Florham Park, N.J. - The New York Jets (1-4) desperately need a win against the struggling Arizona Cardinals (2-3). After starting 1-1 on the year, the Jets have gone on a three-game skid after losing 31-13 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. After having the same start as their opponents, the Cardinals dropped two in row before coming away with a 33-21 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
The Jets are 6-2 all-time against the Cardinals and have won the last six meetings against Arizona. This game is the first one in Arizona since 2004. The last time the two teams met was in 2012 where the Jets won in a low scoring affair, 7-6.
If the Jets want a shot at making the playoffs, they need to come out on top against a tough team like the Cardinals. Expect both teams to go all out. Here's what to look out for:
When: Monday, October 17, 2016 8:30 p.m. EST
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Avoid Secondary Issues
The secondary for the Jets have been the biggest issue this season. The team ranks 31st in the league in passing defense, allowing 302.4 yards per game through the air. The team goes into Monday with Darrelle Revis not at 100%. They have let up 18 passes of 20 or more yards, five being for deep ball touchdowns. That might not change this week going up against Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown. It doesn't help that Carson Palmer is the one throwing the ball. Marcus Williams is the only one with interceptions on the team, two. The secondary needs to start making plays if the Jets want a chance of coming out on top.
Defensive Line Presence
Seven sacks in Week One was the best performance the defensive line has had in a long time. Since then, the defensive line has almost bee non-existent. The best member on the line has been Leonard Williams, who has surpassed his last season sack total by two in five games. He's also had nine quarterback hits on the young season. The rest of the line, not so much. Sheldon Richardson hasn't been able to get to the quarterback while Muhammad Wilkerson is struggling to get there as well. Steve McLendon shined bright in the season opener, but hasn't been bright since. On paper, this is the most talented defensive line in the NFL. However, teams have been game-planning around the defensive line. On the bright side, the defense is second in the NFL in rushing defense with allowing 68.4 yards per game. If you want to know more about their struggles, click here.
The Running Game
Matt Forte is a workhorse back while Bilal Powell is a speedy and elusive back. There should be no problem in the running game. As of late, however, there have been major struggles in that end. They rank 13th in the league with 104.4 rushing yards per game. Against Pittsburgh, the two backs rushed for 63 yards on 16 carries. Against Seattle the week before, they combined for 53 yards on 18 carries. The two can get their mojo back against Arizona, whose 23rd in the NFL in rush defense, allowing 118.2 yards per game. Both Forte and Powell can receive out of the backfield, but it isn't so long ago that Forte broke off for 96 and 100 yards. If the running game can get off the ground, then the Jets don't need to rely so heavily on the passing attack like they've had in the past couple games.
The Wide Receivers
The news of Eric Decker going on the IR obviously hurts the team big time. Decker had an amazing year last season, bringing in 80 balls for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns. In three games this year, he had nine catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns. With Decker hurt, the pressure of it all falls onto Brandon Marshall. Marshall leads the team with 363 yards and two touchdowns. Now with Decker out, teams will be targeting more on Marshall. Come in Quincy Enunwa. Enunwa leads his team in receptions with 27 and has 294 yards. He has really stepped up this season when the Jets needed him most. Now with Decker out, Enunwa can help take the load off of Marshall. Rookie receivers Robby Anderson, Charone Peake, and Jalin Marshall all need to step up as well. With the signing of Jeremy Butler, it will take a committee to replicate his numbers.
X-FACTOR: RYAN FITZPATRICK
After the first two weeks of the season, Ryan Fitzpatrick really has been struggling. If you don't have a successful quarterback, you won't have a successful season. He threw nine interceptions in two games (six in one game). Last game he didn't really struggle, he just didn't really do much. The touchdown throw to Marshall should have been an interception, but Marshall went over the top to get it. Fitzpatrick has one of the worst completion percentages in the NFL. This season is to prove that last year wasn't just a fluke. Fitzpatrick needs to channel 2015 Fitzpatrick if the Jets want to have a chance to the postseason.
Prediction: Jets 35-24
This is the game that the Jets bounce back and turn their season around. There's a fire under this team to succeed. The Jets know if they come out on top against a tough team like the Cardinals, they will have the confidence for the rest of the season. The Cardinals are a tough team to play at home, but the Jets beat Buffalo at home, another tough team to play on the road. One things for certain: this game is make or break for the season.