The Jets travel to Jacksonville for the first of three road games in the final four weeks of the regular season.
Despite playing the toughest schedule in the NFL to this point, the Jets (5-7) are still in the playoff mix with the easiest remaining schedule.
Jets Strength of Schedule | 2012 Season
Since the beginning of last season, the Jets are 10-1 when they rush 30 times a game. The ground attack could ease the pressure on Sanchez against a Jaguars defense that ranks 31st against the run. The Jets should also have the advantage on defense against a team that desperately misses Maurice Jones-Drew and ranks 32nd in rush yards per game.
Here are three keys to Sunday's matchup in Jacksonville:
1. In order to help a struggling quarterback, Ryan needs to restore the ground-and-pound attack. The Jets lead the AFC with seven rushing touchdowns between the center and either guard.
No team in the NFL has more rush attempts up the middle when using a second skill player in the backfield as a lead blocker. The Jets have used such a play on 29.8 percent of all rushes this season, the highest mark in the AFC.
Jacksonville meanwhile, has conceded 12 rushing touchdowns between the center and either guard, the most in the NFL.
Most Rush TD Allowed Up the Middle | 2012
2. Without injured quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the Jaguars have called on veteran Chad Henne. He has stretched the field with an average pass length of 9.3 yards, which ranks fifth among NFL passers with 100 attempts.
Since Henne took over Week 11, rookie wideout Justin Blackmon has benefited with the second-most targets in the AFC on throws that traveled 11 air yards or more. Blackmon leads the NFL in yards after contact and yards after the catch on throws that distance over that span.
The Jets are set up well to defend against the deep ball as they rank third in the NFL in lowest completion percentage allowed on such throws.
3. Ryan should get an opportunity to dial up aggressive pass pressure against the Jags, who rank last in the AFC in fewest dropbacks per sack (12.7 dropbacks/sack) allowed.
When the Jets send five or more pass rushers at the quarterback, opponents have managed an average Total QBR of 22.8, which ranks Gang Green fourth among NFL defenses and second-best in the AFC.
Last week against Ryan Lindley and the Cardinals, the Jets blitzed with added pressure on 48.5 percent of dropbacks which was the most of any AFC defense.