Jets vs. Cardinals on Monday Night Football: A prediction and five stats to know
Interception machine Ryan Fitzpatrick and an unstoppable David Johnson spell trouble for the Jets
The Jets' season is going to end Monday night.
They will lose on their trip to Arizona, where they'll face a Cardinals team that also has disappointed. With Carson Palmer back under center, however, the Cardinals will roll against a struggling Jets defense. Playing against interception machine Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Cardinals defense will continue to generate turnovers at an impressive rate.
That's my prediction for Week 6 of Monday Night Football. The Cardinals will improve to 3-3 while the Jets will drop to 1-5.
Let's take a look at five key stats to back up that prediction.
Fitzpatrick leads the league in interceptions with 10. He also leads the league with a 5.2 interception rate. The Jets have given the ball away 13 times -- tied for the league's second-highest turnover total. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are tied for the league lead in takeaways with 12.
Translation: The Cardinals should take the ball away from the Jets a few times. And don't expect the Jets to counter with any takeaways. They've forced only three -- tied for the fewest in the league.
2. Patrick Peterson vs. Brandon Marshall
Get hyped for Marshall vs. Peterson, even if the game itself features two disappointing teams. Get hyped because Marshall is one of the league's best receivers -- he actually managed to do some stuff against Richard Sherman a couple weeks ago -- and Peterson is one of the league's best cornerbacks, who might be better than Sherman (key word: might).
Peterson is Pro Football Focus' seventh-best cornerback this season. He has been targeted in coverage 22 times and has allowed nine receptions, 89 yards and a touchdown. But he has also intercepted two passes and defended another. Quarterbacks have earned a passer rating of 30.3 when targeting him.
According to Pro Football Focus, Peterson leads the NFL with 0.47 yards per coverage snap, which measures "the amount of yards a cornerback allows while in primary coverage relative to how many snaps he is in coverage."
It's not that Marshall can't take on Peterson -- he can. He took it to Sherman for a half.
But eventually, as is often the case, Fitzpatrick happened. He began locking onto Marshall and Sherman responded with two picks. And that's not a rare occurrence.
Of Fitzpatrick's 10 interceptions, four have been thrown in Marshall's direction. So, Peterson might have a chance to snag one or two when Fitzpatrick tries to jam a pass or two in to his favorite receiver.
3. David Johnson can beat the Jets defense
The Jets rank second in the NFL is rushing yards allowed per game (68.4), which is bad news for the Cardinals' emerging running back star, who averages 5 yards per carry. With Carson Palmer struggling, the Cardinals should continue to lean on their best player, Johnson, but that might be hard to do against the Jets' defensive front.
Still, Johnson can beat the Jets -- via the passing game. What makes Johnson arguably the best all-around back in football (outside of Le'Veon Bell) is his ability to contribute as a receiver. So far, he has hauled in the third-most passes on the team (17) for the third-most receiving yards (238). According to STATS (before any Week 6 games were played), "Johnson has a league-best 695 scrimmage yards in 2016, recording at least 100 yards of offense in each of the Cardinals' first five games."
Look for the Cardinals to take advantage of the Jets' passing defense, which is the second-worst unit in the league in terms of yards allowed. According to Pro Football Focus, the Jets don't defend passes to running backs very well. They've allowed 24 completion on 29 attempted non-screen running back passes. Those 24 completions have resulted in 176 yards, three touchdowns and a 126.4 passer rating for opposing quarterbacks.
Johnson might feast.
4. Big plays favor Cardinals
Arizona's offense is built on big plays. On passes thrown 10-19 yards downfield, Palmer has gone 31 of 60 for 421 yards, three touchdowns and one interceptions. Except, unlike a year ago, Palmer is struggling on the home-run ball, going 8 of 23 for 228 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions on balls thrown 20-plus yards downfield. Last season, Palmer went 34 of 96 for 1,106 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine picks on those passes. All of those statistics are according to Pro Football Focus.
So, a year ago, Palmer averaged 11.5 yards per attempt and posted a 10.4 touchdown rate and an 8.1 interception rate on those plays. This year he's averaging 9.9 yards and posting a 4.3 touchdown rate and a 17.4 interception rate on those plays.
But the Cardinals' big-play approach has a chance to finally get going, considering the Jets can't stop big plays.
Jets defense has allowed five TDs of 40+ yards in 18 quarters this season. (8 total completions of 40+ yards)— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) October 9, 2016
The Jets' disappointing start isn't just on Fitzpatrick. It's also on their defense.
5. Eric Decker's absence
The Jets have been awful in the red zone. They're scoring a touchdown on 40 percent of their red zone trips, tied for the third-worst rate in the NFL.
Things won't improve without Decker, who recently landed on injured reserve. Last season, he caught 10 touchdowns in the red zone.
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