At the end of the season, the New York Jets could be looking at last week’s win as a turning point in their season. After an upset victory on Monday Night Football, the Jets will now look to take care of business against an winless team.
In Week Five, New York went into Atlanta as double-digit underdogs and beat the Falcons. In Week Six, they 3-2 Jets host the Pittsburgh Steelers, who come into the contest at 0-4.
Geno Smith had the best performance of his rookie season in the most recent victory. He threw a career-high three touchdowns and didn’t throw an interception for the first time. Perhaps most impressive was the drive that he engineered that the end of the fourth quarter. With the ball at the 20-yard line and his team trailing 28-27 with 1:54 remaining, the quarterback led the Jets 55 yards into field goal range.
"I needed to adjust my mentality coming into this game," Smith said, who led the AFC in turnovers prior to the game. "I made it my duty to not put us in harm's way, to not have stupid penalties, turnovers, anything that can jeopardize this team."
Santonio Holmes sat out with a hamstring injury, and it’s unknown when he’ll return. Smith completed 16 of 20 pass attempts, despite missing his top target. It was his first game since finding out that Mark Sanchez had been officially lost for the season because of shoulder surgery.
“It was a tremendous game for him,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “The 80% completion rate, extremely accurate with the ball, made some great decisions. I thought he ran hard. I thought it was a great game on his part.”
Ben Roethlisberger has been a perennial winner since he was drafted in 2004, but the rookie Smith is having more success than him in 2013. In fact, few other quarterbacks have had the disappointing season that Roethlisberger is enduring. He leads an offense that ranks 29th in the NFL. Only the Giants, Buccaneers and Jaguars, who are all winless, have had a more difficult time scoring.
The quarterback hasn’t gotten much help, though, playing behind a struggling offensive line. He’s fifth in the league in sacks, even though the Steelers are one of a few teams that had had their by weeks. According to cornerback Ryan Clark, the veteran may be trying to do too much.
“You to have to protect Ben against Ben," Clark told ESPN. "Right now, we have to tone Ben down in a sense and say, ‘Hey, right now, we're not a good enough football team for you to try to extend plays, for us to take sacks, for us to have turnovers.' ”
Clark might want to look at the Steelers’ running game for the main reason why the team can’t get into the end zone. They have the worst rushing offense in the league, averaging 58 yards per game. Rookie Le’Veon Bell will get the bulk of the carries after returning from an injury. He’ll play behind an offense live that will feature some changes. The Steelers traded for left tackle Levi Brown, and guard Ramon Foster could be out with a strained pectoral muscle.
Pittsburgh heads to MetLife Stadium, having had two weeks to prepare for the Jets. The Steelers are 5-1 in the game following their bye, under head coach Mike Tomlin.
Start Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Betting Odds: New York-1.5, 41
TV Channel: CBS
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket Max
Prediction: New York 24, Pittsburgh 13