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First Look: Jets vs. Ravens

1. Harbaugh vs. Ryan- After the Ravens fired former Head Coach Brian Billick in 2007, many thought defensive coordinator Rex Ryan would take the job, as he was a locker room favorite. Owner Steve Bisciotti shocked a lot of people when he hired Eagles special teams coordinator John Harbaugh. Ryan would go on to work under Harbaugh for one year before leaving for New York. It is safe to say that Bisciotti made the right choice, as Harbaugh has won a Super Bowl, while Ryan hasn’t made it to the big game and he is always creating a media circus in New York off of what he says. Regardless, this game is personal for Ryan as he tries to prove to Bisciotti that he was wrong to pass him over. For Harbaugh, it is a way to validate that he was the right choice. There will be plenty of emotions from both sidelines as they try to help their head coach get the win. Harbaugh holds a 2-0 advantage in the matchup, but the way the Ravens have been playing these days, it could move to 2-1.

2. Big playoff implications- The Ravens (4-6) and the Jets (5-5) are both in contention for the last playoff spot in the AFC and this game will have a huge impact on both teams positioning. Not only will one team be able to hurt the other’s record directly, but also have the tiebreaker advantage over the other. Expect this game to have a playoff type feel to it. The Ravens know this is their last stand.

3. Rookie quarterback- The Ravens defense has made average quarterbacks look good in two of the last three weeks, and rookie E.J. Manuel had a solid game against the team earlier in the year. Jets quarterback Geno Smith has struggled recently, and the Ravens have a history of making rookie quarterbacks look bad. The team will also be home, where the defense has thrived this year, and if they can play the way they did against the Bengals, it will be a long day for Smith in Baltimore. The secondary has been playing well the past few weeks, but the pass rush has been inconsistent. If the pass rush is there on Sunday, then it’s hard to imagine them losing.

4. Run game encore?- Last week the run game broke out in Chicago, but was it a fluke? Could it have been related to the bad weather or a bad Bears run defense? We will find out Sunday when the Ravens take on a very good run defense. The Jets have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL featuring ends Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, so the offensive line will have to be physical with them if they want to open up holes for Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. Rice had his coming out party last week and it will be interesting to see how he plays in better conditions. It won’t be an easy task running against the Jets, but if they want to win they will need some sort of run game.

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