New York Jets (2-8) +14, 47 O/U at Dallas Cowboys (9-1) -14, Texas Stadium, Texas, 4.15pm EST Thursday
by The Crazy Snake of Predictem.com
There were suggestions the Steelers showed up flat last week in their shock loss to the Jets. But let’s give credit to the Jets. They achieved a few things last week that few teams have accomplished of late. Thomas Jones was the first running back this season to rush for over 100 yards against the Pittsburgh defense. The Jet defense sacked Ben Roethlisberger no less than 7 times. This then 1-8 team managed to fight back after leading for 3 quarters only to see that lead evaporate inside the last 3 minutes. Yet they still managed to produce, firstly an excellent defensive effort to force the Steelers to punt, but then drive to within field goal range and slot the game tieing FG as time expired. That effort continued into overtime and they took out the game on a 38 yard field goal from Mike Nugent.
These are not typical behaviors for a 1-8 team. Not even from a 2-8 team. They are the behaviors of a team intent upon making some noise and playing spoiler for some of the class of this competition. They are the behaviors of a team that has found a freshness and belief and is beginning to enjoy the challenge of bringing respect to a season that was meandering towards a tame and prize-less conclusion. Now they have their first prize; a win over the highly ranked Steelers. They will want another prize; the scalp of the NFC’s elite Dallas Cowboys.
Pittsburgh probably did Dallas a favor. At least Dallas will see the threat coming. They did enough to win last week after starting sluggishly against the Redskins. After fighting back with a typically strong second half effort, they then went to sleep with a 12 point lead and gave the Skins 3 opportunities to snatch the game. The Jets have already proven they have a mindset and a willingness to work hard when such an opportunity presents so Dallas will need to remain focused.
It’s not as though Dallas doesn’t have a lot to play for. With Green Bay also at 9-1, it is vital for Dallas that they keep winning in order to maintain box seat for home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. An NFC championship game at Texas Stadium would appeal to them far more than a trip to Lambeau Field for title honors.
And so to the match up. We need to reset our expectations on the Jets a little bit here. With Kellen Clemens under center, this appears to be a far more resourceful offense. Clemens showed a willingness to make things happen and Dallas will need to be wary of that threat. Defensively the Jets were quite impressive at times against the Steelers.
Offensively, Dallas appears to be significantly more potent than the Steelers and the Jets will have to adjust to a very different style. Romo to Owens is starting to rack up some significant numbers and is looming as a massive threat to any opponent they face. The Jets will have to go a long way to shutting down that combination if they wish to contemplate anything other than a heavy loss. They do not have the offensive weapons to go with the Cowboys if they try to shoot it out. The Jets will try to run Thomas Jones at this highly ranked rush defense and control the clock. They were able to soak up chunks of time against the Steelers with a similar attack and this will be their chance to keep it close and try to forge ahead at some point.
Dallas will try to shut down the run and put maximum pressure on the Jet’s young quarterback. If they achieve this it will be a long day for the Meadowland natives. On the front of motivation, I see Dallas with some extra incentive here. They were a little bit tentative at the end against Washington and it feels as though that is likely to sting them into action. With huge stakes up for grabs in this one I see Dallas showing up with fire in their eyes. Despite the recent improvement in the form of the Jets this should still be a relatively easy Dallas victory. Anything else would be a massive upset and a major dent to the Cowboys’ post season prospects.
The Snake’s Bite: The vast majority of cappers would probably avoid this 14 point start like the proverbial plague. There is an element of the unknown about the Jets at this time and 14 points would seem like a bunch. However, with motivation, offensive weapons, and the writer’s suspicions about the relative quality of the Steelers, I find myself liking Dallas to put up a big score here. I am willing to give up the points. The Jets still have to prove to me they can muster consistent performances and they are on the road here. Take Dallas at the -14 to prove their quality.