While it appears extremely likely that rookie WR Stephen Hill (doubtful - hamstring) will miss the first game of his career, the Jets have five players who were limited in practice on Friday and are officially listed as questionable: FB John Conner (knee), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), LB Bart Scott (toe), OLB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) and WR Patrick Turner (hamstring). The return of Keller would be a huge lift for Mark Sanchez and company as they will do battle with the aggressive 49ers Sunday at Metlife Stadium.
We have a "Fan Friday" first with a repeat champion this week. Somebody is going to have rip the pen away from David because he still has hold of the championship belt.
When the San Francisco 49ers come to town Sunday, the celebrated return of the "slouch" WR Randy Moss will be put on the backburner as CB Darrelle Revis — creator of the "slouch" moniker — is out for the season. The 49ers spent the week away from home, practicing on the road in Ohio to prevent a dreaded cross-country trip which is an almost sure recipe for failure. However, whatever chances the Jets had in "trapping" the 49ers to look past the game were dashed by the 49ers loss to the Vikings in Week 3.
Last Sunday, the Jets eked out an emotional, gristly and costly win in overtime. The game could have easily gone the other way if the Dolphins had moved up just a few more yards in OT instead of throwing incomplete against a Revis-less Jets secondary. The Jets will need to overcome adversity and execute in order to make this a competitive game.
Jets D vs 49ers O
The key to the matchup will be increased production from the Jets defensive line.
The Jets seemed to have been overmatched in the running game against the Dolphins and the same might be said here. The 49ers running game is excellent and RB Frank Gore has been tearing up the league with a 5.9-yard average per attempt. Gore is not a burner like Bush and C.J. Spiller, so the 49ers won't be able to take advantage of the Jets inability to set the edge. Even so, Gore is still elusive. Winning the battles in the trenches and sure tackling will be needed to bring him down.
The 49ers compliment their power running game with an efficient passing game featuring WR Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham & Vernon TE Davis. Last week, 49ers QB Alex Smith did not do well with the Vikings pass rush in his face. Here too the Jets DL will be called upon to bring the pressure and limit the exposure of the Revis-less Jets pass defense.
Does defensive standout S LaRon Landry become the top playmaker on D with Revis out? Landry will have to be at his best to cover the athletic Davis — one of the NFL's premier tight ends. Kyle Wilson has the chance to emerge from the shadow of Revis and prove that he will be more than just an average cornerback. On the other hand, RB/CB Joe McKnight probably won't be a defensive factor in this game.
Jets O vs 49ers D
The Jets will face arguably the best opponent D on their 2012 regular season schedule. The 49ers can bring the QB pressure with only four rushers and drop seven into coverage to block the passing lanes. Furthermore, they have an excellent LB corps and are No. 8 stopping the run. Linebacker Patrick Willis has the range to go coast-to-coast in run defense. Nevertheless, trap blocking by the Vikings OL last week caught the 49ers pass rushers off guard (forgive the pun), blunting the rush and Christian Ponder picked the defense apart.
The key to this matchup is TE Dustin Keller. He was sorely missed the past two games and the passing game was not crisp against a weak Dolphin secondary. However Keller may not be completely recovered from his hamstring injury, possibly limiting his effectiveness to be a factor.
Special X-factor – Special Teams Play
One of the unsung keys to victory last week was the field position battle — the Jets had good field position and they denied it from the Dolphins. The gamble on P Robert Malone has been paying dividends. His booming punts have frequently allowed the Jets to pin opponents inside the 20.
Last week, the 49ers ripped off returns of 50 and 90 yards in Minnesota. Mike Westhoff's coverage teams must play responsibly to prevent handicapping the Jets D further with a shortened field.
I had liked the Jets chances to win this game with a healthy Revis. However the Jets D has not had enough time to adjust to his injury. While the 49ers are far from a perfect team, they will be able to exploit the Jets weaknesses and come away with a win.
Last week, Ponder got a long TD run on a busted passing play against this 49ers D. Jets QB Tim Tebow has the skill-set to capitalize on this possible 49ers weakness.
Final Score Prediction: 49ers 28, Jets 10
49ers TDs: Vernon Davis 2, Michael Crabtree & Frank Gore Rush TD
Jets TD: Santonio Holmes