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NFL Preview - N.Y. Jets (5-5) at Baltimore (4-6)



By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor

(SportsNetwork.com) - They're the defending Super Bowl champions, but the Baltimore Ravens find themselves in the unlikely position of having to pursue the New York Jets.

At 4-6 through 10 games, the Ravens are smothered in a six-team AFC pileup that's collectively on a quest to reel in the Jets, who enter Week 12 in possession of a 5-5 record and the conference's final postseason wild card slot on the way to a Sunday visit to M&T Bank Stadium.

Baltimore did itself no favors in a Week 11 loss at Chicago, its fourth loss of the season by three or fewer points and fifth of the year by a touchdown or less. Only one of the Ravens' six losses, a 49-27 debacle at Denver on Sept. 5, came by more than a single score.

The game against the Bears was delayed by more than two hours by severe weather.

"In the end, it comes down to winning a tight game and doing the things you have to do to win a tight game," coach John Harbaugh said. "That's what we have to continue to work on doing a better job of because we haven't done a good enough job in close games."

Quarterback Joe Flacco earned a six-year, $120 million contract by performing well in tight spots en route to last season's championship, but he's plummeted to 26th-best in the league this year with a 75.3 passer rating. His 13 interceptions through 10 games are more than he's ever had through 16.

Against the Bears, he was picked off twice - once for a TD - and completed 17- of-31 passes for one Baltimore score.

"We all wish we could play better, and that starts with me," Flacco said. "Up to this point, no, I haven't and we haven't played the way we want to - or should. It's annoying. I'm a guy that does not like to throw interceptions. Believe me, I don't like the fact that when you look at what we've done, that I've thrown. That's tough."

The Ravens are 30th in the league in total yards - 308.5 per game - and 23rd in the league with a minus-5 turnover ratio. It hasn't exceeded 20 points since a Week 5 at Miami.

Still, the Bears allowed them to gain a season-best 174 rushing yards, including 131 from Ray Rice, who'd had just 289 yards in his initial eight games.

Against the Jets, Rice and Co. will get a second look at former teammate Ed Reed, who started the season with Houston - and faced the Ravens in Week 3 - and will see them again in his second appearance with the Jets after signing on with them after he was waived by the Texans.

Not to mention, Jets coach Rex Ryan was a Baltimore assistant from 1999 to 2008.

Ryan, Reed and the rest of Gang Green are licking their collective wounds as they head to Maryland after an ugly 37-14 loss at Buffalo in a game New York was hoping would give it a playoff positioning cushion down the stretch.

Instead, the Jets continued what's now a post-merger NFL-record streak of alternating wins and losses from the start of a season. New York was beaten by 40 points at Cincinnati on Oct. 27, toppled once-beaten New Orleans, 26-20, a week later and had a one-week bye before the blowout at Buffalo in which starting quarterback Geno Smith was benched.

The rookie will start this week after completing only eight of 23 passes and being intercepted three times against the Bills. He was relieved by Matt Simms, who connected on four of six throws for 60 yards and a TD.

Smith has thrown 16 interceptions for the season and trails only Eli Manning's 20 league-wide.

"I don't think statistics tell every single thing, every part of the story," Smith said. "I obviously don't want my stats to look like that and I don't want to play like that. But I've gotten better. I've become a smarter player. Every player in the NFL, everyone's job is on the line, every single person. That's day to day, no one's job is 100 percent secured."

Ryan insisted the youngster's job is safe, at least for now.

"I've watched the tape. I put myself through it again and I think, without question, Geno's going to start this game," he said. "I think Geno has a chance to be a good quarterback. We have to get him dialed in better."

The Jets are eighth in the league in rushing with 129.5 yards per game, and Chris Ivory has gone for 237 yards in his last two outings. Baltimore is 11th in the league against the run, allowing 102.7 ground yards per week.

''We know our fans deserve better and we certainly are going to play better," Ryan said. "Obviously, we know we have to play better. That's not hard to figure out."

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Keep the rookie upright.

Smith has been wildly inconsistent all season long, but his cause was hardly aided in Buffalo by an offensive line that was frequently bamboozled by both straight-ahead rushes and myriad blitzes from varying directions. He won't improve here if he's on his back.

Play like a champion, Joe Cool.

Because the Jets have been positively stifling against the run, it'll likely place some additional emphasis on the offensive acumen of Baltimore's Flacco, whose decision-making has been iffy in spots through 10 games. It may not take a lot of points to be decisive in this one.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

When the Jets have been good, they've been pretty good. But when they've been bad, they've been terrible.

And while the season-long streak would indicate it's time for a victory this weekend, the huge loss at Buffalo may have taken more out of them than a chance at postseason comfort.

Sports Network predicted outcome: Ravens 24, Jets 14

11/21 12:14:09 ET

Other Stories

  • HSFB: Football Friday with Tom Suiter

    Tonight at 11:35 on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: NC State at UNC

    Tomorrow at 12:58 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Mississippi State at Ole Miss

    Tomorrow at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego at Baltimore

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CFB: NC State at UNC

    Tomorrow at 12:30 pm on WRAL-FM

Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
 
Final
NCSU 60
BSU 54
 
3rd
PIT 2
CAR 3
 
Final
CHA 101
GSW 106
 
2nd
UF 37
UNC 45
 
2nd
TULSA 14
ECU 14
 
Final
BOS 102
CHI 109
Final
CHA 101
GSW 106
 
3rd
TOR 56
DAL 69
 
4th
DET 74
MIL 85
 
4th
ATL 75
NOP 62
 
3rd
HOU 44
LAC 56
 
3rd
OKC 59
NYK 33
 
3rd
IND 56
ORL 50
 
2nd
SAN 48
SAC 40
 
1st
DEN 16
PHO 12
 
10:00pm Tonight
POR
MEM
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
MIN
Final
WMICH 21
NILL 31
Final
SMU 9
HOU 35
Final
IOWA 34
NEB 37
Final
SFLA 0
UCF 16
Final
MARS 66
WKENT 67
Final
KSU 27
AKR 24
Final
BGU 24
BST 41
Final
UMASS 21
BUF 41
Final
EMICH 16
TOL 52
Final
MIZZ 21
ARK 14
Final
SALABAMA 40
NAVY 42
Final
ARZ 42
ARST 35
Final
AFA 27
COLST 24
Final
UCLA 10
STAN 31
2nd
VT 10
UVA 6
 
2nd
TULSA 14
ECU 14
 
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
 
Final
KU 82
TENN 67
Final
TEXAM 87
NO 65
 
Final
NCAT 57
RAD 65
 
Final
GEOR 58
BUT 64
Final
BRO 81
PVU 71
Final
RIU 66
SCU 44
Final
NARZ 70
SOUTH 63
Final
DART 68
MAST 67
Final
WRST 59
FIU 61
Final
XAV 73
UTEP 77
Final
OSU 73
JMU 56
Final
TXSOU 71
LAM 59
 
Final
TAMCC 75
MVSU 66
 
Final
AKAN 51
MIZST 55
Final
BUCK 80
PSU 88
 
Final
PROV 72
YALE 66
Final
UGA 62
MINN 66
Final
WISC 69
OKLA 56
Final
Terriers 70
NORST 72
 
Final
PEAY 62
STEPH 83
Final
FSU 58
CSOU 47
 
Final
VALPO 66
DRAK 46
Final
CIN 69
MTST 51
Final
SDU 75
PRIN 65
Final
WASU 76
RICE 74
 
Final
CSFU 64
USCU 79
 
Final
GT 61
RIDE 54
 
Final
TXPA 79
ALAST 91
 
Final
NCSU 60
BSU 54
 
Final
TCU 57
BRAD 49
 
Final
WAKE 65
DELST 72
 
Final
HART 83
EMERSON 50
 
Final
STJ 66
GONZ 73
 
Final
CLEM 62
HIGH 59
 
Final
SYR 72
HC 48
 
Final
MD 61
MON 56
 
Final
JVST 74
SAV 71
 
Final
MIAMI 87
SALA 75
 
Final
RUTG 68
VANDY 65
 
2nd
PETE 57
TENST 54
 
2nd
MARS 32
CLST 43
 
2nd
JST 38
HOF 56
 
2nd
INDST 36
MEM 48
 
2nd
UF 37
UNC 45
 
2nd
LATU 44
SAMF 35
 
2nd
TULA 62
SELA 49
 
2nd
NEB 54
TENNM 44
 
Half
MISS 31
CREI 37
 
Half
PORT 30
MURST 29
 
1st
MARQ 11
MSU 15
 
1st
ARK 16
UNT 16
 
1st
NCOL 23
STET 14
 
1st
IND 18
UNCG 9
 
1st
SJST 10
WMICH 18
 
1st
MNTST 20
TXARL 8
 
9:30pm Tonight
UVA
LAS
9:30pm Tonight
STLU
MSST
9:30pm Tonight
COLST
PAC
10:00pm Tonight
UTAH
NDAK
10:30pm Tonight
ILL
BAY
10:30pm Tonight
UAB
UCLA
11:30pm Tonight
WASH
LBSU
11:59pm Tonight
UCSB
MERC
Final
PHI 0
NYR 3
Final
ANA 1
CHI 4
Final
WAS 5
NYI 2
3rd
PIT 2
CAR 3
 
3rd
NJD 4
DET 4
 
3rd
BUF 1
MON 1
 
3rd
CLB 0
VAN 3
 
3rd
BOS 1
WIN 1
 
2nd Intermission
FLA 1
OTT 2
 
2nd
STL 1
EDM 1
 
1st Intermission
DAL 0
MIN 2