Around the NFL  

 

Seven things to watch for on Monday night

Print

Last week's devastating snowstorm in Western New York has given birth to a unique Monday night slate this week. The Bills and Jets will kick off in Detroit at 7 p.m. ET, about an hour before the Ravens and Saints face off in New Orleans.

Here's a quick look at what to watch for in both games:

Jets-Bills


1. The crowd figures to be unpredictable considering tickets were given away for free in Detroit. Michael Vick's performance is an even bigger wild card. He's played fine in his two starts, but let's slow down on the whole "What if Vick started in Week 1?" narrative.

Vick has been asked to do very little in both of his starts. In New York's win over Pittsburgh, the defense and running game carried the team. In the loss to Kansas City, Vick just avoided mistakes. He can still escape pressure well but doesn't have the best instincts of when to run. He can also still throw the occasional pretty deep pass. Anyone thinking that he can carry a team is likely to be disappointed. Vick's ability to react against pressure will be tested because ...

2. Buffalo's power and speed on the defensive line should show up on turf. They sacked Matthew Stafford six times when they visited Detroit in Week 6. New York's offensive line has been inconsistent at best this season. Jerry Hughes, Marcel Dareus, Mario Williams and Kyle Williams have taken turns with star performances all season.

3. The Jets want to turn this into a defensive battle. They are coming off their best defensive game of the season and face a quarterback in Kyle Orton that is coming off his worst two performances of the year in back-to-back games. The Bills are struggling to capitalize on red zone chances because Orton has missed too many open receivers.

Ravens-Saints


1. We haven't seen Baltimore since their ho-hum dispatch of the Titans in Week 10. While the Ravens' running game has been steady all season, Joe Flacco and the passing attack have been nearly impossible to predict. Flacco has run hot and cold as much as any quarterback in the league. Steve Smith has made few plays after a torrid start. There are big gains to be made against the New Orleans defense, especially in the running game.

2. Rob Ryan's defensive unit is not disciplined and that could kill them against the Ravens' zone-running attack. The Saints have been caught trying to make the big play in their last two home losses, often over-pursuing runners. They always seem to be blitzing to the wrong side. Their weak safety position looks even worse after losing Rafael Bush for the season.

Saints linebackers David Hawthorne and Parys Haralson are problems. The Saints have too many weak spots without many standouts to make up for it. Their pass rush is average. Even trusty linebacker Curtis Lofton often makes mistakes by over-pursuing.

3. Even during the games in which Drew Brees plays well, the Saints' offense is working harder to score points. The explosive plays are missing, and they are relying on long, clock-killing drives. That's not Saints football, especially at home.

4. Watch out for Baltimore's inside tandem of Haloti Ngata and Brandon Williams. Ngata is having one of his best seasons, and Williams is one of the best at what he does. The Saints' interior line, especially Jonathan Goodwin, struggled with a similarly beefy duo last week: Geno Atkins and Domato Peko of Cincinnati.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Sunday game from Week 12 and discusses Ryan Tannehill's progression. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

Print