Thursday Night Preview: NY Jets-Broncos

A couple weeks ago the Jets-Broncos Thursday night game in Denver (8:15 ET, NFL) looked like a dry game. Denver was going nowhere fast and New York was the rising team in the AFC. Now the Jets are reeling after a humiliating home loss to the Patriots and on the outside looking in for the playoffs, as they trail New England in the AFC East and Pittsburgh & Cincinnati for the wild-card slots. Add to that Denver’s mini-surge to within a game of the AFC West lead since Tim Tebow took over at quarterback, and suddenly we’ve got a game on our hands.

Denver is still winning more in spite of Tebow than because of him—even given the foolish propensity to judge quarterbacks by wins and losses, I trust no one will really assume Denver beat Kansas City last week thanks to Tebow’s two completions for the entire game. But say this for the young quarterback—he’s as tough as advertised and puts his nose in there running and has given a new dimension to the Bronco ground attack.

It’s the defense that’s going to have stand up and counted for Denver tonight though, because even if Tebow lights it up and completes, say 5-7 passes for the night, the running game alone won’t beat the Jets. Denver is going to have to get some real pressure from Elvis Dumervil at defensive end and Von Miller at linebacker. That part is a realistic hope, but what’ s less likely is containing Shonn Greene running the ball if the Jets really commit to establishing him between the tackles. So long as offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer doesn’t get too cute with the play-calling, Greene can have a good game and Mark Sanchez will have openings off of play-action to find tight end Dustin Keller or Santonio Holmes down the field.

The Jets can be a maddening team for their fans, as they proved again last week. But they are also a resilient team under Rex Ryan and I think they’ll be so again tonight. Look for Darrelle Revis to make some big plays in the secondary against the inexperienced Denver signal-caller and the Jets to pull away, say 30-13.