Jets QB Mark Sanchez needs a performance similar to his last against the Jaguars when he completed over 70 percent of his passes in a 32-3 rout early in the 2011 season.
After subpar 2011 seasons at the quarterback position, both the Jaguars and Jets made moves to help the position. The Jaguars signed former Dolphins starter Chad Henne to back up Blaine Gabbert and the Jets traded for former Broncos starter Tim Tebow to back up Mark Sanchez. Neither quarterback situations have worked out as planned.
For the Jaguars it's one of the many reasons why the team is 2-10 and eliminated from the playoffs, but in the race for the No. 1 selection in the 2013 NFL Draft. The Jets haven't been quite as unfortunate and still have a chance to pull themselves into contention. To do so, though, the team will first have to go and take care of business in Jacksonville.
Meet the Jaguars
In the immediate time after an injury forced Blaine Gabbert out of the lineup for the Jaguars, Chad Henne was very successful. He accumulated 354 passing yards and four touchdowns against the Texans before throwing for 261 against the Titans with two touchdowns in a victory.
Against the Bills, though, Henne looked very much like the inconsistent quarterback who was a distant second to Gabbert in preseason and training camp. He completed just 45.2 percent of his passes and finished with a 57.8 passer rating. With a host of injuries that will force Montell Owens to start at running back and take leading receiver Cecil Shorts III out of the lineup, Henne will have to bounce back for the Jaguars offense to find success.
The Jaguars could also be helped if Jason Babin has a similar game as the one he had when he last played the Jets. While with the Eagles in December 2011, Babin tied his career best with three sacks against the Jets.
Meet the Jets
It would be an understatement to say that the 2012 season hasn't gone as planned for Mark Sanchez. After a decent start to the season, the Jets were embarrassed by the Patriots on Thanksgiving and the former first round pick threw three interceptions against the Cardinals a week later. His 21.4 quarterback rating was enough for head coach Rex Ryan to replace him in the game with second-year quarterback Greg McElroy.
While McElroy threw only seven passes, he completed the only touchdown of the game and led the Jets to victory. It wasn't enough to earn him a starting role against the Jaguars, although it doesn't bode particularly well for Sanchez's future with the team. What Sanchez needs is a performance similar to his last against the Jaguars when he completed over 70 percent of his passes in a 32-3 rout early in the 2011 season.
The player to watch on the Jets defense will be Antonio Cromartie, the cornerback that will likely be lined up against Justin Blackmon on Sunday. With Shorts out of the lineup, the veteran defensive back can deliver a serious blow to the Jaguars offense if he can limit Blackmon the way that Bills CB Stephon Gilmore did in Week 13.
Local Takes: Jaguars
Alfie Crow from Big Cat Country says that contributions from Justin Blackmon are even more important than usual with the absence of Cecil Shorts III:
It's also likely that the New York Jets are going to stick Antonio Cromartieon Blackmon for much of the day to try to shut him down. With Darrell Revis out, Cromartie has been by far the Jets best defensive back and is having a fantastic season so far. It's unlikely Blackmon will be able to get downfield on Cromartie, but the Jaguars can take advantage of Cromarties weakness by forcing him to play laterally against Blackmon, working crossers and slant routes.
Local Takes: Jets
Smackdad from Gang Green Nation says that Jets fans need to look at the season thus far with some perspective:
So, if you had been told before the season started that the Jets would lose all of that talent to injury, then would go out and face by far the toughest schedule in the NFL the first 12 weeks, what record would you have predicted for them overall? If the prediction before was 10-6 or 11-5, is it fair to say that an 8-8 finish would not have been unexpected, given the injury problems?
Follow the Fun
Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Big Cat Country and Gang Green Nation, for more analysis and highlights from the game.
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
Big Cat Country manager, @AlfieBCC
The day I am not the biggest ass on twitter. /marks calendar— Alfie Crow (@AlfieBCC) December 7, 2012
MCELROY IS THE GREATEST QUARTERBACK ALIVE.— Gang Green Nation (@GangGreenNation) December 2, 2012
Jaguars beat writer, @RyanOHalloran
Scobee on kickoff stuff: "It’s call FOOT-ball for a reason. Now it would be, ‘What time does the fourth-and-15 or the punt start?’"— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) December 7, 2012
Jets beat writer, @MMehtaNYDN
Mark Sanchez is partly culpable for Jets' offensive struggles this season, but No. 1 problem is a severe lack of talent around him. #nyj— Manish Mehta(@MMehtaNYDN) December 7, 2012
These teams have two of the three saddest quarterback situations (Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn agree). I would really advise against you watching this game, especially after the ugliness that was Cardinals-Jets last weekend.Mark Sanchez is still the starter, so Jets fans have that.
The pick: 10-6, Jaguars
The Jets are three-point road favorites in Jacksonville, according to OddsShark. The over/under of 38 points is tied for the lowest mark of Week 14.