Texans at Jets Monday Night Preview

WILL HOUSTON SLAM THE DOOR SHUT ON THE REX RYAN ERA IN NEW YORK?

You get the feeling right now that the end is near for the Rex Ryan era in New York. Even though the Jets are 2-2 through four games, they were non-competitive versus the only two good teams they faced (Pittsburgh and San Francisco), and they were lucky to beat struggling Miami who's starting a rookie quarterback.

A big national TV home loss on a Monday Night to Houston just might be the final nail in the coffin so to speak. Though, there are some who believe the lid is already so tightly shut that no nails are needed.

Signaling the end of the Ryan era:

  • Things are getting worse not better. Ownership and the fan base will only put up with a downward trend for so long. That's very important with a polarizing coach like Ryan. Things fall apart fast with the big mouths once things go South. We've seen that time and time again in the NFL (it's even a family tradition!).

  • Mark Sanchez is regressing as a quarterback, and is now far past the point where anyone could be enthusiastic about his future. It's one thing to build patiently with a young man who's going to get better. Losing with a guy who's NOT getting better just drives everyone crazy.

  • Tim Tebow looked so bad in practice this year that it's impossible to take him seriously as a man who can come in and save the day. He caught people napping last year. The NFL always, and we mean ALWAYS adjusts well defensively to QB's who are most dangerous as runners. His teammates don't believe in him based on their body language either.

  • The Jets defense has lost its swagger, and its best player. How do you pull out of a tailspin when your defensive pilot is unconscious? The injury to Darelle Revis came at the worst possible time in terms of Ryan's job security.

Yes, it's tough to call 2-2 a pending disaster. The record should be 1-3. And, it's clear at the moment where this train is headed. Can New York change direction tonight against one of the best teams in football? Let's check out some indicator numbers for guidance...

 

HOUSTON TEXANS at NY JETS (8:35 p.m. on ESPN)
Las Vegas Spread: Houston by 8, total of 41

Remember, Houston is the ROAD team here. That's a monster line in the NFL for a visitor, representing a Super Bowl contender facing a doormat. The market is telling you Houston would be about -11 on a neutral field, or -14 at home against the NY Jets. So, the market isn't thinking that everything's okay with the Jets because of that 2-2 record. The market has the Jets as one of the bottom echelon teams in the league right now.

WON-LOST RECORDS
Houston: 4-0 (vs. Miami, at Jacksonville, at Denver, vs. Tennessee)
NY Jets: 2-2 (vs. Buffalo, at Pittsburgh, at Miami, vs. San Francisco)

The Jets can take some solace knowing that Houston may be a bit overrated. That's a very easy schedule to start the season outside of the road game at Denver. Houston may be one of those teams that can roll over patsies, but isn't as great as you'd expect when it's time to step up in class. That being said, the Jets aren't really playing much better than Miami, Jax, and Tennessee right now...which means Houston could be in position to steamroller them by a big score too. The Jets have played the tougher schedule. We'll see if that means anything.

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL
Houston: +7
NY Jets: -2

Some of this is definitely schedule related. Houston is unlikely to be +28 after 16 games even though that's the current pace. And, a road game on a Monday Night can lead to turnovers whoever the opponent is. In front of drunk New Yorkers? Houston will be dealing with some noise, and possibly with a foe that's fighting for its very survival. That sets up the chance at least for Houston turnovers to make this interesting regardless of that positive full season potential. Probably the single biggest factor in the "Monday Night Home Dog" history is the tendency of favorites to screw up more in the spotlight than they usually do. Hope there for the Jets...but that hope revolves around Sanchez playing a clean game vs. a good defense!

OFFENSIVE STATS
Houston: 370.2 yards-per-game on 5.4 yards-per-play
NY Jets: 284.0 yards-per-game on 4.7 yards-per-play

Big edge here for the Texans, though some of this is schedule related. Give Houston matchups with Pittsburgh and San Francisco, and the numbers would drop some. Still, nobody's going to suggest the Jets are in the same neighborhood right now, And, some would argue that Houston has been holding back on offense once they get a big lead. No reason to run up the stats when you're already way ahead! You have to give this category to Houston.

DEFENSIVE STATS
Houston: 273.0 yards-per-game on 4.7 yards-per-play
NY Jets: 370.2 yards-per-game on 5.5 yards-per-play

This is a surprise, with the Jets falling off past norms on this side of the ball to a very noticeable degree. This isn't the Jets team of the past few years that scared people defensively. The model that had been working on both sides of the ball is no longer in play. Again, some of this is schedule related. But, you have to give Houston the big edge on this side of the ball right now too.

LAST WEEK'S BOXES

HOUSTON 38, TENNESSEE 14
Total Yardage: Tennessee 325, Houston 297
Rushing Yards: Tennessee 158, Houston 95
Passing Stats: Tennessee 17-27-2-167, Houston 20-28-0-202
Turnovers: Tennessee 3, Houston 0
Third Downs: Tennessee 33%, Houston 43%
Vegas Line: Houston by 12, total of 40

Here's what we mean about Houston holding back once they get a big lead. They picked up cheap points early, put the game out of reach, then ran clock the rest of the way while posting very soft numbers. Houston could have gained a lot more than 297 yards if they needed to. That suggests a bigger high end for them down the road than some methodologies may be giving them credit for.

SAN FRANCISCO 34, NY JETS 0
Total Yardage: San Francisco 379, NY Jets 145
Rushing Yards: San Francisco 245, NY Jets 45
Passing Stats: San Francisco 12-22-0-134, NY Jets 14-30-0-180
Turnovers: San Francisco 0, NY Jets 4
Third Downs: San Francisco 33%, NY Jets 15%
Vegas Line: San Francisco by 4, total of 41

You may have watched some of this one...though there wasn't much reason to watch after a certain point. The Jets were completely outclassed, and frankly squashed like a bug by the new bully in the league. And, let's be honest here...Houston may be just as good as San Francisco right now. Houston could post a yardage advantage that would cover right off the bat. They could also win the turnover category to boost that up to a monster margin like this one. The Jets really are this far behind the league's elite right now.

BEST EXPECTATION
We have a lot of volatility here...which is common for Monday Night games when the road team is a big favorite. If the superior side plays clean and takes care of business, then the announcers will be going to their filler in the third quarter. But...we've seen often over the years that favorites can become complacent and mistake-prone when they think it's going to be easy. Then a live dog gets some spirit in front of a festive crowd and makes some headlines.

You can't really make a "stat" case for the Jets here based on what they've done vs. quality. The case for the dog comes from the intangibles that often rear their heads under the national TV spotlight. And, whenever the Jets and Ryan are involved...emotions and intangibles typically rule the day anyway.

JIM HURLEY has been working closely with his New York sources to find out if the Jets have thrown in the towel. And, he's been talking with his guys down in Texas to see if Houston is taking this game too lightly. Things have come so easily for Houston that this may be a schedule spot that bites them (the way SF lost at Minnesota, or arrogant New England lost focus vs. Arizona). You'll be able to purchase the final word from NETWORK right here at this website Monday afternoon. Make a few clicks and have your credit card handy.

Today's a great day to attack both football and baseball the way the schedule has set up:

MLB: Washington at St. Louis (Game Two) at 4:37 p.m. ET on TBS
MLB: NY Yankees at Baltimore (Game Two) at 8:07 p.m. ET on TBS
NFL: Houston at NY Jets at 8:35 p.m. on ESPN

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We'll step in for some MLB playoff coverage here in the NOTEBOOK on Tuesday and Wednesday since those are non-football days. Be sure you're with us every day so you know what's REALLY happening in the world of sports. And, link up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK for BIG JUICY WINNERS!

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