Cowboys NT Jay Ratliff vs. Jets C Nick Mangold
This is a battle that’s made the lists of both ESPN’s Byran Boaddus and Ben Stockwell of ProFootballFocus, and for good reason. Nick Mangold, a Pro-Bowler, will be one of the keys in protecting Sanchez, which will be essential to establishing the Jets’ passing game. According to Stockwell:
The advantage is certainly with Mangold in the run game but if the Cowboys can establish a lead then Ratliff becomes a real threat with his ability to get into the backfield. If Mark Sanchez is forced to throw and Ratliff can get pressure straight up the middle life will become very difficult for the Jets. Sanchez’ passing under pressure was poor last season, his NFL QB rating dropped from 86.5 to 51.9 when he felt pressure.Cowboys WRs Miles Austin and Dez Bryant vs. Jets CBs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie
Relying on a young offensive line, the Cowboys will need their passing game to be in nearly perfect rhythm if they want to score the points they’ll need to top the Jets. If Revis and Cromarite play to their strengths, they’ll cause a huge disruption in Tony Romo’s aerial assault. Again, Stockwell:
The match up of, arguably, the best cover corner in the league and one of the better corners at tracking deep routes is a tough one for week one but this offers a perfect opportunity for the Cowboys receivers to make a statement that they are ready to take their place at the top table of the NFL.However, in some comments he made yesterday, the young Bryant was unafraid, full of pre-game bluster:
“I’m not going to change up my game for no corner,” Bryant said.If he wants to succeed, he’ll have to back up that talk on the field.
Bryant insists he hardly even pays attention to them on the field, either, barely registering who is covering him when he lines up.
The way Bryant sees it, as long as he does what he’s supposed to, nobody can stop him, including the Jets’ talented tandem that he’ll face Sunday night.
“I’m not the type of guy to single anybody out,” he said. “No DB, no nothing like that.”
Jets WR Santonio Holmes vs. Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick
Undeniably, Santonio Holmes is an enormous part of the Jets’ offense, especially when they need to stretch drives on 3rd down. Holmes’ versatility as a receiver and his ability to catch nearly anything thrown in his direction allows him to pick up screens, short hooks, and long bombs when his team needs them the most. For the Jets to make an impact, Holmes will have to be faster than Scandrick and able to out-think the corner. According to Boaddus:
Scandrick has the quickness to match Holmes and will study him to gauge what depth he runs his routes and any route adjustments he will make. You have heard me talk about how difficult it is to play as a slot corner because when you are inside, you have to defend the whole field. You can’t use the sideline to your advantage. With Holmes, Schottenheimer likes to move him all over the formation to make it difficult for the defense to make adjustments to him.Jets OTs D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Wayne Hunter vs. Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware
If Holmes does have a weakness, he will body catch balls at times in traffic against his body. If Scandrick can maintain tight coverage in the route, he has a chance to contest some balls that go Holmes’ way.
This is another matchup that made both of these bloggers' lists. Able to attack from either side, Ware will be a huge factor in putting pressure on Sanchez, and it’ll be up to Hunter and Ferguson to hold him back. I’ll be watching Hunter closely during offensive snaps, because he isn’t as tough to get by as Brick. On the other hand, Boaddus points out a potential weakness for Ferguson:
His main problem is that when he faces a rusher that goes from speed to power, he has a real problem adjusting to that. I have seen Ferguson get walked back to Sanchez but also seen him give up pressure and sacks on hard spin moves inside against Cincinnati.It’ll be interesting to see if Ware will be able to use his athleticism to get past the tackles.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan vs. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan
How could I resist? To my mind, there’s no better way for the Jets to start the season: with Rex playing an incredibly emotional game on September 11 against one of the few defensive minds that matches his own: his brother’s. The last time this family matched up, Rob Ryan was with the Browns, and the Jets won 26-20 on a nail-biting 37-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez to Holmes with 16 seconds left in overtime. If tomorrow’s game is anywhere as close (hoping the Jets pull it out), it’ll be a very exciting one to watch.