Not Drinking that Green Kool-Aid

Everyone is one the Jets’ bandwagon. They have a fiery coach with big personality. They have a ferocious defense with a swagger about them. After falling a two touchdowns short of the Super Bowl last season, they brought in several savvy veterans too add to an already star-filled roster. But I just can’t see them being a Super Bowl contender, let alone a division winner. So, no, I am not drinking that Jets Green Kool-Aid.

My main problem with the Jets starts at the top: they are a smash-mouth old-fashion team run by the coach with a bigger mouth the Bengals’ receiving corps. All of the old-fashioned football players and fans will tell you that establishing the run is the way to win the game, but as Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz points out, that’s not the case. Furthermore, let’s take a look at the top teams from last year record-wise. We’ve got the Colts, Saints, Chargers, Vikings, Cowboys, Packers, Eagles, Patriots, and Cardinals. Do you notice a pattern? They’re all pass-heavy teams.

The Jets’ pass game is not only sub-par, it’s near incompetent. In his rookie season, Mark Sanchez threw 12 touchdowns to a whopping 20 interceptions and 10 fumbles. The easiest way to lose a game is by turning the ball over, and Sanchez has proved he can do that well. After only completing 53.8% of his passes and 162.9 yards per game, Sanchez was the fourth worst quarterback, only standing in front of the great Brady Quinn, a rookie in Detroit, and a syrup chugger.

After his first eight games of the 2010 season, the Sanchize isn’t doing much better. His completion percentage dropped even lower to 53%, although he is starting to limit his turnovers. In the Jets’ four home games (against Baltimore, New England, Minnesota, and Green Bay), he’s been even worse. Only completing 51% of his passes, Sanchez can’t make the big play to win the game for New York.

But so what? We’ve seen that teams that can win the Super Bowl without a superstar quarterback. Baltimore and Tampa won it all less than ten years ago with a great defense and running game, right? Right?

Wrong.

Football has changed dramatically since the turn of the century; smash-mouth football just isn’t the way to win anymore, you have to be able to air it out. Let’s take a look at the last seven quarterbacks of Super Bowl champions. Brees. Roethlisberger. Manning. Manning. Roethlisberger. Brady. Brady. See the pattern? If you can’t depend on your quarterback to lead you down the field in the biggest moments, you’re not going to win it all. Do you wonder why the Bengals and Chiefs won’t be winning the Super Bowl this year? It’s not because they don’t play great defense; it’s because Carson Palmer and Matt Cassel cannot and will not make the big play.

Even though the Jets brag about having a fantastic run game and defense, they both have big holes, gigantic question marks. Letting go of Thomas Jones this off-season was a giant mistake. TJ averaged 1275 yards over the last five seasons, the most in the NFL except for LaDainian Tomlinson. Ultimately, the Jets didn’t want to pay Jones his $3 million roster bonus on top of his regular salary of $2.8 million.

But now, for the Jets, Thomas Jones is behind them. Other than money, the main reason the Jets felt it necessary to part ways with TJ was the play of rookie Shonn Greene. Drafted with the first pick in the third round of the 2009 draft, Shonn Greene parlayed a standout junior year into a very good NFL job. Even though he only had one year of starting experience, Greene rushed for 5 yards per pop on 108 carries. Greene impressed the Jets’ brass so much, especially in the last two regular season weeks and into the playoffs, that he was handed the starting job.

Now people have tape. Now people see Greene as more than a third down back. Teams have been able to slow Greene to a crawl, and he’s been replaced by LT. LT! The man was over the hill last year! Somehow, he’s been rejuvenated by the change

But I just can’t buy this team as being better than last year. They have a worse running game; LT is no upgrade, he’s not going to be playing this good at the end of the season. They have a target on their backs; every team will take their best shots just to get Rex Ryan and Bart Scott to shut up. The Sanchize can’t make the big play, but he will make the big mistake. I just don’t see it this year.

To top off this pie in the face of the Jets, they have a Kris Jenkins-sized target on their backs. Last season, they were under the radar as a low-scoring team run by a rookie head coach and QB. This season, they’re the biggest talkers with the farthest to walk. They’ll be taking every team’s best shot week after week; there’s no more being overlooked.

Smashmouth teams won’t win championships in this day and age. If you can’t depend on your quarterback to take you on the biggest drive of the game, you aren’t going to win. This team is just too inconsistent for my taste; I just will not drink that green Kool-Aid.

Here are my Week 10 NFL Picks; home teams in CAPS:

Ravens (+1.5) over FALCONS
Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco will be tied together forever. The first two QBs taken in the 2008 draft, Ryan and Flacco were coveted by both Atlanta and Baltimore, but the Falcons had the first choice. After Ryan was taken by Atlanta with the third pick, Baltimore traded down and eventually took Flacco. Both turned out to be studs, leading their respective teams to the playoffs. Which player is better? Ryan. Which team is better? Baltimore.

Lions (+2.5) over BILLS
Why on Earth should I take an 0-8 team over a competent offense?

Vikings (-1.5) over BEARS
No matter how dysfunctional the Vikes are, they are extremely talented. I also have to think that if there were no hope, Favre would have retired. He’s still playing and the Bears still have no O-Line. I’ll take the Vikings, please.

Jets (-3.5) over BROWNS
As much as I do not buy the Jets, I will not take the Browns. They caught the Pats and Saints in trap games, and if you think Peyton Hillis will run all over New York’s D, you’re crazy. Colt McCoy will get a wake-up call this week, and the Jets should win this handily. This is your Bojangles’ Famous Sweet Tea Lock o’ the Week.

COLTS (-7.5) over Bengals
I cannot stress this enough: the Bengals are a terrible, awful, no-good team. Carson Palmer somehow gets enough garbage yards at the end of every week to be a semi-competent fantasy quarterback, but he’s just a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad real life quarterback.

Titans (+0.5) over DOLPHINS
I do not care if Randy Moss does not give it his all every down. I do not care if he can be a head case. Even at age 33, he commands double teams, which opens up the field for the Nate Washingtons of the world. Do you know why Percy Harvin averaged 94.4 yards per game in Weeks 5-9? Because Randy Moss opened the field up for him. Do you know why Wes Welker averaged 34.5 yards in the same period? Because Deion Branch just doesn’t command the same respect as Mr. Moss.

Panthers (+7.5) over BUCCANEERS
The Bucs are really puzzling. They beat up on bad teams, but not at home. They don’t even average two touchdowns at home, and they rush for nearly 30 less yards than on the road. Now with all of that being said, I still expect the Bucs to pull this out at home. Just not by more than a touchdown.

Texans (+1.5) over JAGUARS
The Jaguars are bad and you cannot convince me otherwise. Mike Sims-Walker is back to being inconsistently good (or consistently inconsistent), but that will not win you games. As long as David Garrard is leading the offense, opponents can stack seven or eight players in the box. If the other team’s offense has any pulse (and the Texans certainly qualify there), they should be able to handily beat these toothless cats.

Chiefs (-0.5) over BRONCOS
If Timmy Tebow was running the offense with Jesus Christ and nine disciples, I still wouldn’t take the Broncos.

Cowboys (+13.5) over GIANTS
I might be the only one who somewhat believes in Dallas. I may be the only one who still thinks Jason Garrett can be a solid coach. I may be the only one who thinks the Cowboys can transform their image in a week’s time. But I can’t be the only one who likes an extremely talented team plus nearly two touchdowns.

Seahawks (+3.5) over CARDINALS
I usually don’t go with the Seahawks on the road, but the Cardinals are really bad. Just knowing Derek Anderson is the starting quarterback should be enough to take Seattle here.

Rams (+5.5) over NINERS
Sam Bradford is the real deal. But at the same time, Bradford owes one man a big thank you: Jake Locker. Locker would have been the first overall pick, but had a Matt Leinart-esque brain fart and returned for his senior year. Now, Bradford is the first overall pick and likely $30 million richer. Locker may be a mid-first rounder instead of the top pick, so he cost himself millions upon millions. So here’s some advice for future players contemplating leaving early: if your stock cannot get any higher, LEAVE!

TFB.

TFB.

Patriots (+4.5) over STEELERS
These two teams could be the best of the AFC. New England has the superior offense but a porous defense. Pittsburgh has a solid offense and great defense. So why am I riding with the Patriots? TFB.

Eagles (-3.5) over REDSKINS
Michael Vick has never ever seen weapons like he has in Philly. DeSean Jackson. Jeremy Maclin. Brent Celek. LeSean McCoy. Who did he have in Atlanta? Alge Crumpler. Brian Finneran. Michael Jenkins. Peerless Price. Ashley Lelie. And no one ever had more than 877 yards in a single year.

Last Week: 7-6

Season: 53-64

Bojangles Lock o’ the Week: 7-2

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