The Broncos come into week 13 at 6-5 and looking for a big win after the disappointing loss to the Oakland Raiders. The defense has been playing well, but the offense has not carried their own weight. The offensive gameplan did not help either, last week. It seems that if the Broncos turn the ball over early, then they loose. The Broncos are still up in the AFC West by 2 games, to look on the bright side. Their destiny is in their control. FOCUS is what the Broncos are going to have to do to get a win in the Meadowlands. If the Broncos focus, and Jay Cutler throws mostly short and intermediate passes, they put themselves in a great position to get the win.
The Jets are coming off a wonderful win after defeating the once undefeated Titans. That win gave them a record of 8-3 and help them keep a 1 game lead in the tough AFC East. Brett Favre has actually been taking care of the ball, only throwing 1 interception in his last 3 games. Is he becoming more a game-manager? The only part of the Jets that just jumps out at me as a glaring weakness is the pass defense. They are 26th in a league against the pass, worse than the Broncos. If the Jets can take away the run, and the short passes, the Jets have a good chance of getting the job done, also.
Lets look at the ADVANTAGE...
Quarterback: The Broncos have one of the best in the league in Jay Cutler. Jay has over 3000 passing yards and 19 TDs. He has a group of receivers that any QB in the league would die to have. The only thing that holds Jay back is the mental side of his game. Loosing focus in the red-zone can not happen. Cutler faces one of the weakest secondaries in football on Sunday. I think Jay will be focused this game. He always seems to be on the road. Look for the Broncos to air it out this weekend.
The Jets acquired arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time this summer. I don't think he will ever stop playing football! Brett Favre struggled early in the Jets new offense, but looks to have found his niche in the offense in the past couple of weeks. The running game has helped Favre realize he does not have to it all by himself. Thomas Jones and Leon Washing provide a great combo to takes some of the pressure off of Favre. Favre has been getting everyone involved in the passing game from Dustin Keller to Jerricho Cotchery. Favre could also have success going up against a weak secondary as well.
ADVANTAGE: Toss up. They both have rocket arms and are facing weak secondaries. Favre and Cutler can have great success this week.
Runningback: As all of us know, the Broncos running attack has been depleted this year with 4 Rbs going on IR. It looks like Selvin Young is going to sit out yet another game trying to heal a pulled groin. Peyton Hillis did a good job last week averaging over 4 yards a carry. Tatum Bell can break a big run, but he has a lot a fumbling in his past. This week, it is going to be hard to run the ball. The Jets have the 3rd best run defense in the league.
The Jets have one of the best running attack in the league, also. Thomas Jones only needs 50 yards to break 1000 and has got to the end-zone 9 times. He is definitely one of the best in the league this year. Leon Washington is one of the most explosive backs in the NFL. The Broncos can give up the big play, but they have been doing better stopping the run lately.
ADVANTAGE: Jets. I have a feeling the Broncos might have trouble going up against a physical running attack. Like I said, Jones and Washington provide a great 1-2 punch.
Receiving: One of the most talented receiving corps belongs to the Broncos. Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, and Brandon Stokely have been great this year. Scheffler, Graham, and Hillis are also great receivers. Royal could miss the game with a toe injury, but had limited participation on Thursday. If Royal doesn't play, that could be a huge loss for the offense. But on the bright side, the Jets are just as bad against the Broncos against the pass. They a have weapons everywhere. Jay will be spreading the ball around against this bad pass defense.
The Jets have a pretty good receiving group this year. It also helps when you have an ageless wonder with a rocket arm throwing to you. Laveranues Coles had limited participation, but should play. Jerricho Cotchery and Chansi Stuckey have also been good recievers with the help of Favre. The Broncos pass defense is awful, as we all know. This group could light up Dre Bly, but Champ Bailey could make his return Sunday. He could shut down have of the field.
ADVANTAGE: Broncos. They have so much talent on offense, it is just a matter of controlling it. A gameplan that doesn't have the Broncos throwing deep every other play could give the Broncos a big edge, since Cutler can make those short and intermediate pass easily.
Offensive Line: The Broncos have one of the best offensive lines in the league. They have kept Cutler to a league low 7 sacks on the year. Ryan Clady and Ryan Harris are having great seasons. Harris is starting in only his second year, while Clady is a rookie. By the way, vote for them for Pro Bowl HERE. Casey Wiegmann, Ben Hamilton, and Chris Kuper also have been playing Pro Bowl worthy. They have done a decent job blocking for who ever is in at RB, but it would sure help if we had Pittman or Torain back. The only problem I see in this match-up is the Broncos running game vs. the Jets run defense. Broncos will likely have more success throwing against them.
The Jets line has gotten better since last year. The signing of Alan Faneca has helped a whole lot. The Jets are running the ball great this year. They have allowed Favre to be sacked 21 times this year. That is about the league average. That is the area where the Broncos must take advantage of. If they get pressure on Favre it could be a long day for the passing offense.
ADVANTAGE: Broncos. It might sound like a homer pick, but I don't think so. Denver has been able to protect Cutler and run the ball decently. I don't think they will have a big problem against Kris Jenkins and company, at least on the pass. I think they could run the ball decently, also. Even though they are one of the best against the run.
Defensive Line: As we all know, this line is very young and needs time to gel. Like I said before. Jarvis Moss and Marcus Thomas have been improving these last few games, and Ebenezer Ekuban has been play pretty well for his age. This will be a true test for this line against one of the better rushing teams in the league. I do think they could have success getting to Brett Favre, though. The pass protection is average, so the Broncos could get a few sacks.
The Jets have a line filled with studs. Shaun Ellis and Kris Jenkins have been amazing so far, and Kenyon Coleman has been doing his fair share on this 3-4 defense. As I've been saying, the d-line has been very impressive against the run. The starting 3 lineman have combined for 11 sacks out of the 35. Denver done has something to worry about, but they are the best protecting line in the league.
ADVANTAGE: Jets. They can stop the run on any day, and can get to the QB. Denver's line has talent, I believe, but they need time to get better.
Linebacker: The "B-squad" of the Broncos linebackers have been playing very well. Woodyard and Larsen are always around the ball, along with Winborn. They are a fiery group who definitely lets all of their emotions be heard. They have done a good job of stopping the run, and seem to be more fundamental than the other LBs. D.J. Williams and Nate Webster have been practicing partially, so it is remained to be seen if they will suit up for the game. Even if they don't, Woodyard, Larsen, and Winborn have the ability to contain the run.
Calvin Pace has been a force on this Jets defense. Racing up 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and a touchdown, Pace has been playing Pro Bowl worthy. Vernon Golston isn't starting, but Byran Thomas has been playing very well, also. The 3-4 defense they Jets run definitely put these guys in position to make plays. And they have been succeeding at that.
ADAVTANGE: Toss up. Both groups of LBs make plays. A lot of plays. Even though the Broncos linebackers might not be the flashiest, they get the job done. The Jets LBs make great plays and all attack the ball, as well.
Defensiveback: Champ Bailey could make his return this week, which comes at a great time. Josh Bell has been doing alright stepping in for him, and Dre Bly, well is Dre Bly. I think we can all agree that he has not impressed us this year. Safety has been awful for the Broncos so far. Marlon McCree has yet to practice this week, which is not a good sign. Could Josh Barrett be another rookie that steps in to improve that defense? I think we all hope so. Brett Favre will have no problem picking apart the DBs of the Broncos. Especially if Champ doesn't play.
The Jets have had their fair share of awful-ness against the pass as well. They signed Ty Law to come in and help, but that doesn't seem to have worked. The only bright spot in this secondary is Abe Elam. After getting the staring job four games ago, he has shined brightly. He had a 92-yard INT for a touchdown and has force 2 very crucial fumbles since. He is the only player Cutler really needs to watch out for in the secondary.
ADVANTAGE: I don't see much of one at all. Cutler has a bunch of weapons around him, so he should be able to spread the ball around and keep Abe Elam away. Brett Favre can light up this Broncos secondary, but it might be a little more difficult if Champ plays.
Kicker/Punter: Matt Prater has struggled lately, but I expect him to bounce back. He has a leg, but I does no good when you can't make to 40-yarders. Brett Kern is averaging over 47 yards per punt. The special teams has been decent this year.
Jay Feely has made 20 out of 24 FG attempts this season. He is also 2-2 in 50+ yard situations. Reggie Hodges has been punting an average of 42 yards, which is close to the worst.
ADVANTAGE: Broncos. Prater is doing very well on kick-offs and Kern as been a great punter for his 1st year as a rookie.
Returning: Eddie Royal has proved to be a game-changer in his rookie year. He can break the big one, but I'm a little worried with his toe injury. If he isn't 100%, Shanny could have him only play offense, but I still think he will return on Sunday.
Leon Washington is electric on returns on kick-offs and punts, also. He is only averaging 28.8 yards a kick-off return, but like I said, but has the ability to take one to the house every return.
ADVANTAGE: Toss up. Both of these players can gone the distance. The cover teams on both sides should have trouble with them.
As you can tell, I think this game is going to be a close one. Denver has been playing well on the road lately. The Jets are winning the AFC East, but I don't think that intimidates them at all. They are a young team with all the talent in the world, it is just a matter of putting it all together with the mental side of things.
My Prediction: 24-21 Broncos.