Free NFL Pick: New York Jets at Pittsburgh 12-19-2010

December 19, 2010


New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday December 19th, 2010 4:15 PM EST

Line: Pittsburgh -5

Overview:close games

The 9-4 Jets have lost two in a row for the first time all season. They have been involved in a series of close games and losses since the bye week, which has some thinking the Jets are not going to see the playoffs at all. After being blown away by the Patriots, they came back and lost to the Dolphins, a team they were projected to beat fairly easy. As fate would have it, they are taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh this week.

The 10-3 Steelers have been involved in close games as well recently. They are playing well heading into the playoffs and have won four games in a row. Regardless of where the Jets are mentally, the Steelers can still notch up a quality win if they take out the Jets. If they have a mental lapse, people will begin to question Pittsburgh, as we head into January.

Keys to the Game:

  • The Jets can only be elite when they are a top rushing football team in the NFL. Their decline from the number one rushing team in the league last year to the sixth spot this year has there offense struggling. LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene need to be involved again. They need to revert to where they were for the first right weeks of the season. Unfortunately, they are facing the best front seven in all of football.
  • The Steelers allow just over 60 yards rushing a game. They have perfected shutting down the run in the 3-4. While their linebackers are obviously a huge reason why nobody really breaks off any significant runs against the Steelers, their defensive line deserves some recognition. Ziggy Hood, Brett, Kiesel, and Casey Hampton have given their linebackers the freedom to scrape and move freely. The Steelers stunt and come from every direction, which creates confusion that leads to problems in the backfield. To make their defense even more threatening, they have the best safety in the game in Troy Polamalu. He is out today, so that may make matters easier.
  • The Jets have to get pressure, but they don’t have one guy who can really get it going. For a Rex Ryan defense, the Jets haven’t been very aggressive. They need a pass rusher heading into next season, as nobody has over 4.5 sacks. Even if it is a collective effort, they are going to have to get in the face of Ben Roethlisberger. He is one of the toughest quarterbacks in all of football to bring down, but giving him all day to throw the ball will render negative results for the Jets’ defense.
  • Mike Wallace and Hines Ward could become frustrated very early. Wallace will probably be locked up by Darrelle Revis and Ward will likely be covered by Antonio Cromartie. We all know exactly how Revis operates and Ward is going to be outmatched physically this week, something he is unaccustomed to. I don’t see either receiver having a big game, which should lead to more Rashard Mendenhall touches. Wallace may say “I don’t fear nobody” and “he’s just another guy”. A lot of guys have challenged Revis pre-game and very few doubt him after the game. Wallace will likely follow suit.

Key Matchup:

Ben Roethlisberger Vs. Mark Sanchez

  • Big Ben has only thrown one touchdown in three weeks. He was blanked by Buffalo and Cincinnati, who are sub par against the pass. He is going to look down the field at times and see that nobody is running open. Big Ben has the ability to extend plays, but unless he is able to utilize his check down outlets, we could see him force some throws and make mistakes.
  • Mark Sanchez has got to settle down. He is in complete disarray and it looks like he has been completely thrown off track. That being said, he is in his second season. The standard has been set so high by quarterbacks like Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, and Matt Ryan, that any sort of struggle from a young quarterback leaves fans frustrated. Sanchez will pop out of his funk and the Jets are going to make the playoffs.

Wrap Up:

The Jets are stumbling right now and very vulnerable. I like Pittsburgh to win this one and win it handedly. If the Dolphins can win by four against the Jets at home, there is no reason to think the Steelers shouldn’t be able to cover at home.

Free NFL Pick: Pittsburgh -6

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