The Jets are only sitting at .500, but they’re coming in hot.
Literally half of the league is also sitting at 1-1, but for Gang Green, their current standing just feels different. A seemingly fluky one-point loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the opener – where kicker Nick Folk missed his first career extra point – is the only thing keeping the Jets from being among the unbeaten. The ship was immediately righted last week in Buffalo, as they nearly racked up 500 yards of total offense en route to scoring 37 points, and featured two 100-yard receivers and a 100-yard rusher.
Sunday’s tilt (4:25 p.m., CBS) at Kansas City (1-1) provides a stiff test, as Arrowhead Stadium is notoriously hellacious on opposing teams. It’s the second-straight road game for the Jets, and they saw what a fast start for the home team could do for their squad, so they’ll need to take the air out of the stadium as soon as possible.
The key may lie with running back Matt Forte, who is used a variety of ways in Chan Gailey’s offense. Forte is a dual threat who can give the Chiefs’ sagging defense fits, both as a runner and receiver. He’s touched the ball an amazing 59 times so far in just two games, meaning he’ll likely be an important piece of the offense yet again.
Metro takes a look at other storylines to follow, as the Jets invade Arrowhead.
What to Watch For:
Fast starts: The Jets aren’t alone in wanting to get off to a fast start, as the Chiefs have yet to do so in their first two contests. Kansas City has yet to convert a single third down in the first quarter this season, currently sitting at 0-of-6. Their first-quarter woes extend to the defensive side of the ball, as opponents have combined for 248 total yards in the first stanza. Kansas City’s offense has only notched a mere 96 net yards in comparison, including just 24 on the ground. The Jets need to pounce on the Chiefs early and really let doubt creep into an already fragile squad that really should be 0-2, after barely escaping with an overtime win in its season opener after being down 18 points in the second half to the hapless San Diego Chargers.
Jets need to attack via the passing game: Wideout Brandon Marshall’s status is in doubt with knee and foot ailments, Eric Decker is dealing with a shoulder malady – although he noted he’s playing – and Quincy Enunwa is also dealing with rib discomfort. Marshall may be the wideout with the most doubt, but even if he can’t go, Ryan Fitzpatrick and co. need to still go after a young Chiefs secondary. Second-year cornerback Marcus Peters, the lone star at the position, had two interceptions against the Houston Texans, last week. Peters already has 10 career interceptions, which is the most in the league in that time period, so he is a threat. But the rest of Kansas City’s secondary can be had. Fitzpatrick looked as if he was playing for the AFL’s version of the Jets with so many attempts downfield. He should be actively seeking to do the same on Sunday, especially after watching on film the way the Texans used big plays from their wideouts en route to having two 100-yard receivers on the day.
Gang Green ganging up: Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith was very reverential when talking about the Jets’ pass rush – and with good reason. Gang Green has notched seven sacks and two interceptions in the first two games, and the Chiefs offensive line is under construction.
“They’re good. Every guy out there can go and get after it, run or pass,” said Smith, via conference call. “It’s definitely a big challenge for us. Those guys [Jets defensive line] really set the tone.”
The tone could be set immediately if the Chiefs don’t fix their protection issues. Rookie left guard Parker Ehinger remains in the concussion protocol and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff is dealing with an ankle issue. If they can’t go, that leaves the Chiefs with backup guards Zach Fulton and Jah Reid as the starters – and both struggled mightily against the Texans in allowing four sacks and nine hits on Smith, two of which caused fumbles by the quarterback. The Jets’ defensive front is every bit as talented as Houston’s, so look for Muhammad Wilkerson and Co. to really make life miserable for the Chiefs’ offense.