NY Jets Soar Into Pittsburgh To Face Steelers

By: Michael Robinson | Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The much maligned New York Jets offense silenced its critics for at least one week. They have a much tougher test on Sunday at an angry Pittsburgh Steelers team.

New York is 6-point ‘dogs on the Don Best NFL odds screen despite their Week 1 success. The total is listed at 41½ and kickoff from Heinz Field in the Steel City is set for 4:25 p.m. (ET).

Coach Rex Ryan’s offense was the laughingstock of the NFL in the preseason (going 0-4 straight up and against the spread). The Jets scored one offensive touchdown in total and it came with third-stringer Greg McElroy at the helm. Both Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow were ineffective and the quarterback situation appeared to have disaster written all over it.

Now fast forward to last Sunday. The Jets scored six touchdowns in a 48-28 home win over Buffalo as 3-point favorites. While two of those scores came on defense and special teams, Sanchez (19-of-27 for 266 yards, three TDs and one pick) looked in midseason form, reenergizing the Jets fan base.

New York’s defense did allow 169 rushing yards to Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller, but a lot came with the game out of reach. All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis had a key interception in the first quarter and while he later suffered a concussion, he’s listed as probable for Sunday.

The Jets have to feel great about their start, but certainly can’t get too overconfident. They went 2-6 SU and ATS away last year as part of a disappointing 8-8 campaign that saw them miss the playoffs for the first time in Ryan’s three years.

Pittsburgh had a tough primetime opener at Denver, losing 31-19 as 2½-point underdogs. Peyton Manning didn’t show any rust with a 129.2 quarterback rating, although Pittsburgh still had a chance to win before Ben Roethlisberger threw a pick-six to Tracy Porter with under two minutes remaining.

Ironically, it was Porter’s interception return for a touchdown versus Manning in the Super Bowl a few years back that iced the game for New Orleans.

Coach Mike Tomlin’s guys did control time of possession against Denver (35-25 minutes) despite rushing for just 75 yards (2.9 ypc). Running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman are carrying the load with Rashard Mendehall (knee) still out indefinitely.

One key this Sunday will be pressuring Sanchez, who was not sacked last week despite the presence of highly-paid Buffalo defensive end Mario Williams. Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau got to Manning just two times without star rusher James Harrison (knee).

Harrison is still listed as questionable this week and there are also questions on the right side of the o-line with guard Ramon Foster (eye) and tackle Marcus Gilbert (knee) both questionable. Pittsburgh should get back safety Ryan Clark (spleen).

The Steelers are consistently elite at home, going 7-1 SU and 5-3 ATS last year (the ‘under’ 6-2). They are also 8-0 ATS in their last eight games following a SU loss.

Pittsburgh hasn’t started a season 0-2 since 2002 and Tomlin will pull out all the stops to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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