RAVENS RUN OFFENSE VS. JETS RUN DEFENSE: The Jets have spent the days leading up to the game answering questions about what has happened to their run defense. Unable to set the edge and deal with the Oakland Raiders’ speed last week, they were gashed for 234 yards on the ground, an average of 7.3 yards per carry by Darren McFadden and company. The Jets currently rank 31st in the NFL in run defense, a surprise considering that they ranked third in the NFL in that category last season, and they boast fast and athletic linebackers in David Harris and Bart Scott. The Ravens didn’t run the ball a lot last week against the St. Louis Rams, but they still accumulated 168 yards on the ground and averaged 6.5 yards per carry. The Ravens are eighth in the league with 383 rushing yards and Ray Rice is ninth in the league with 231 yards despite ranking 20th in the NFL with 41 carries. Rice was shut down by the Jets in last year’s season opener, gaining 43 yards on 21 carries. It’s likely that the Ravens will try to establish him early.
RAVENS PASS OFFENSE VS. JETS PASS DEFENSE: The Ravens passing attack gained a ton of confidence against the Rams, as Joe Flacco passed for a career-high 389 yards, rookie Torrey Smith caught three first-quarter touchdown passes and seven different players had catches. It will be a totally different challenge Sunday against a Jets secondary that features one of the league’s best cornerback tandems in Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. The Jets have held quarterbacks to a 64.1 passer’s rating, the NFL’s best mark. They have also allowed the fourth fewest passing yards in the league. Cromartie, who is questionable with bruised ribs and lungs, has been shaky at times, committing four penalties last week and fumbling a kickoff. The Ravens attacked him last season, drawing four penalties. They were also able to make some plays on young corner Kyle Wilson. Anquan Boldin caught seven balls for 110 yards in that game, though Revis didn’t play. The Jets have nine total sacks, and it’s fair to expect that Rex Ryan will get after Flacco and force him to get rid of the ball early.
JETS RUN OFFENSE VS RAVENS RUN DEFENSE: The Jets running game has been virtually nonexistent, totaling just 246 yards, the eighth lowest total in the NFL. That doesn’t figure to change much this week against a Ravens defense that has been stingy against the run. The Ravens have allowed 252 rushing yards through three games. The longest run they have allowed is 23 yards. Jets lead back Shonn Greene has just 134 yards rushing in three games, and LaDainian Tomlinson has just 62 yards on 17 carries while remaining a threat in the passing game. The pair did have moderate success in limited opportunities against the Ravens last year, rushing 16 times for 80 yards. Jets All-Pro center Nick Mangold missed last week’s game with a high ankle sprain and his return Sunday is tenuous. His absence would leave rookie Colin Baxter making his second start. Ryan, more than anybody, knows that running the ball on the Ravens will start with neutralizing Haloti Ngata and getting a body on Ray Lewis.
JETS PASS OFFENSE VS. RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: Quarterback Mark Sanchez had a subpar day against the Ravens last season, completing just 10 of 21 passes for 74 yards. Slowly but surely, the Jets have put more and more responsibility on their young single caller, and Sanchez has responded by throwing for 886 yards and six touchdowns. He has thrown four interceptions and been sacked nine times. The key will be whether the Jets offensive line, anchored by left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, can keep Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson in check. If Sanchez gets the time, he has more than enough weapons to give the Ravens defense problems. Wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress have combined for 12 touchdowns against them during their days with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Former Raven Derrick Mason will work out of the slot, while tight end Dustin Keller demands attention down the field. The Ravens have had trouble covering pass-catching tight ends in the past. The Ravens pass defense has allowed 245.3 yards a game, 17th in the NFL.