The New York Jets will be battling both physical and mental fatigue when they visit Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football.
Week 11 NFL odds have already been posted at Don Best and New York is a 4 ½-point favorite. The total is still to be released and the NFL Network will have the broadcast from Sports Authority Field at Mile High at 8:20 p.m. (ET).
New York (5-4 straight up, 4-5 against the spread) didn’t get any scheduling breaks in this game, having a very short week of rest after hosting New England on Sunday night and having to battle the high altitude of the Rocky Mountains.
The aforementioned Patriots game was supposed to be a coronation for Rex Ryan and the Jets. The winner would have a stranglehold on the AFC East and that turned out to be New England with a 37-16 win as 2 ½-point closing ‘dogs.
Mark Sanchez has his share of the blame with two interceptions, including a pick-six and an ill-advised timeout in the first half that Ryan called the "stupidest thing in football history." However, the defeat was a team effort, including the defense and coaching staff, and Ryan needs to get his guys focused to go at least 5-2 down the stretch for a wild card.
The best way to rebound is get back to the ‘ground and pound’ rushing attack. The Jets only ran the ball 25 times last week, preferring to chuck it 39 times against the Pats’ worst-ranked pass defense that was also decimated with injuries.
Shonn Greene had some success with 61 yards on 13 carries, but that’s far below the 87.3 YPG and 20 carries he averaged in the three previous contests, wins over Miami (24-6), San Diego (27-21) and Buffalo (27-11). Greene could be carrying the full load with LaDainian Tomlinson (knee) injured last game, but he can handle the extra work.
Denver’s run defense is 16th in the NFL (117.6 YPG). One good thing about Sanchez is he has a short memory after bad games, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him play well.
The Jets are 1-3 SU and ATS on the road, but they were tremendous in the last one at Buffalo, holding down a potent offense. The defense had some problems with New England’s no-huddle and that could be a tactic that Denver copies.
The Broncos are 4-5 SU (4-5 ATS) and miraculously only 1-game out in the AFC West. Tebow has fueled a surge by going 3-1 SU (3-1 ATS) as a starter, all the wins on the road. Each victory by the former Heisman winner is more bizarre than the last, with yesterday’s 17-10 triumph at Kansas City done with just two completed passes and 69 passing yards.
Tebow has a decent 81.7 quarterback rating despite a 44.8 completion percentage and he does make big plays running and throwing at crucial times. The running game overall has been incredible the last two weeks at 271.5 YPG.
The problem Thursday is Willis McGahee (hamstring) is questionable and Knowshon Moreno (knee) doubtful. That could leave just third-string Lance Ball, although he did have 96 yards against the Chiefs on 30 attempts.
Offensive tackle Ryan Clady (leg) is also questionable and it’s hard to imagine Denver running very successfully against the Jets. That stop unit has stiffened on the ground the last four games, including allowing just 60 yards on 28 attempts versus New England.
Denver will have to fool the Jets with a variety of formations and Tebow will have to keep making big plays even if the overall numbers aren’t pretty.
The Broncos are 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS at home. The one home start for Tebow was a 45-10 shellacking by Detroit when he struggled and was called the worst quarterback in the league by a Denver Post writer.
The ‘over’ is 4-0 in Denver’s home games with the defense allowing 29.8 PPG.
These teams last met last year at Mile High with New York getting a 24-20 comeback win as 3 ½-point favorites. Sanchez had 198 passing yards and two picks, while Kyle Orton was the Denver signal caller.
Weather could reach a high of 60 during the day, but the game should be played in the 40s.