The Jets get a chance to deal pain to a second AFC West opponent in an eight-day span. Last week at home, they ended their slump and extended Kansas City's skid to five losses in six games. Sunday the Green & White travel two-thirds of the country to take on Denver, mired in an eight-game losing streak that is the franchise's longest in a half-century.
But head coach Todd Bowles knows his Jets are in no position to be looking past any opponent, especially in a road game against the Broncos' personnel.
"They're a good team. They have talent all over the field," Bowles said. "I just know the talent I see on film. If we don't come ready to play, we're going to get it handed to us."
And the Broncos are getting real antsy. As RB C.J. Anderson told the Denver Post, "We haven't won in two months. We haven't won in 60 days. A win would just be good." And a victory over the Jets "would feel like a playoff win."
Here are this week's seven points of interest for the Jets' first game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High since facing Tim Tebow in 2011:
1. Mountain HomeThe Jets are 15-19-1 vs. the Broncos overall and 8-11 in the Mile High City, which has always been a tough place to play. One of those losses was the toughest of all, coming as it did in the 1998 AFC Championship Game. But they've celebrated some nice wins there, too — their second-largest comeback, from 28-7 down to 31-28 ahead in 1978 and the last-minute 24-20 triumph early in their 2010 playoff season. And lately, Sports Authority Field hasn't been as magical for the Broncos, who've lost their last three at home, to the Giants, Patriots and Bengals.
Best Shots of the Series Between the Jets and Broncos
2. Slow out of the GateVance Joseph, a Jets rookie corner in 1995, is Denver's rookie head coach now and things haven't been going well for the last two months. In the first halves during the losing streak, the Broncos have been outscored 149-34 and out-touchdowned 19-1. As a result, they haven't held a lead or even been tied at halftime or at any time in the second halves of those eight games. The Jets focused on their finishing problem last week and it seemed to help in the win over KC. No doubt Joseph's team has been working feverishly on its starting problem this week.
3. Josh, Jermaine & RobbyThe Jets passing offense has been humming lately. Could Josh McCown possibly put together a third consecutive 300-yard game? It's only been done once by a Jets QB, Ken O'Brien in 1985. Do WRs Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson have a third straight tandem 100-yard performance in them? That's never been done in franchise history. But big numbers will be hard to come by because even though the Broncos are struggling, their defense has been top-five in many categories this season. And a lot of that is because in Denver ...
4. It's Miller TimeSeventh-year weakside LB Von Miller is in the midst of what figures to be his sixth Pro Bowl season. He's got nine sacks, 18 QB hits and 14 tackles for loss, all team-leading totals. And in two career meetings against the Jets, in '11 in Denver and '14 at MetLife Stadium, he racked up 3.5 sacks. "He's a special player," McCown said, and Todd Bowles described Miller as "a huge headache. He's one of the best players in the league." Jets tackles Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell will need to be on point.
5. Generous HostsThrough 10 games the Jets had 17 takeaways, almost twice as many as after 10 games last year. No TAs the last two games is troublesome, and S Jamal Adams' dropped INT, which would've been his first pro pick and would've ended the Chiefs win quicker, was agonizing. But DC Kacy Rodgers noted Adams "was out there on the JUGS machine when I walked out to practice Wednesday." The Green & White will want to be ready for any opportunities the generous Broncos (27 giveaways and minus-16 TO margin, both 31st in the league) serve up.
6. Returns and BlocksThe Jets haven't had a defensive return TD since 2013, a punt-return or kickoff-return TD since '12, a blocked kick of any kind since '13. Could this be the week one of those dams breaks? Denver has allowed five return touchdowns (all in the first half), tied for second-most in the NFL. Riley Dixon has had one punt returned for a TD and has had two blocked, while Brandon McManus has had two long FG tries rejected.
7. Letting It FlyWe hear Chandler Catanzaro and Lachlan Edwards are eager to launch some pigskins in the thin air Sunday. They and Jets fans are well aware of what can happen a mile high. Steve O'Neal's 98-yard punt in Denver in 1969 is still the NFL record. And Nick Folk hit a then-franchise-long 56-yard field goal plus five kickoff touchbacks there in 2010. Field position and a long field goal or two could prove pivotal in a game in which the offenses might struggle to move the ball.