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NFL Preview - New Orleans (6-1) at N.Y. Jets (4-4)



By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor

(SportsNetwork.com) - This time last fall, it was the NFL's Blowhard Bowl.

After eight weeks in 2012, coach Rex Ryan's New York Jets were two games under .500, coming off an ugly 21-point loss to a division rival and en route to the first losing season in the four microphone-friendly years of the Buddy Ryan progeny's reign.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's Cowboys had also lost more than they'd won, were licking wounds from a home loss to the New York Giants and had allowed 27 or more points in four of the seven games they'd played.

Not exactly the scenario of choice for the league's two most-outspoken twin brothers.

But this year, the actions are closer to backing up the talk.

Rex's Jets have been a pleasant, albeit maddeningly inconsistent, surprise, winning four of their first eight games on a 2013 schedule many assumed wouldn't yield that many Ws as a whole.

And though he was jettisoned from Dallas after one disappointing year, Rob has managed to land on his feet and has spent his return year making a long-porous team downright stingy.

His New Orleans Saints enter the Week 9 road test at Met Life Stadium as the fourth-best scoring defense in the league, a season after they were 31st in the same category; and the 12th-best in yardage allowed, a year after they were dead last in the NFL.

It's a drastic departure from recent tradition in the Big Easy, where even the 2009 Super Bowl championship team was only 25th best in total defense.

Linebacker Curtis Lofton, who leads New Orleans in tackles with 55, said it's no mystery why the same players are producing significantly different results.

"People think that those players that were playing in that scheme were terrible," he said. "So you get a new defensive coordinator that comes in and plays to the strengths of players in this locker room, and guys are playing out there confident, playing fast, like it's a whole different team."

Undaunted by the Cowboys disaster, Ryan came to town and championed a 3-4 defensive alignment whose focus was getting to the quarterback and creating havoc. It's paid off handsomely through seven games - in which the Saints have lost just once - with the team ranked fourth in the league in turnover margin (plus-8) and tops in the NFC in sacks (3.4 per game).

"It's a highly motivated group," Ryan said.

This week, it's a trouble making coach's dream: a rookie QB who's thrown 13 interceptions in eight NFL starts. But that rookie, New York's Geno Smith, insists his confidence has taken no hits in spite of the early-stage ups and downs.

"I'm the type of guy that's always going to put it behind me because you can't get it back," Smith said. "It's come and gone. As bad as I want to take some of those throws back, to have some of those plays back, you can't get them back."

Smith, who's been sacked 28 times, has seven touchdowns and four interceptions in the Jets' four wins while posting a 93.7 passer rating. In the four losses, he's thrown one TD, seven interceptions and compiled an ugly 51.7 rating.

New York has alternated wins and losses through eight weeks and comes into the Saints contest off the ugliest loss of the season - a 49-9 debacle in which Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton threw five touchdown passes and the defense was gashed for 402 total yards.

The Bengals also returned two Smith TDs for touchdowns. In fact, things were so comprehensively bad that the Jets skipped their routine Monday film review session and went straight to game prep for New Orleans.

Against the Saints, they'll face another productive passer in Drew Brees, who's second in the NFC in yardage (2,290) and leads the conference in both passer rating (109.2) and TD passes (19).

He hit rookie Kenny Stills three times last week - in a 35-17 defeat of Buffalo - for 129 yards and two scores, including a 69-yarder.

"I thought it would be more beneficial just to move on to New Orleans, get a start on them," Ryan said, "and that's exactly what we did."

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Airing it Out.

It's hardly a news flash to say Brees is a prolific passer, but he's particularly devastating when throwing the ball down the field -- completing 39.5 percent of attempts beyond 20 yards for eight touchdowns and just one interception. Against a Jets defense that's struggled to contain teams with more than one receiving threat, he could flourish in a big way.

Exacting Revenge.

Jets running back Chris Ivory was a weapon, but not a frequently used one, while playing 24 games in three seasons with New Orleans. Ivory galloped for more than 100 yards while carrying the ball 34 times against New England two weeks ago, and would figure to want to get a heavy workload against a Saints team that's 20th-best in the league against the run.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

For Jets fans frustrated by the team's comprehensive inconsistency, this could be the week you've (sort of) been waiting for.

Rather than continuing the flip-flop that's been evident since the opener in September, the poor matchups here seem destined to make it two straight flops for Gang Green, thanks mainly to Brees and his full complement of targets.

Sports Network predicted outcome: Saints 31, Jets 18

10/31 13:02:41 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
 
4th
CHA 101
GSW 104
 
2nd
UF 33
UNC 43
 
1st
TULSA 14
ECU 14
 
Final
BOS 102
CHI 109
4th
CHA 101
GSW 104
 
3rd
TOR 52
DAL 64
 
4th
DET 69
MIL 79
 
4th
ATL 72
NOP 58
 
Half
HOU 44
LAC 56
 
Half
OKC 59
NYK 33
 
Half
IND 47
ORL 45
 
2nd
SAN 41
SAC 36
 
1st
DEN 15
PHO 7
 
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
 
1st
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 55
TENST 54
 
2nd
MARS 32
CLST 43
 
2nd
JST 38
HOF 49
 
2nd
INDST 34
MEM 48
 
2nd
UF 33
UNC 43
 
2nd
LATU 39
SAMF 35
 
2nd
TULA 58
SELA 49
 
2nd
NEB 54
TENNM 44
 
Half
MISS 31
CREI 37
 
Half
PORT 30
MURST 29
 
1st
MARQ 9
MSU 8
 
1st
ARK 14
UNT 11
 
1st
NCOL 17
STET 11
 
1st
IND 11
UNCG 9
 
1st
SJST 5
WMICH 15
 
1st
MNTST 11
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 3
 
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