Tonight will wrap up week three of the NFL season as the Chicago Bears visit the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium tonight. This is an inter-conference match up that features one of the NFL’s most potent offenses against one of the league’s best front sevens. This is an important game for both teams as they look to keep pace with the leaders in their division. There is also the interesting storyline of former Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes returning to play his former team for the first time.
The predictions for this one are all over the place because both teams are so inconsistent. The Bears got shocked at home against Buffalo week one before taking a trip to the San Francisco 49ers new home where they completed a huge second half comeback to win the game late in the fourth quarter. The Jets handled the Raiders at home week one in what was an ugly game for both teams and then traveled to Green Bay where the outplayed the Packers in the first half, before blowing an 18 point lead and overturning their own scoring play, not by penalty but by an ill-advised timeout.
Both teams sit at .500 for the moment, but the Bears definitely have the momentum coming into the game. Quarterback Jay Cutler looked very comfortable in the second half of last week’s game finding his collection of big targets all over the field. Look for Cutler to continue that tonight with Jets cornerback Dee Milliner likely out for the game. Bears’ running back Matt Forte might find it difficult to get going in between the tackles against the Jets’ stout defensive front but if Bears’ coach Marc Trestman is creative with screens and counters, that could get Forte in some space and let him do some damage.
For the Jets, they have had the week to review what went wrong in their meltdown against Green Bay. The Jets’ best chance at hanging around in this game is to pound the Bears with the run. While they have improved from last year, the Bills pushed around the Bears in their first game, which could be a blueprint for success for this other New York team. Defensively, Jets’ coach Rex Ryan is going to have to balance the desire to get after Cutler and his fear of being burned by the likes of Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett. That trio could spell trouble for a depleted New York secondary. Ryan might be better off running a lot of zone concepts in order to protect some of his young corners from going one-on-one with some of the league’s best receivers.
Overall, I think we are going to see two very different styles of offense as the Bears will run screens early and often while looking to take plenty of deep shots. The Jets will focus heavily on running the ball and keeping the ball out of Cutler’s hands. Their passing game will likely focus on short routes and high percentage throws, especially with Jets’ wide out Eric Decker being hobbled. This should be a competitive game but the Bears should prove to be too much for the Jets, as they can’t seem to find enough offensive firepower to support their reeling secondary. Bears win it with a late touchdown to seal the victory 27-17.