On Sunday afternoon, we saw the New York Giants and their defense dominate in the New Meadowlands. But at 7 PM tonight, we will get to see our other New York team, the Jets, face off against the Baltimore Ravens.
What to Watch For: Baltimore Wide Receivers vs. New York Cornerbacks
There’s enough story lines between these two sets of positions for their respective teams for an entire article itself, but I’ll see what I can get down to a few paragraphs. The Ravens, known for having lackluster wide outs, completely revamped their wide receiving core by adding Anquan Boldin from the Arizona Cardinals via the free agent market. The Ravens also signed the recently cut T.J. Houshmanzadeh from the Seattle Seahawks. Their other wide receiver is Mr. Reliable Derrick Mason, who has very quietly amassed 863 career receptions, good for 14th in the history of the league. These weapons in the passing game are by far the best that Joe Flacco and the Ravens have had in recent memory, and don’t forget about Ray Rice, who led running backs with 78 receptions a year ago.
On the Jets side of the passing game, you already know what the story is. Darrelle Revis is back from his training-camp-long holdout and (hopefully) in good enough shape to shut down opposing #1 wide outs. He will almost certainly be matched up against Anquan Boldin. In Boldin’s last game against the Jets in 2008, he torched them for 10 catches, 119 yards, and a score before getting viciously taken out of the game by the departed Kerry Rhodes. Covering Derrick Mason will be Antonio Cromartie, the Jets new corner who was acquired in the offseason for a third round pick. Although Cromartie may not be able to accurately name of all of his children, he is one of the most talented players in the NFL and should be able to lock down Derrick Mason. Also, don’t forget about the Jets first round draft pick, Kyle Wilson. He will be an impact player in passing situations and on special teams.
Key Players: Ray Rice (Bal), Mark Sanchez
Anyone who has ever glanced at a fantasy football magazine knows that Ray Rice is an absolute beast running and catching the ball for a total of 2,041 yards in 2009. Without Rice working, the rest of the offense will struggle. Therefore, it is as imperative for the Ravens to get Rice the ball 30+ times as it is for the Jets to focus on shutting him down. Look for a huge game from the leaders of the front seven, David Harris and Kris Jenkins.
It’s very cliché to have the most important player a quarterback, but can you think of anyone else the Jets need to do well week in and week out? You know Shonn Greene and LT are going to get their rushing yards, but to keep Ray Lewis and the Baltimore defense from loading up the box, Mark Sanchez has to show that he can keep the defenses honest by completing a pass or two downfield. Against a depleted Raven secondary that is missing Ed Reed, look for Braylon Edwards to get open deep down field.
Vegas’ Take: Las Vegas has the Jets as favorites by 2.5 points.
Prediction: Like the Giants, the New York Jets will take down the Baltimore Ravens in their season opener. The inspired defense will shut down the new look Baltimore offense’s wide receivers. On the other side, I think Shonn Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson will easily pass a combined forty rushing attempts, leaving Mark Sanchez to complete short and play-action passes to keep the Ravens defense off-balance.