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Falcons at Jets – The Playbook: 3 keys for Gang Green


WHEN: 1 p.m.

TV: CH. 5

LINE: Falcons by 3

After a three-game winning streak that shocked the league, the Jets have dropped down to Earth with back-to-back crushing losses, both against divisional opponents. This week, they host a Falcons team that is on a worse run, having dropped three straight. Here are three keys to victory for the Jets.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan

Cut down on penalties

Limiting penalties was a major talking point this week for Todd Bowles & Co., after committing a ghastly 12 penalties for 124 yards last week at the Dolphins. Five of those penalties came in a disastrous fourth quarter, and the Jets were actually called for 14 penalties total (two were declined). Bowles instituted some new strategies in practice this week. Leonard Williams said Bowles had penalized players run gassers — sprints from one sideline to the other. We’ll see if the extra focus translates to the game. At 546 yards, the Jets lead the league in penalty yards.

Start fast and finish strong

The Jets had no problem with the first part of this key in the past two games. They jumped out to a 14-point lead against the Patriots in Week 6. And last weekend against the Dolphins, they scored 21 first-half points. Then in both games, the team fell apart in the second half. In the New England game, the Jets didn’t score another point until 3:34 remained in regulation. (One could argue this was the officials’ fault, but we digress.) In the Miami game, the Jets’ offense mustered minus-4 yards in the fourth quarter, while the defense allowed 17 points in the final 12 minutes.

Do not overlook the Falcons offense

Kyle Shanahan, the mastermind behind the Falcons offense that helped carry the team to a Super Bowl appearance last year, is gone to San Francisco. His replacement is Steve Sarkisian, and the former USC and Washington coach has come under fire in recent weeks for failing to replicate that same production with virtually the same players. Atlanta hasn’t scored more than 23 points in any of its three straight losses. But this unit still has considerable talent, starting with Matt Ryan at QB and Julio Jones at WR. And despite being in the bottom half of the league in scoring offense, this could be their breakout scoring game. 

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