Jets are imploding in front of our eyes

Brett FavreThree weeks ago the New York Jets were the talk of the NFL after they beat the previously unbeaten Tennessee Titans. But they were crushed at home by the Denver Broncos last week and on Sunday were rather surprisingly beaten by the San Francisco 49ers 24-14.

What the hell happened?

The 49ers have been a much more competitive team since Mike Singletary took over as head coach, but how do the Jets total just 182 yards of offense against San Fran’s defense? Brett Favre threw for just 137 yards and as a team, the Jets rushed for only 59 yards.

It’s hard to travel cross-country and win. But that said, if the Jets want to win a division, they have to be able to beat a poor 49er team starting Shaun Hill at quarterback. It’s not like the Jets turned the ball over multiple times (Favre threw one interception) and beat themselves (although eight penalties certainly doesn’t help) – the 49ers just flat out took it to them. San Fran had a 39:49 to 20:11 time of possession edge and totaled 375 yards of offense.

With this loss, the Jets have now opened the door for the Patriots and Dolphins in the division. All three teams are now locked in a three-way tie at 8-5.

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NFL Week 13 Primer

Jason CampbellSunday’s Best: Giants (10-1) at Redskins (7-4), 1:00 PM ET FOX
The game of the week is a toss up between this matchup and Steelers at Patriots. But I’ll go with a divisional rivalry any day of the week, although Pittsburgh-New England should be just as good. The Cowboys’ victory over the Seahawks on Thanksgiving put a lot of pressure on the Skins to keep pace in the NFC Wild Card race. A win over the G-Men would keep Washington in the thick of things with Dallas, Carolina, Tampa and Atlanta for the Wild Card, while a loss wouldn’t push them out of things, but it certainly would be detrimental. One thing about the Redskins is that they play to the level of their competition. One week they’re losing to the Rams and allowing the Browns to hang with them, the next they’re crushing the Cowboys and Eagles on the road. But the Giants have been one of the best road teams over the last couple years and soundly beat the first place Cardinals last week in Arizona. The G-Men have proven that they’re the best team in the league, but they’re going to have their hands full against a physical Washington team in desperate need of a victory.

Upset Watch: Panthers (8-3) at Packers (5-6), 1:00 PM ET FOX
My pick of the Lions over the Buccaneers last week proved to be a disaster despite Detroit jumping out to a 17-0 lead. Considering the Packers are 3-point favorites, this technically doesn’t count as an upset and less you factor in the records. The Pack were embarrassed last Monday night by New Orleans, but the Panthers haven’t played well in weeks. Jake Delhomme has struggled in the first half of Carolina’s past three games and the once stout Panther defense is coming off a game in which they surrendered 45 points to the Falcons. This is a nice matchup for a struggling Green Bay defense, but they must stop the run. Carolina loves to pound the ball on the ground and if they’re successful, the play action pass opens up with Delhomme and Steve Smith. But if the Packers can sell out to stop the run, their secondary is good enough to at least contain Smith and limit him from making big plays. Aaron Rodgers should have relative success working the ball up the field against an average Carolina secondary, although Ryan Grant must keep them balanced offensively for Green Bay to notch a win and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Matt CasselIntriguing Matchup: Steelers (8-3) at Patriots (7-4), 4:15 PM ET CBS
Could this be a potential playoff preview? Matt Cassel has the Patriots’ offense back on track, but they’ll be tested Sunday against one of the best defenses in the league. It’s doubtful Cassel will be able to throw for over 400 yards for the third connective game, which means Bill Belichick must get his running game going or else Dick Lambeau can dial up plenty of blitzes to get the young signal caller out of rhythm. A win is so important for both teams. A victory for Pittsburgh would keep the Steelers at least one-game above Baltimore in the division, while the Pats need a win to keep pace with the Jets in the AFC East. This should be one of the most physical matchups of the week and I’m willing to bet it will be a low scoring affair.

Other Notable Games:
Broncos (6-5) at Jets (8-3), 4:15 PM ET CBS
The Jets are now the talk of the league after they upset the Titans last week, while Denver looks to put its embarrassing loss to the Raiders behind them.

Bears (6-5) at Vikings (6-5), 8:15 PM ET
First place in the NFC North is on the line Sunday night. Since they beat the Vikes earlier this season, Chicago would capture the tiebreaker between these two teams if they can come away with a victory.

Saints (6-5) at Buccaneers (8-3), 1:00 PM ET
A win for New Orleans and we can officially welcome them back to the NFC playoff party. But a loss would essentially put the Saints out of their misery.

Matt Cassel has Patriots’ offense rolling

Matt CasselFor the second week in a row, Patriots’ quarterback Matt Cassel threw for over 400 yards, only this time his effort wasn’t wasted as he led New England to a 48-28 victory over AFC East foe Miami.

It’s safe to say that New England has its offense back on track and Cassel is obviously a huge reason for that. It appears that Bill Belichick has taken the training wheels off of his quarterback, who has definitely earned the right to attempt more downfield passes.

The emergence of Cassel has made the Pats a dangerous team again, although their defense has been suspect the past two weeks against the Jets and Dolphins. Nothing against Chad Pennington because he’s been great this year for the Dolphins, but there’s no way a playoff caliber defense allows him to throw for 341 passes and three touchdowns. Although hey, at least Belichick figured out a way to defend the “Wildcat” formation after Ronnie Brown tore the Pats’ defense a new one in these team’s first meeting.

Has it just been two bad weeks for the Pats’ defense or have the Jets and Dolphins exposed a weakness?

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