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Saturday, October 16, 2010
Jets at Broncos: Keys to the game

By Rich Cimini

Before joining the New York Jets in Denver -- the team arrived Friday night --I'll review some of the keys to Sunday's game in the Mile High City:

Improve red-zone efficiency: The Jets should be able to move the ball with relative ease between the 20s against a banged-up Denver defense, but their work inside the 20 has to get better. They were 0-for-4 last week in the red zone, dropping them to 19th in the league. Mark Sanchez is only a 50% passer in the red zone. Field goals are great for Nick Folk's stat line, but the Jets need more touchdowns, less field goals.

Tackle in the secondary: The Broncos' modern-day version of the Three Amigos -- Brandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal and Jabar Gaffney -- produces a lot of yards after the catch. In fact, Royal is second in the league in YAC. The Jets DBs must wrap up quickly and effectively, preventing 10-yard completions from turning into 20-yarders.

Who's in the slot? Royal will be a tough cover in the slot. You have to figure the Jets will use Drew Coleman or rookie Kyle Wilson in the slot. That's not a good matchup for the Jets, especially if the struggling Wilson gets the call. If Darrelle Revis (hamstring) doesn't play -- the team expects to make a decision Sunday -- Wilson and Coleman might be on the field at the same time, with Antonio Cromartie. Could be a rough day for the secondary against the pass-happy Broncos, who averaged close to 50 pass attempts over the last three games.

Ball security: The Jets have fumbled only once (Shonn Greene in the opener), while the Broncos have fumbled seven times (lost three), none of which are from QB Kyle Orton. In other words, their backs and receivers don't do a real good job securing the football. The Jets will be in a ball-stripping mode. In fact, they practiced causing and recovering fumbles in practice.

Playing the tendencies: The Broncos have remarkable balance in their passing game. Their top three receivers have 31, 30 and 29 receptions. Who gets the double team? Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will have to rely on the Broncos' past tendencies, trying to figure out who they go to in certain situations. It can be frustrating for a play caller, especially with a smart quarterback like Orton, who does a good job with ball distribution.

Don't challenge the Champ: Broncos CB Champ Bailey still is one of the best in the business. If Sanchez is smart, he'll stay away from Bailey's direction. Throw it anywhere else, against a secondary that doesn't have S Brian Dawkins, and he should be OK.