Believe it or not, it’s already week four of the NFL regular season. Sunday the New York Jets (1-2) will host the Seattle Seahawks (2-1). Both teams will faceoff at MetLife Stadium for the first time ever. The Seahawks are coming of a 37-18 victory over the San Francisco 49ers last week, while the Jets are looking to bounce back after being thumped by the Kansas City Chiefs 24-3.
Sunday afternoon should feel like a playoff atmosphere in New Jersey as the crowd will be fired up for some October football. Fans are encouraged to arrive at the stadium dressed in white because the Jets will be hosting its third annual “White Out” game. Here’s what you should watch for during the game:
WHEN: Sunday, October 2, 2016 1 p.m. EST
WHERE: MetLife Stadium East Rutherford, N.J.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Head coach Todd Bowles admitted after last week’s loss that it was one of the worst game plans he’s ever had entering a game. The Jets can’t afford to have that happen Sunday and must bring the intensity early and often. Seattle’s defense hasn’t allowed a first half touchdown all season and if the Jets want win the game getting points on the board early will help the cause. The Seahawks aren’t the same team when flying to the east coast and playing on Eastern Standard Time. Sunday will be the perfect time for the Jets to come out and set the tone. Protecting home turf is something the Jets have yet to accomplish this season. By starting the game strong the Jets can reap all the benefits of having a 12th man on the field, just ask the Seahawks.
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s six interception performance last week is something he can’t let linger come Sunday. The Seattle secondary is just as good if not better than Kansas City’s with guys like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor so there will be no drop off in physicality, as the Seahawks rank have the second best pass defense in the league. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey must call a perfect game and keep Seattle’s defense guessing. Since 2010, the Seahawks are 37-10 when winning the turnover battle, while the Jets have the worst turnover differential in the league. The Jets need to control the football and the clock to win. A steady diet of Matt Forte and Bilal Powell will help keep Fitzpatrick out of harm’s way, especially with Eric Decker being out of the game with a partial tear in his rotator cuff.
The defensive line must get after a hobbled Russell Wilson. Wilson has never missed a start in his NFL career but will be wearing a knee brace Sunday after suffering sprained left MCL last week. Wilson also has a minor ankle injury. Seattle’s new look offensive line is still a work in progress and should be no match for the New York’s down lineman. The rotation got a bit shorter this week when defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas was placed on IR with a torn labrum. Expect Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams and Steve McLendon to get a lot of snaps. If the Jets play a 4-3 set these four can make it a long afternoon for Wilson and the offensive line.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin is a player that comes to work every day to do his job. His consistency is often over looked by fans and media, but the Jet defense knows that Baldwin is an impact player who is capable of torching an opposing defense.
"He's a solid player," said Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers. "I don't know why he doesn't get enough credit."
In his sixth season, Baldwin currently ranks seventh all-time in Seahawks history with 4,102 receiving yards and sixth all-time in receptions at 294. Baldwin has played in 81 of 83 career games and has suited up for all 16 games for three consecutive years. Last season, he notched his first 1,000 yard season posting 1,069 yards and 14 touchdowns on just 78 receptions. Baldwin's chemistry with quarterback Russell Wilson translated to a Super Bowl title in 2014. As good as they are now both players have plenty of time to get better as they are just barely entering the prime of their careers, which is scary. Coming off of a monster game (eight catches, 164 yards and one touchdown) against the 49ers, the Stanford product will face the toughest secondary he's seen all year in the Jets, who have had its share of problems on defense. Baldwin can line up anywhere on the field as a receiver, but the Jet defense will be alert. Darrelle Revis, Marcus Williams and Buster Skrine could all potentially be matched up with Baldwin at some point on Sunday.
X-FACTORS- Quincy Enunwa & Jimmy Graham
With Decker out Sunday, Quincy Enunwa will have to step up big time. His teammates and coaches have lauded over his work ethic during the offseason, Sunday he'll have enough opportunities to make something happen. After suffering a season ending knee injury last season, tight end Jimmy Graham is back this season looking to return to Pro Bowl form. Last week, Graham caught six passes for 100 yards and one touchdown. He's a matchup nightmare for linebackers and safeties. David Harris, Calvin Pryor and Marcus Gilchrist will have a lot to deal with.
Prediction: Jets 20-17
Revis said it’s “a must win” game for Gang Green and with the New England Patriots approaching a 4-0 start without Tom Brady, this couldn’t be a more important time for the Jets to turn its season around against an elite team. Seattle is 5-1 in its last six road games but with a banged up Russell Wilson and a suspect offensive line, the Jets will play inspired football, force a few turnovers and avoid going 1-3. I’m riding with the Jets at home in a close game.
Marcus Reynolds is a staff writer for Jetsinsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@Marcus_JRNL), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).