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Jets-Saints: 10 Things to Look For

We'll have enough Ryans on the airwaves Sunday to begin filming a remake of Von Ryan's Express. Rex and Rob's playing careers at Southwest Oklahoma State will be the subject of an NFL Network "investigation," which will air as part of NFL GameDay Morning at 9 a.m. ET.

Then Jets head coach Rex and Saints defensive coordinator Rob will be captured by Fox's cameras no doubt exchanging brotherly pleasantries during warmups for Sunday's game at MetLife Stadium, and the twins will again be joined by dad Buddy Ryan, who'll be up for the game for the photo ops.

But the Ryan family scrapbook will quickly be replaced by Jets family matters. The Green & White need a triumph against a difficult foe to wipe away the taste of last week's 40-point loss at Cincinnati and send the Jets into their bye week at 5-4, which would be light-years ahead of where they'd be at 4-5, licking their wounds, and opening back up with tough road games at Buffalo and Baltimore.

Here are 10 things to look for at Sunday's Jets-Saints game:

1. The Geno Project — Watch for Geno Smith to be impeccable with his accuracy on throws outside the hashmarks. He's thrown three interceptions returned for touchdowns the past two games, all on passes headed outside the hashmarks, but he's also shown good learning curves after difficult outings. Also, no Jets QB has ever thrown pick-sixes in three consecutive games. The closest anyone has come to that: Joe Namath twice threw four pick-sixes in back-to-back games, the last time early in 1968. That season turned out pretty good. Not predictin', just sayin'.

2. Brick Wall Needed — Smith has been sacked an average of 3.5 times a game. New Orleans' defense has posted 3.4 sacks per game. Not a good balance for our side. Key matchup: left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson against third-year RDE Cameron Jordan, the 6'4", 287-pounder who leads Rob Ryan's multiple fronts with 14 sacks the past two seasons.

3. Ground & Pound — Two weeks after Chris Ivory pummeled the Patriots, might OC Marty Mornhinweg be intent on turning him loose against Nawlins? Ivory's been stoic about treating this like any other, no big deal, but the Saints were his team for the previous three seasons, then traded him to our side. Then there's Rob Ryan's defense again, which doesn't allow many passing yards or points but has been pedestrian vs. the run — 20th in yards per game (110.3), 32nd in yards per carry (4.83). Opportunity may be knocking.

4. Their Tight End — Drew Brees is a marvelous downfield passer and distributor. But with his WRs other than Marques Colston kind of sputtery this year, the target has been Jimmy Graham, the 6'7", 265-pounder with wideout speed and (almost) a tackle's body, and whose 15.8-yard per-catch average is easily the best among qualifying TEs in the league this season. How do the Jets try to cover Graham? That'll be fun to watch, but as Rex cautions, "You talk about a problem. This guy has the size, the speed, he's phenomenal at adjusting to the ball, and he has a great rapport with Brees."

5. Our Tight Ends — Some thought Jeff Cumberland, one of Smith's go-to targets, would miss this game with a concussion that everyone watching the TV replay except Solomon Wilcots saw Cumberland receive on head-snapping contact with Terence Newman last week. But if Cumberland sits out (he's questionable after a limited practice today), it's up to Zach Sudfeld and Konrad Reuland (four career NFL starts combined) to pick up the slack, along with anyone else Mornhinweg refers to as "double-dutiers."

Record 4-4 6-1
Points Scored/Game 17.9 28.0
Points Allowed/Game 26.4 17.1
First Downs Gained/Game 18.5 21.0
First Downs Allowed/Game 17.4 19.0
Yards Gained/Game 330.4 396.0
Yards Allowed/Game 315.0 332.4
Time of Possession/Game 31:37 33:24
Turnover Margin –12 8

6. Dirtywork by Snacks —  For the first time since 1991, a 355-week span, we have the NFL's No. 1 defense in rushing yards allowed per game. We're also No. 1 in rush yards per carry. One reason among many: the big-body relentlessness and flowing locks of Damon Harrison. "Snacks" has lots of help around him but there's no denying he sees the path to the ball remarkably well — his 10.0 tackles for loss/no gain lead the Jets. So far the Saints rushing offense, led by Pierre Thomas, hasn't gotten on track at 3.4 yards a pop, 28th in the league. Just maybe a win here will help confound the NO passing game.


  1. Still on the A-Team —** On the corner opposite Cro Corner, it's still No. 27, Dee Milliner. We agree with Rex Ryan and Dennis Thurman that it's just a matter of time, but will there be enough time this year for the light to come on for the top draft pick, who's coming off his second midgame benching of the year. "With Dee, it's just a matter of continuing to work, continuing to catch up," said D.T. "I know I've been saying it, but the young man's behind. We've got to get him caught up, and then he's got to go out and perform."

8. More Folk Hero — We don't think Folk will be kicking in the Santa Claus costume he wore for Halloween during Thursday's practice. But Saint Nick has been the kicker who keeps on giving. If he goes 5-for-5 vs. the Saints, he'll tie Jay Feely's franchise-record 24 straight in 2008-09. If he hits another 50-yarder, he'll tie John Hall with 10 kicks of 50 yards. If he hits another last-minute kick for the win, that'd be four game-winners this season.

9. Kick or Treat — Speaking of Halloween, might the Jets need to be ready for a trick play, something along the lines of a little Super Bowl onsides kick that the Saints executed against the Colts three years ago? "A little bit," said ST coordinator Ben Kotwica. "Actually, a couple of those things are things you practice." Just for the record, the only home onside kick successfully executed by opponents in Rex's five years at the helm: Last year's Dan Carpenter first-quarter onsider recovered by the Dolphins.

10. Good Old No. 65 — No, not Will Campbell, but the guy who wore that number for 10 seasons before Campbell, Brandon Moore, who retired from the NFL as a Jet on Friday. Moore will be the team "pilot," leading them on the Jets Runway into MetLife Stadium for pregame warmups and will come out as honorary captain for the opening coin toss.

Regular-Season Series Record Saints 6-5
     Last Game Saints 24-10, 2009
     Last Jets Win Jets 16-9, 2001
     Current Streak Saints 5 out of 6
Regular-Season Record @ NYJ Saints 4-2
     Last Game Saints 21-19, 2005
     Last Jets Win Jets 28-23, 1986
     Current Streak Saints 3 in a row

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