KEY MATCHUP: Sunday's contest involves a matchup of second year quarterbacks, Matthew Stafford, a University of Georgia product and Mark Sanchez, a former USC Trojan. Both NFL sophomores were highly touted prospects in the 2009 NFL Draft, with Stafford going number one to Detroit, and the Jets trading up to take Sanchez fifth. Leading up to the draft, the two gunslingers were in direct competition vying to be the top pick, a time during which a healthy rivalry developed. Jets head coach Rex Ryan dodged the question of whether he had interest in moving up to the top pick to nab Stafford. "We did our due diligence," Ryan quipped.
KEY MATCHUP II: Another key matchup this Sunday pits the Lions' 6th ranked scoring offense against the Jets' 2nd ranked scoring defense. The Jets' passing defense, which finished the 2009 season second to none, ranks a pedestrian 18th in 2010. The new additions to the team leading to communication issues coupled with the injured hamstring of superstar corner Darrelle Revis is the main culprit for the Jets slide in pass defense rankings. Revis contends that he is fully healthy and eager to contain pro bowl wide out Calvin Johnson. The Lions boast the NFL's 7th ranked passing offense averaging just over 250 yards per game while averaging an astonishing 38 points per game at home.
PLAYMAKERS: In spite of ranking in the bottom third of the NFL in total defense, the Lions have their share of superb playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. Ndamukong Suh, a first round pick and a defensive tackle from Nebraska, has enjoyed an outstanding rookie campaign. Suh has exploded onto the NFL gridiron amassing 6.5 sacks, 1 interception and 27 tackles. Detroit defensive end and fellow Cornhusker Kyle Vanden Bosch brings 10 years of experience as a vaunted pass rusher totaling 4 sacks, 32 tackles and a forced fumble on the season. The Jets offensive line faces a tall order aiming to neutralize Suh's power on the inside and contain Vanden Bosch's speed on the edges.
FLASHBACK: The Jets played a memorable contest with the Lions over 13 years ago, a game that featured a heartbreaking loss for New York as well tragic injury to former Lions' linebacker Reggie Brown. In Week 17 of the 1997 season, (Bill Parcells first year as head coach) the Jets needed a win against Detroit for a chance to win their division for the first time since they were part of the AFL. The Jets jumped out to an early ten point lead, only to watch Barry Sanders and the Lions storm back and capture a 13-10 advantage. Neil O'Donnell and Ray Lucas split time at quarterback struggling to sustain drives and lead the Jets back on top. Late in the fourth quarter, Parcells lacked of confidence in his quarterbacks and called a halfback option pass. New York running back Leon Johnson threw for the end zone, but was intercepted, ending the Jets comeback and playoff hopes. A sobering moment occurred in the game when Lions linebacker Reggie Brown lost consciousness after striking his head on an opposing player, while attempting to recover a fumble. Brown was resuscitated via CPR but suffered a spinal cord injury resulting in temporary paralysis and he would undergo emergency spinal cord surgery to prevent paralysis from becoming permanent.
SERIES AT A GLANCE: The Jets have won their last two meetings with the Lions, most recently on October 22, 2006, prevailing 31-24 at The Meadowlands. Sunday's game between the Jets and Lions will mark their 12th all-time meeting, with the Lions holding the edge 6-5. The Jets are 3-4 all time at Detroit, aiming to improve their peerless 2010 road record to 4-0.