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Jets vs. Seahawks: 3 things to watch

Coming off a bye week has historically not been kind for head coach Rex Ryan.

Coming off a bye week has historically not been kind for head coach Rex Ryan. In 2009, the Jets had a Week 9 bye then came back to have a home loss to the lowly Jaguars and a loss the next week in New England. A year later the Jets had an early bye during Week 7 and came out cold in a 9-0 home loss to the Packers. They’re hoping that the form from last year, when they beat the Bills in Week 9 on the road after their bye week, carries on.

The 3-5 Jets must win this game in Seattle to maintain their slim playoff hopes.

Three things to watch for ...

1. Stopping the run

Last Sunday in a win over the Vikings, Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch had his best ground game of the season. Lynch went for 124 yards on 26 carries, including a touchdown. The Seahawks don’t mind spreading their receivers, and forcing the linebackers to pull out wider and be exposed. It isn’t a good matchup on paper for the Jets, who are slow at linebacker and No. 29 in run defense (141.4 yards per game). The good news is that the Jets have tightened down a bit over the last three games, allowing just under 90 yards per game.

“It starts up front. It sounds simple, but [we have] to attack the line of scrimmage and get off blocks and do a better job of tackling,” Ryan said. “When you look at it, that’s happened [recently].”

That trend better continue for the Jets as Lynch has topped 100 rushing yards in five of the Seahawks nine games this year.

2. Which Sanchez steps up?

The bye week better have been good for quarterback Mark Sanchez, who is coming off a rough Week 8 performance against the Dolphins. The offense scored just nine points and he completed just 51.9 percent of his passes. In the previous two weeks it seemed like his woeful form had improved in a tough overtime loss at New England and then a blowout win of the Colts, when his completion percentage was north of 60 percent both times.

“Just keep emphasizing taking care of the football and keep developing these wideouts and growing with these guys. And then the other thing is just, at the end of the day stay positive, no matter what,” Sanchez said. “Just keep staying positive, keep pumping our guys up, keep believing in it and trust the system.”

It will take more than good vibes for the Jets to win, but if Sanchez can get protection against a tough Seahawks pass rush (third in the NFL in sacks), the Jets have a chance on Sunday.

3. The rookie under center

Rookie quarterbacks aren’t supposed to have a relatively seamless transition into the NFL, but Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is doing just that. In fact, his completion percentage, yards per pass attempt and touchdown numbers are all better than Sanchez. He’s thrived in his first year in the league and with his strong arm and outstanding footwork, he’s running the play-action to perfection.

“Russell has a really good arm. He can throw the ball a mile. He has good downfield accuracy and he has great vision. That has fit together. We’ve kept it under wraps as much as we could to help him grow and keep him moving ahead positively in hopes that in the second half of the season we can really start to branch out and blossom. We’ll see how that goes, but he’s done a fantastic job for us. We’re thrilled about it,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “The future for Russell is bright. He’s just learning, but he studies so hard and works so hard at it that he’s going to grow as much as a young guy can grow in this position.”

He also protects the ball well. Only twice this season has Wilson had more interceptions than touchdowns in a game.

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter

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