Jets, Bills and Raiders stumbling into NFL season

Rex Ryan is frustrated, and you can hardly blame him. He watched rookie Geno Smith toss three interceptions in the last preseason game, and then he watched Mark Sanchez hurt his shoulder in preseason garbage time.

The Buffalo Bills have their own issues, with Kevin Kolb suffering another concussion that could keep him out for the season or possibly threaten his career. Meanwhile top draft pick EJ Manuel may not be ready for the opener against the Patriots as he heels from a knee injury. If he can’t play, then the Bills will have to start Washington State undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel.

The Raiders look like a complete mess, and they’re so desperate that they’re considering having Terrelle Pryor start week one. Pryor hasn’t looked terrible but he still a very raw passer. Matt Flynn has a sore elbow, which doesn’t help a guy who has had another mediocre preseason.

The NFL is very hard to predict, and often you’ll see teams suddenly turn things on in week one. But you have to be skeptical with these three teams, and when we look at the odds for week one, you have to consider picking their opponents, even considering the larger spreads.

Buffalo is currently a ten-point underdog at home against the Patriots. Considering the problems at the quarterback position and that cornerback Stephon Gilmore has been lost with a broken left wrist, things look pretty bad for the Bills. The question is whether you want to lay ten points with the Bills playing at home.

The Raiders are on the road against Andrew Luck and the Colts as a 9-point underdog, and this one seems like a gift. I suspect the line might move even more in Indy’s favor, as Andrew Luck looks like he’s getting even better as he enters his second year. I love the Colts here.

The Jets are a home underdog as Tampa Bay is giving them three points. I would wait to see what happens at quarterback here. If Sanchez is healthy I would avoid it, but if Geno Smith has to start, then Tampa might be an interesting bet.

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Mark Sanchez has PCL sprain

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez has a sprained PCL in his right knee, but may play through the injury as long as he can tolerate the pain.

Ironically, Sanchez had spent time learning how to slide with Joe Girardi, but hurt himself when he dove head first after scrambling. After the game, Sanchez even apologized to Girardi:

“I’m sorry to Coach Girardi,” Sanchez said. “He spent all that time trying to help me. And I know Rex wants me to slide and everybody wants me to slide, but in the heat of the moment I was trying to get the first down. That’s just the way I play.”

Outside of his hot start, Sanchez has suffered plenty of growing pains through his first year. But with the way backup Kellen Clemens looked Thursday night in New York’s 19-13 win over the Bills, Sanchez remains the team’s best option to win. Clemens completed just 1-of-2 pass attempts for 14 yards and looked like player that had no business being under center. He showed zero pocket awareness and it’s a good thing the Jets were leading when he entered the game so they wouldn’t have to rely on Clemens throwing vertically.

After playing on Thursday night, the Jets will have a few extra days off to rest before their Week 14 game against the Bucs. The extra time should help Sanchez heal, but team will have to evaluate his injury next week during practice.

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No wonder Rex Ryan didn’t want to bench Mark Sanchez

For those wondering why Rex Ryan hasn’t benched struggling rookie Mark Sanchez yet, I hope you were one of the four people that caught the Jets’ 19-13 win over the Bills on Thursday night on the NFL Network.

After Sanchez suffered a knee injury midway through the second half, Kellen Clemens entered the game and completed just 1-of-2 passes for 14 yards. The Jets showed little trust in him to put the ball in the air and I don’t blame them given Clemens’ lack of awareness in the pocket. It’s understandable that he would be a little rusty considering he hasn’t seen much game action this season, but that’s no excuse for him to look completely inept.

Nevertheless, the Jets hung on for the victory and kept their slim playoff hopes alive for another week. They rushed for a staggering 249 yards (Thomas Jones had 109 of those yards) and Braylon Edwards caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez right before half to put New York ahead for good. (Of course, he also had a potential touchdown bounce off his face early in the second quarter, so he gave his usual inconsistent effort.)

It doesn’t appear that Sanchez’s injury is serious and it helps that the Jets now have extra days off before they take on the Buccaneers in Week 14. Hopefully for New York’s sake, Sanchez will be healthy enough to play because Clemens is brutal.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Order restored: Jets crush Raiders

A week ago the Raiders beat the Eagles and I swear fire and brimstone started falling from the sky. Rivers and seas boiled. Forty years of darkness was upon us. Dogs and cats started living together. Mass hysteria. Earthquakes, volcanoes…

All right, enough Ghostbusters, although disagree with the greatness of that movie and I’ll punch you in your shin. Order was restored today in the NFL as the Jets hammered the Raiders 38-0 in Oakland. Rookie running back Shonn Greene exploded for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, as Leon Washington suffered what could be a serious leg injury. If Washington misses significant time, the third-round pick out of Iowa will see more opportunities, which he certainly deserves after his performance today.

Mark Sanchez rebounded from his five-interception performance last week, as he completed nine of 15 pass attempts for 143 yards and a touchdown. Granted, Sanchez didn’t have to do much because the Jets’ built a 24-0 halftime lead thanks to their running game and multiple turnovers by the Raiders. But at least New York was able to shift the focus off its rookie QB for one week.

Speaking of those hapless, heartless Raiders, JaMarcus Russell looked putrid once again. He was pulled in the second quarter in favor of Bruce Gradkowski after he set the Jets up with their first score by fumbling close to his end zone on Oakland’s first possession. Russell also threw two interceptions and as expected, Gradkowski didn’t fair much better as he threw for only 97 yards and also lost a fumble.

So much for Oakland building off last week’s win over Philadelphia.

It’s official: Mark Sanchez is a rookie.

Mark Sanchez learned a valuable lesson on Sunday: In the NFL, things can always go from bad to worse.

Three weeks ago, Sanchez threw thee interceptions and fumbled once in a 24-10 loss to the Saints. One of those interceptions was returned 99 yards for a touchdown by Darren Sharper and the fumble produced a TD for New Orleans as well. It was the first time that the Jets’ quarterback looked like the rookie he is.

Yesterday, Sanchez completed just 10 of 29 passes for 119 yards and finished with a career-high five interceptions in a 16-13 overtime loss to the Bills. He missed open receivers, he often threw into double coverage and at times, looked absolutely hopeless.

But guess what? That’s going to happen with a rookie quarterback. When Sanchez led the Jets to a 3-0 start and beat the Patriots in Foxboro, everyone was ready to anoint him the next Joe Namath before he even had four games under his belt. But now that he’s playing like the love child of J.P. Losman and Joey Harrington, nobody should be ready to throw in the towel – especially the Jets.

At least for the time being, Rex Ryan has to stick with Sanchez and ride him through the good and the bad this season. Sanchez was bound to struggle and now that he is, the first thing Ryan needs to do is make it known that the rookie is still his quarterback. Sanchez’s confidence is shaken right now and the last thing he needs is Kellen Clemens breathing down his neck.

The Jets are going to find out what kind of quarterback they have over the next couple weeks. They play the Raiders next Sunday and host the Dolphins before their bye in Week 8. If Sanchez can lead the Jets to two victories, then he can build some confidence going into the off week and into the second half of the season. If he fails, then Ryan can reassess the situation in the bye and go from there.

It’ll be interesting to see how Sanchez responds to Sunday’s performance. Ryan Leaf tanked after two strong performances his rookie year, while Peyton Manning threw 28 interceptions but rebounded to be one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

Which way will Sanchez go?

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