Jets aim for return to .500 vs. Lions

An optimist would say the Jets (1-2) had an opportunity to win every game this season late in the fourth …

An optimist would say the Jets (1-2) had an opportunity to win every game this season late in the fourth quarter. A pessimist would counter that the Jets came up short twice. Regardless, both should agree that Sunday’s matchup against the Lions at MetLife Stadium won’t be a walk in the park.

This weekend’s matchup marks the first of five straight games against teams currently 2-1, making the Week 4 interconference matchup unnaturally critical to the Jets’ momentum entering a tough October stretch. Here’s a look at what they must do to get back to .500.

Room to runNo team in the NFL has been better at stopping the run than the Jets (55 ypg), and only the Jets are better at it than the Lions (63.7). While the Lions’ rushing attack featuring Reggie Bush and Joique Bell hasn’t been great (87 ypg, 25th in NFL), the Jets average 157.7 and rank second. Bottling up Detroit might not be too hard, but the Jets will have to create opportunities for Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory to break off some big runs of their own.

‘Mega’ problemWideout Calvin Johnson, the focal point of the Lions’ dangerous aerial attack, missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday. NFL players don’t tend to play without practicing all week, so if he sits again Friday there’s a strong chance the Jets won’t need to worry about him on Sunday. But if “Megatron” does play, he’s always a candidate for outrageous plays, even if he’s hobbled. For the Jets’ sake, maybe Detroit should give him the week off to rest his ankle.

Step up for SmithQuarterback Geno Smith has about two reliable options he can throw to: Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley. Decker’s hamstring could affect his availability for the second week in a row, leaving Kerley as the best — and really only — option in the Jets passing attack. The Jets aren’t going to go far unless someone else emerges to help Smith out. Second-round pick Jace Amaro had three catches in the 27-19 loss to the Bears on Monday, and one went for 43 yards. More of that will go a long way.

Scott Fontana