Any faint playoffs hopes the Arizona Cardinals are clinging to as we begin December must commence with a victory over the New York Jets Sunday at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands. The Red Birds are reeling with seven consecutive losses and their once promising season is on the line with every remaining game they play. Let's take a look at what should be a turnover-filled contest:
New York Jets (4-7)
It's been a disastrous season for Gang Green. Between the Tim Tebow mess, the season-ending injuries to Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes, the inept pass rush, the red zone interceptions from quarterback Mark Sanchez….you catch my drift. Owner Woody Johnson is getting restless. There are rumblings in New York about whether head coach Rex Ryan can survive this very disappointing season. He might survive but General Manager Mike Tannebaum's head may be on the chopping block in a month. Someone has to pay, right?
The over/under on turnovers in this game might be around six because these are two of the most turnover prone teams in the NFL. Sanchez has tossed 10 interceptions, many in the red zone, with just 12 touchdown passes. His QB rating is a meager 75.6. He might have one of the poorest receiving corps in the league to throw these days, although leading receiver Jeremy Kerley (45-664-2) is a gritty and underrated WR.
The Jets will try and establish the run with Shonn Greene (702 rushing yards, five TD). Greene is a strong runner between the tackles but he has limited speed and rarely gets around the edge. Bilal Powell has come on of late and will spell Greene from time to time.
Defensively, the Jets have registered just 17 sacks, the third worst total in the NFL. Their linebackers are rather slow but their secondary is still solid, led by cornerback Antonio Cromartie and safety LaRon Landry, a tough hitter - New York ranks seventh in the league in pass defense (211 YPG).
Joe McKnight is one of the best kickoff return men in the league, averaging 28.4 yards per return, including a 100-yarder for a TD earlier this season.
Kevin Kolb (chest, ribs) appears to be at least a week away from returning so rookie signal-caller Ryan Lindley will get the nod again on Sunday. Lindley's first NFL start was a disaster against the Rams last week. Although he threw for 312 yards, the San Diego State product looked indecisive and tossed four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. The Red Birds' offensive line did a nice job protecting him overall, allowing just two sacks.
You have to feel bad for Larry Fitzgerald – the All-Pro has been reduced to just another wide receiver these days due to inept quarterback play and double teams. Fitzgerald (55-627-4) has only four receptions for 42 yards over his last two games. Kolb can't return soon enough to suit him. It's a shame to see one of his prime years wasted like this.
Both Beanie Wells (knee) and Andre Roberts (ankle) are questionable for Sunday's game. It's amazing how injury prone Wells is. He just returned last week after missing seven games with turf toe. LaRod Stephens-Howling (312 rushing yards, four TD) would step in for Wells again if he can't suit up and rookie Michael Floyd would start in Roberts' place.
On a positive note (finally), defensive end Calais Campbell (calf) is expected to play after missing the last two games. The Cardinals miss him a great deal. He has 3.5 sacks and creates a great deal of pass rush pressure.
Prediction: Wow, this is a tough one. Both teams are sinking fast. Both teams have a myriad of issues. I just feel the Jets will rattle Lindley enough to escape with a turnover-filled victory. This contest will not be one for the time capsule. The Cards drop their eighth straight. Jets 20, Cardinals 17.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Arizona, Arizona Cardinals, Calais Campbell, Football, Jay Feely, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Mark Sanchez, Michael Floyd, NFL, Ryan Lindley