After being shocked against the lowly Vikings in Minnesota, the 49ers will make the trip to New York for a Sunday afternoon date with the Jets. The 49ers stayed on the east coast this week, so they won’t be making a lengthy cross country plane ride.
It seemed like the Vikings were an easy victory on the 49ers schedule, but they weren’t intimidated in the least by the ‘Niners. The Vikings went on to win, 24-13, thanks to a defense that stifled the 49ers offense all afternoon long. Quarterback Alex Smith was held to 204 yards on 34-45 passing, and Frank Gore was kept in check with 63 yards. The 49ers’ defense didn’t allow a rushing touchdown until December 24th against the Seahawks, but after a 23-yard run by quarterback Christian Ponder, they will need to be content with allowing that in week 3. Ponder also dished out two touchdowns through the air, finishing with 231 total yards. It doesn’t seem all that impressive, but against a stout defense like the 49ers it’s an impressive feat. People that had this game pegged as a trap game were dead on.
The Jets on the other hand had problems of their own, if it wasn’t for two field goals missed, including a potential game winner in overtime by Dan Carpenter. Rex Ryan and the Jets will take it though, after all, at the end of the day a win is a win regardless of how it was accomplished. The biggest blow in this game was certainly the loss of cornerback Darrelle Revis. Rex Ryan came out and said Revis will be healthy for the Super Bowl, though (insert laughter here). I don’t believe his Super Bowl pipe dream will come true, but I think the Jets will be well prepared for the 49ers on Sunday. They looked helpless against the Steelers’ defense in week 2 and nearly lost to the Dolphins last week. With that said, surely the 49ers (-4) look like a steal in this spot, right?
Mark Sanchez looked much improved last week in Miami, passing for 306 yards with a TD and 2 INTs. I say he looked improved due to the fact things couldn’t get much worse after week 2 against the Steelers. Sanchez only completed 10 of 27 passing for 138 yards. The only positive was the first drive of the game when it looked like he was going to put a good game together, capping off a touchdown drive with a strike across the middle to Santonio Holmes. The Jets will undoubtedly be excited to play in front of a home crowd at MetLife stadium. After two shaky games on the road, the Jets will return to the same place they opened the season with a 48-28 blowout over the Buffalo Bills. The Jets offense looked flawless in that one, with Sanchez going 19-27 with 3 TDs and 266 yards. Running back Shonn Greene also had a productive game, rushing for 94 yards on 27 carries. The offense definitely isn’t the Jets identity, though. If they are going to get on a roll, the defense is going to need to play with a fire under them with Revis out for the year. For the most part, the defense has looked out of sync thus far. They are 21st in total team defense, allowing an uncharacteristic 25 points a game. It gets even worse against the run, where they are 28th in that respect, allowing 158 yards per game on the ground.
The 49ers on the other hand thrive off of opposing teams running backs. In 2011 they only surrendered 77.2 yards a game (1st). After three weeks, the rushing defense ranks 9th, allowing 91 yards per game. Much of that to do with Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder last week. As a team the Vikings gashed the 49ers for 146 yards on the ground. This is still arguably the best rushing defense in the NFL, however. The offense seemed to be coming full circle after impressive showings in the first three weeks, but last week they simply looked the ‘Niners of old. Alex Smith passed for 204 yards on 24 of 34 passing, including a touchdown toss and interception. Part of the problem in this one was not getting Frank Gore involved enough. Feeding the ball only 12 times to Gore is unacceptable for a team that is known for their smash mouth style. If they want to get away from their identity, they will continue to be in dog fights for the rest of the year. 34 passing attempts by Smith and only 12 rushing attempts by Gore is not what got the 49ers to the NFC Championship. They are one of the most balanced team in the league, and that’s what they need to get back to offensively, balance.
49ers vs. Jets Spread and Betting Odds:
San Francisco 49ers -4 (-115)
@ New York Jets +4 (-105)
Under 41.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
49ers vs. Jets Pick:
As much as I want to take the points here, I just can’t find a solid enough angle to back the Jets here. The closest team to compare the 49ers with that the Jets have played are the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mark Sanchez looked like a lost puppy when they couldn’t get anything going on the ground. The Steelers simply shut the run down and watched Sanchez make mistake-after-mistake. I think the Revis injury is a death sentence for the Jets’ season. When Revis is on the field the Jets allow 54 percent of passes, when he is absent that number bumps up to 62.5 percent. The Jets already have an overrated defense, in my opinion, and I’m not quite sure this helps anything out any. The defense has allowed 158 yards per game on the ground, a problem that goes back to last year, so this isn’t an isolated sample. If the 49ers pound the ball with Gore early with success, things will start to open up for Alex Smith and the passing game. Seldom used Randy Moss could be in for a good game as he has a good history against the Jets while a Patriot.
Give me the better coach, defense, and offense after a miserable performance in Minnesota. The Jets get exposed again. Subjectivity can bury a sports handicapper; I’ll keep an objective point of view and take the ‘Niners this afternoon.
PICK = 49ers -4