I know some fans will be clamoring for the Bears to rest some starters and get healthy, having already clinched the NFC North last Monday night. I, for one, could not disagree more. Maybe we won’t catch the Falcons for home-field advantage, but getting a first-round bye would be HUGE. For one, you get the bye week to rest and get healthy. Two, you only need 2 wins to get to the Super Bowl, as opposed to 3. Three, the way the seeding is working out now, we would get the winner of the Eagles-Wildcard#2 at home, while the Falcons would have to play the winner of the Rams-Saints. Which will be the Saints. And, if the Saints were to beat the Falcons, we would host the NFC Championship game. So let us not take for granted that we are in the playoffs and there is nothing to worry about until the playoffs start. There is alot on the line for us the next 2 weeks. With that being said, here are some things I will be watching versus the Jets on Sunday:
1) Will our pass protection hold up against Rex Ryan’s pass rush? The Jets run a 3-4 defense, and have god pass rushers in Calvin Pace, Jason Taylor, and others. And while the Jets have 3 really good cornerbacks, their safeties and LBs are slow in coverage. So if our Offensive Line can keep Jay upright, we should be able to exploit Olsen, Forte, and Taylor in the flats and the middle of the field; much like the Patriots did to the Jets with their TEs and RBs in the butt-whooping they put on the Jets a few weeks back.
2) Jay Cutler versus Revis, Cormartie, and Wilson. The Jets corners play alot of man coverage. They play aggressive and like to jump routes. However, they are not blessed with a ton of pure speed. What will be important is our WRs ability to beat jams at the line and get into their timing routes. I expect to see some 5 to 7-yard drag patterns to take advantage of Hester’s and Knox’s speed. Cutler has done a great job of avoiding INTs, and that will really be tested this weekend.
3) Can our defense stop the big plays? In every Jets game I have watched, anytime they score, it is a long pass play on busted coverage or missed tackles on a short pass that turn into a big gain. And our tackling has looked really poor at times over the last 3 weeks. The Jets are saying that Mark Sanchez is a game-time decision; and while I think he is overrated myself, he would be much more of a threat than the Jets’ backup, Mark Brunell—the only QB in the league not named Brett Favre who qualifies for Social Security.
4) Can our special teams coverage units contain Brad Smith? Devin Hester’s accomplishments last Monday night versus the Vikings overshadowed the fact that, for the 3rd straight game, our coverage units consistently gave up tons of field position. I don’t see too many missed tackles, so it is obvious a lack on discipline in lane assignments. And Brad Smith of the Jets showed last week versus the Steelers that he can take it to the house on any kick. This is the type of game that has the potential to be a low-scoring game, and a big special teams play might be the difference.
I think our defense shuts down the Jets and our offense makes a couple big plays and we win, 21-10.