BALTIMORE — It feels like the Jets are walking into a slaughterhouse.
Gang Green comes to M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday with an injury-depleted lineup to face the hottest player and team in football — Lamar Jackson and the 11-2 Ravens, who have won nine straight games.
Oh, and the Jets had three days to prepare.
It is hard to see any way the 5-8 Jets can win this one. Start with Jackson, the do-it-all quarterback who has accounted for an NFL-best 35 touchdowns and has 1,017 rushing yards to go along with 2,677 passing yards.
“I feel like it’s going to be a big challenge,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said in an understatement. “Lamar Jackson is athletically one of the best to ever do it at that position. The comparison to him is Mike Vick. It’s hard not to compare the two because of how well they are athletically and how well they can move in space. Even in a phone booth, he makes guys miss.”
The Jets watched Jackson film this week, including the clip of him embarrassing Bills linebacker Matt Milano on Sunday with a juke move that left Milano grasping at air. The key for the Jets may be how long they can keep the ball out of Jackson’s hands, but the Jets offense is going into this game with running back Bilal Powell and tight end Ryan Griffin ruled out, and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is doubtful. Those are three players who have been key contributors lately.
“We can’t be going three-and-out and giving them more opportunities than what they’re already going to get,” coach Adam Gase said. “That’s the hardest thing about calling plays, you feel like every play is valuable, there’s no throwaway plays, there’s no, ‘Hey, let’s try this.’ You need to be on it, you have to make sure you do a good job of moving the football, converting on third down and scoring in the red zone.”
The Ravens have already clinched a playoff spot and can wrap up the AFC North title with a win on Thursday. They are the No. 1 scoring offense (33.1 points per game) and rushing offense (200.9 ypg) and second in total offense (408.2 ypg).
The Jets have won four out of their past five and have played better in the second half of the season. They have the No. 2 rushing defense (78.8 ypg) in football. Still, it is nearly impossible to imagine them finding a way in this one.
For more on the Jets, listen to the latest episode of the “Gang’s All Here” podcast: