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Rams 17, Jets 13
The line was close to start the week, but no one is betting on the Jets. The Rams are now 3.5-point favorites on Oddsshark.com.
After the Rams take on the Jets, they'll have a road game against the division rival Arizona Cardinals. The Jets will have a short turnaround before taking on their biggest rival, the Patriots, in the annual night game on Thanksgiving.