By Matthew Asher
The Jets are great at limiting passing attacks. The Falcons have three Pro-Bowl receivers on hand. Which one’s going to give on Monday Night Football?
After a devastating 23-30 loss to the New England Patriots the 1-3 Falcons have to consider their Monday Night game against the 2-2 New York Jets as a must win. Fortunately, this is a game Atlanta can and should be able to win.
New York’s offense has been fairly pedestrian in the first quarter of the season. The Jets average 366.2 yards of offense each game with 243.2 coming in through the air and 123 on the ground. The total yards and rushing yards are the 12th best in the league while the passing yardage is 17th best.
Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has done an okay job as the signal caller so far. His stats aren’t spectacular but since he was thrown into the starting spot because of a preseason injury to Mark Sanchez, it’s hard to overly criticize his efforts. Smith has thrown for nearly 1,100 yards but just four touchdowns against eight interceptions for a quarterback rating of 68.6.
Bilal Powell has been the main weapon on the ground. In 66 rushing attempts he’s picked up 292 yards for a respectable 4.4 yards per carry to go along with one touchdown. He’s also caught 11 passes for 108 yards.
Smith has yet to find a favorite receiver which is both good and bad for defenses. The Jets have done a good job of spreading out the passes with five Jets gaining more than 100 receiving yards and four of them have double digit catches. Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill have more than 200 receiving yards each. Kellen Winslow has caught 16 passes, leading the team and Jeremy Kerley has nine receptions.
There are two glaring weak spots on the Jets offense. One of them happens to be the most important: scoring. New York averages just 17 points per contest, the fifth worst in the league. The other issue is turnovers. In addition to Smith’s eight interceptions, the Jets have lost four fumbles giving them -10 in the turnover department, the second worst in the league.
The match up to pay attention to is Atlanta’s top 10 passing attack against New York’s top 10 passing defense. Atlanta averages 316.5 yards through the air, the fourth most in the league while the Jets allow just 203.8 yards, the eighth least.
New York also has a good rushing defense allowing less than 80 yards a game, the fifth best in the league. But with Steven Jackson still probably out for this game, Atlanta isn’t going to try to win the game on the ground. Still, the Falcons average 82 rushing yards a game, the ninth least in the league.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8:40 p.m. EST on Monday Night Football. #RiseUp
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Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.