3 Keys for Jets in “must-win” showdown against Lions

New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios reaches for the ball under pressure from Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson.
New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios reaches for the ball under pressure from Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson.
AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes

The New York Jets have lost two games in a row but that hasn’t limited their confidence. Two losses to two teams with 10+ wins have shown the Jets still how far they have to go to be one of the league’s top units. 

The news isn’t all bad for the Jets. While they will need a bit of help in the race for the final spot in the AFC playoffs, they have one of the easier schedules to end the season than those that they look up against in the standings. 

Just don’t tell that to the Detroit Lions. 

Sunday afternoon will pit a desperate Lions squad with a desperate Jets team that are both looking to make their mark in the playoffs with second-year coaches. Detroit has won five of their last six contests and trails the final NFC playoff seed by just two games. 

In short, both teams desperately need a win in Week 15. 

Here are three keys the Jets need to keep an eye out for as they try to tame a dangerous Lions squad. 

Pressure on Goff

It seems shocking considering he was traded for a quarterback who won a Super Bowl in his first year, but Jared Goff has been one of the best quarterbacks in football this season. His completion percentage, yards, and stats in the pocket are all among the league’s best. 

As one of the last true pocket passers in this league, Goff is a hot commodity with two years of team control still under his wing. There is one main weakness though of players like him: pressure. 

Pocket passers aren’t able to handle pressure as well as scrambling quarterbacks do. If the Jets can pressure Goff consistently on Sunday, there’s a good chance they can get him to make key mistakes and turn the ball over. 

Pressure on the quarterback is usually a key for every team, but for the Jets, it is incredibly important on Sunday. 

Red Zone Efficiency

The Jets can have a game plan for Jared Goff and this loaded Lions offense. That doesn’t mean the offense won’t get their chances. Therefore, New York must improve its red-zone efficiency and score touchdowns instead of field goals. 

New York has gone just 2-8 in their last two games in the red zone. That means they kicked field goals instead of touchdowns. It was a key point in both losses to the Vikings and Bills. 

If the Jets can score in the hot zones, then they will put even more pressure on Goff and the Lions to match. That leads right into the hands of their opportunistic defense. 

Keep it simple

Too many young coaches in the NFL try and throw massive gambles left and right to get an edge in football games. It’s a weakness many young coaches have as they try to make a name for themselves and ultimately cost their team wins. 

Dan Campbell and Robert Saleh are clearly very good football coaches and the job they’ve done for their team’s respective turnarounds. In reality, both teams seem very evenly matched. The Jets’ defense is as good as the Lions’ offense is, while the Jets’ defense can come up big in big moments like Detroit’s defense has done. 

The game therefore will come down to the coaches. Which second-year coach tries to do too much and makes THE mistake that changes the game’s momentum? Whichever one does might ultimately cost his team a playoff berth. 

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