In game that will likely come down to who can protect the quarterback best, Geno Smith and the New York Jets host the streaking New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
Smith has been sacked 29 times, Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been taken down 18 times, and both could be down their starting right guards in Week Nine, according to the teams’ official websites.
Saints starting right guard Jahri Evans hasn’t practiced all week with a hip injury, and the Jets' Willie Colon has been out due to a calf injury. New York center Nick Mangold has also been limited by a rib injury.
When given time Smith has thrown six touchdowns to four interceptions in New York wins, but he received little protection last week. Smith threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns and the Jets pass defense gave up five more touchdowns as New York fell to Cincinnati 49-9 last week.
Going 20-for-30 for 159 yards, it was the rookie Smith’s fifth game with at least two interceptions. The Bengals took Smith down three times, and hit him another seven.
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Fourth-year receiver David Nelson was the lone bright spot for New York making eight receptions for 80 yards, while defensive lineman Muhummad Wilkerson recorded his first career interception.
New York’s defense surrendered 402 total yards, and only took down Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton once after averaging at least three sacks in the previous seven games. The 40-point deficit was New York’s worst loss under head coach Rex Ryan since 2010’s 45-3 debacle against New England.
More trouble could be on the way in the form of Brees, and Ryan’s brother Rob greatly improving the New Orleans defense.
Brees spearheads the league’s third best passing attack for 310.7 yards a game, and the defense is fourth in the NFL allowing 17.1 points per game. That kind of balance was on full display in Week Eight, with Brees throwing for five touchdowns and the defense forcing three turnovers in a 35-17 victory.
Tight end Jimmy Graham caught two touchdowns and rookie receiver Kenny Stills caught another two scores with three total catches for 129 yards.
The loss dropped the Jets to 4-4, but they remain two games back of New England in second place in the AFC East. New York is now last in the AFC in turnover ratio at minus-12.
Meanwhile Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins has also been sidelined with a knee injury, and Graham has remained limited in practice for the second straight week due to a foot injury.
The Jets have also been careful with second leading receiver Stephen Hill, who was limited in Thursday’s practice, and veteran receiver Santonio Holmes sat out Wednesday and Thursday.
Betting Odds: New Orleans favored by 6 points
Over/Under: 46 points
Where To Watch Online: NFL Sunday Ticket
TV Channel: FOX
Time: 1 p.m. Eastern Time
Prediction: New Orleans 30, New York 13