Rookie Smith Needs Support as Jets Visit Falcons Monday
Alan Penny 2013-10-06 in NFL Picks
The New York Jets are putting all of their chips behind a rookie quarterback these days, and while there are some benefits to that, there are also instances where they just have to take it on the chin. On Monday night the Jets are facing one of those teams that is fully capable of delivering one on the chin when they pay a visit to the Atlanta Falcons. The game, which is televised on ESPN, will get underway at 8:40 PM ET.
The Jets are 2-2 on the season, and some people are frankly surprised that they have done that well. The Falcons, who got to the NFC title game last season, are 1-3 and in a bit of trouble in the NFC South. So as you can imagine, this contest brings a sense of urgency.
In the NFL betting odds that have been posted on this game by the people at BetUS, the Falcons are favored by double digits:
Atlanta Falcons -10
New York Jets +10
…and here is the NFL total as it is posted on the Monday night game:
Over 44 Points -110
Under 44 Points -110
When you look at the Jets, it is a story of growing pains under rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Certainly Smith can make some plays, and he’ll go downfield, as evidenced by his average of eight yards an attempt. But there is another side to the coin, of course. And for Smith it’s 14 sacks, eight interceptions and three fumbles lost. With Mark Sanchez gone for the year, it’s all about Smith at this point, so the future, as they say, is now.
What’s interesting about the Jets is that they have outgained their opponents by 83 yards a game and a full yard per play, which tells you what kind of job the defense is doing. They have limited opposition rushing attacks to just three yards a carry and opposing passer to 51.4% completions. Needless to say, NFL bettors at BetUS know that if Smith matures and cuts down on his mistakes, the Jets could become a factor in a hurry.
Smith has been able to take up big chunks of yardage with wide receivers Santonio Holmes (ten catches, 243 yards) and Stephen Hill (17.9 yards a reception). But both of those receivers are out of action here. Holmes has a hamstring injury, while Hill is feeling the effects of a concussion. So Jeremy Kerley and Clyde Gates take over at the wide receiver spots, but there is no depth there. Since the Jets struggle when trying to execute Rex Ryan’s preferred “ground and pound,” this could leave Smith open to committing more turnovers.
Holmes could not head to the sidelines without a few digs, though. He complains about the lack of attention he gets, and that he had only one catch against Tennessee. He says, “I can’t throw it to myself,” which is apparently directed at his rookie quarterback.
The Jets (the +375 money line underdog at BetUS) have to become more disciplined on an overall basis. They have been penalized thirty times over the last two games, and they have totaled 44 penalties for the season. This is not the way to win football games.
As far as Atlanta’s injury situation is concerned, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon remains out of the lineup, as we know, but the offense won’t be able to achieve all the balance it wants to without its “go-to” running back. Like Holmes, Steven Jackson of the Falcons also has a hamstring injury, and he will be out of this game, although it had been hoped that Atlanta would be able to get him back to action. Jackson did not even practice this week, so there is no way they are going to take a chance with him.
The Falcons, however, have every reason to be confident when they are in the Georgia Dome. They are 34-6 straight-up at home when they have Matt Ryan in the lineup, and are priced at -550 to win the game straight-up in the NFL odds. Matt Ryan has his full set of receivers on hand, headed by Julio Jones, who’s got 33 catches on the season (for 481 yards) and tight end Tony Gonzalez, who has 23 receptions and attracts a lot of attention on the part of opposing secondaries. It is very hard to concentrate on any one receiving threat for Atlanta, and in that respect they are different than the other teams the Jets have played this season.
It is going to be incumbent upon the Jets to get off to a good start, as Atlanta has outscored its opposition 34-0 in the first quarter. But it should be noted that the Falcons have still been outscored on an overall basis.
The Falcons have never lost three games in a row since Mike Smith became their head coach, and they have a bye week upcoming after this. Might the Jets try to run the ball up the gut with Bilal Powell against a Falcon front that is often gets a reputation for being a bit “soft”? This could be a spot for that, and Smith is someone who has the ability to keep the Atlanta pass rush in check. However, like a lot of rookies, Smith often holds the ball for too long in the pocket.