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Jets-Steelers: 5 Storylines

As Season’s Second Quarter Begins, Green & White Look for a Fresh Start in Pittsburgh


A New Quarter**: Both the Jets and their critics are reaching for a shovel. Some pundits and fans want to bury the Green & White after a 1-3 start, but head coach Todd Bowles and the players are intent on digging themselves out of an early season hole. Veterans know it's a long season, referencing this week a 1-4 stretch in 2015 between Weeks 7 and 11. After falling back to level ground at 5-5, the Jets topped the Dolphins in Week 12 and that started a five-game winning streak. In bounce-back mode, Bowles believes his team is close to turning the corner after taking some strides in a 27-17 loss to the Seahawks.

Pissed Off in Pittsburgh: Describing his team's mood as "pissed off" early this week, Bowles has to take a frustrated group of players and get them ready for a huge road test at Heinz Field.  WR Brandon Marshall said the group can either fold or they can fight together and hold each other accountable. Marshall says the Jets have proven they can play with playoff teams, but they haven't proven they can beat them yet. The Steelers have made the postseason the past two seasons and many believe they will contend for the conference championship in January.


Killer B's:The New York defense will contend with arguably the top QB, WR, RB trio in all of football in Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell. Roethlisberger, who has appeared in three Super Bowls and owns two championship rings, is completing 63.4% of his passes with 11 TDs and 4 INTs. His favorite target is Brown, who had an astounding 136 catches last season for 1,834 yards and 10 TDs. After the season's first quarter, AB is on pace for* only* 112 receptions, 1,476 yards and 16 TDs. And Bell, who made his season debut last week with 144 yards on the ground in addition to five receptions, has averaged 4.4 yards per attempt throughout his career.

Turnover Trends: Despite their record, the Jets have some very positive trends entering Week 5. The rush defense ranks No. 2 (70.3 yards per game) and the defense is T2 with 17 tackles for loss. The Jets are also one of two clubs (Pittsburgh is the other) to rank in the top 10 in both offensive (No. 4, 48.2%) and defensive third down percentages (No. 7, 24.8%). But it is essential for New York's AFC representative to make progress in one critical area. The Jets are -10 in turnover differential and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been intercepted nine times over the past two weeks. In order to secure their second victory all-time in Pittsburgh, the Jets need a clean game from Fitzpatrick and a takeaway or two along the way would help the cause.

Homecoming: Both Marshall and CB Darrelle Revis were born in Pittsburgh, PA. Marshall, who had four receptions for 89 yards and 1 TD in his matchup against Seahawks CB Richard Sherman, says he is focused on creating six and seven man boxes, forcing double teams and creating one-on-one matchups for the Jets' young receivers.  Eric Decker remains a question mark with a partially torn rotator cuff, so Quincy Enunwa and rookies Robby Anderson and Charone Peake have moved up the depth chart. The 6'4", 230-pound Marshall, who said on Inside the NFL that the Jets are learning perseverance and resiliency, believes the Green & White can get out of the funk and he will pose a lot of issues for the Steelers' No. 30 ranked pass defense. Revis, who attended Aliquippa HS and was a star at Pittsburgh, has a hamstring strain and his situation will be monitored throughout the week. Rookie CB Juston Burris has entered the past two games on the outside in sub packages when Revis went out in Kansas City (eye) and then vs. Seattle (hamstring). The Steelers rank No. 3 in terms of 20-plus yard passing plays (18) and the Jets rank No. 29 in terms of 20-plus yard passing plays allowed (17).

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