Later on tonight, the Jets will make their much anticipated 2011 home debut against the Dallas Cowboys. Make no mistake, there will be many games within the game as these two playoff caliber teams square off. Crazy Rob vs. Classless Rex. DeMarcus Ware vs. D’Brickashaw Ferugson. Dez Bryant vs. Darrelle Revis. The Jets run D vs. Felix Jones. Expect both teams to play with a ton of emotion on such an emotional day for New York City. Kenny (wearing his Cowboys Jersey, boo Kenny) and I (wearing my NYPD shirt, yay me) will be in the building.
For me, the outcome of this game will come down to one over-looked facet: Special Teams.
Mentioned above, there will be many games within the game:
- Rob Ryan vs. Rex Ryan: Buddy will be a proud papa when he sees his boys square off during prime time. Rob was brought in to shore up a Cowboy run-defense that resembled that of a paper bag last season. If the pre-season is any indication, Ryan hasn’t changed much. The ‘Boys have given 123 yards per game this pre-season and will need to stop Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson early and often.
- DeMarcus Ware vs. D’Brickashaw Ferguson: I always get excited when I see two Pro Bowl-caliber players square off. Ferguson is one of the best left tackles in the league and Ware has been an absolute monster on the Dallas D. Ferguson will have to protect Sanchez’s blind side and keep Ware at bay.
- Dez Bryant vs. Darrelle Revis: With Miles Austin nursing a hamstring injury, expect Dez to be the first visitor to Revis Island in 2011. Dez really didn’t do much in the pre-season, but there’s no question that he’s the most gifted pass catcher in the Cowboy offense. Revis seemingly shuts down every team’s #1 receiver. I don’t expect a deviation from the norm.
- The Jets Run D vs. Felix Jones: Felix Jones has been touted by many as a potential breakout candidate in 2011. I’ve firmly bought into Mr. Jones, drafting him in the 3rd round of my fantasy draft. While I expect him to have a career year, I don’t see it starting this week. The Jets had the third best run defense from last year and return almost all of their starters. Jones’ best bet will be to get to the edges and try to make second-level defenders miss. I can see Jones getting 70 total yards, but no scores against this unit.
- Special Teams: Ah finally. The key to the game. To me, these two teams are evenly-matched. Jets special teams’ coordinator Mike Westhoff always has a few wrinkles incorporated into the playbook, so expect anything. In terms of the kickers, neither team has a good one and the Meadowlands has always been a nightmare for kickers. The Jets let Brad Smith go in the off-season, so we’ll see how rookie Jeremy Kerley does in kickoff and punt return situations. The Cowboys will probably put their own rookie (DeMarco Murray) back to field punts and kickoffs, but don’t be surprised if Bryant is put back there late in the game. The team who plays well on special teams will win this game.
The Jets enter this game as 4.5 favorites, which seems too high. If I was putting $$ on this game, I’d take the points and Dallas. However, the betting aspect of this is deemed insignificant.
As much as I hate to say it, I like the Jets to win this game. The fans, players, and coaches will all be emotional. The tributes will be great, the security will be extremely tight, and most importantly, the game will be well-played. New York always deserves to win on the anniversary of such a horrible attack. The Jets will win this one on a last-second field goal.
New York 20