The New York Jets have the opportunity to make a run over the last third of the season. Sunday's home contest against the Arizona Cardinals is the first of four matchups over the final five games against a team that is currently 4-7.
The fifth club on the schedule is the Jacksonville Jaguars who currently sit at 2-9.
Ardent fans still believe the Jets (4-7) can make a playoff run. That is a stretch, but Rex Ryan could avoid a losing season in 2012.
Not much has gone right for the Cardinals over the last two months. They have suffered setbacks on their already depleted offensive line, leading to a seven-game losing streak highlighted by several quarterback injuries.
Following is a look at Sunday's matchup, including odds, fantasy impact and a prediction on how the game will develop.
When: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1 p.m ET
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Odds: (via Bovada)
Money Line: Cardinals +180, Jets -220
Fans leaning towards the Jets should feel comfortable surrendering the points.
The payout on the money line is tempting for bettors leaning towards the Cardinals, but it would be hard to pass up the cushion available in the spread.
Spread: Jets -4.5
The Jets will apply defensive pressure on a rookie quarterback making just his second start in the NFL. Ryan Lindley will be playing behind a porous offensive line that has contributed to several injuries on fellow quarterbacks, John Skelton and Kevin Kolb.
This contest should be close, with Arizona's defense keeping it in the game, but I expect the Jets to cover the spread.
I completed my game analysis and posted my score prediction prior to the over/under being released. I have a final tally of 34 points, including a defensive score.
Both offenses have struggled recently and the defenses are good enough to continue the trend.
Arizona Injury Report (via CBSSports.com)
Did Not Participate in Practice on Thursday
Andre Roberts, WR, Ankle
Early Doucet, WR, Ribs
Todd Heap, TE, Knee
Kevin Kolb, QB, Ribs
Alfonso Smith, RB, Illness
LaRon Byrd, WR, Head
Justin Bethel, S, Shoulder
Mike Leach, TE, Back
Kerry Rhodes, S, Back
William Powell, RB, Shoulder
New York Injury Report (via New York Jets)
Did Not Participate in Practice on Thursday
Clyde Gates, WR, Concussion
LaRon Landry, S, Heel
Aaron Berry, DB, Quadriceps
Brandon Moore, G, HiP
Sione Po'uha, DT, Back
Ricky Sapp, LB, Ankle
Tim Tebow, QB, Ribs
Jeff Cumberland, TE, Wrist
Kenrick Ellis, DT, Knee
Dustin Keller, TE, Illness
Jeremy Kerley, WR, Heel / Hamstring / Illness
Nick Mangold, C, Thumb
Joe McKnight, RB, Ankle
Calvin Pace, LB, Shoulder
Bilal Powell, RB, Shoulder
Mark Sanchez, QB, Back
Chaz Schilens, WR, Concussion / Hip
Bart Scott, LB, Toe
Matt Slauson, G, Knee
Fantasy Big Plays
Arizona: WR Larry Fitzgerald
I don't expect a lot of production from Fitzgerald, but he's the best option to pick up yards for the Cardinals. Arizona needs to scheme some quick-hit passing options to get Fitzgerald the ball.
With just 627 yards and four receiving touchdowns on the season, he actually trails Andre Roberts in both stats.
Chris Wells is another possible starter, as he could be the only healthy running back on the roster this weekend. He'll get opportunities to run the ball.
Projected Stats: 4 receptions, 68 yards, 0 TD
New York: Defense
This game won't exactly be a showcase for offensive talent. Both teams have struggled moving the ball and scoring this season.
The Cardinals offense has been surrendering sacks and turnovers by the fistful in recent weeks. Losing starting center Lyle Sendlein won't help change its fortunes, either.
Ryan Lindley is expected to start again this weekend. A rookie quarterback under heavy pressure isn't a good combination.
Projected Stats: 6 Sacks, 2 INTs, 1 Fumble, 0 TDs
Key to Victory
Lindley threw for over 300 yards in his debut start last week. He also threw a pair of touchdown passes, but the problem is they were to the opposition.
Four interceptions were the turning point of the Cardinals' 31-17 loss. Turnovers were also a major turning point in the Jets' loss to the New England Patriots.
The Jets can apply enough pressure on Lindley to force him into mistakes. The Cardinals have a top-10 defense of their own and they can force errors and turnovers.
Whichever defense can force the opposing offense into making more mistakes will likely walk out of MetLife Stadium with the win.
The Jets defense has been just average this season. Turnovers and a struggling offense have led to the team being blown out in three of its last four games.
What better way to get healthy than playing against a rookie quarterback with just one start and being protected by a bad offensive line?
The Jets should be able to notch six sacks and multiple takeaways in Week 13. Clean offensive play and a pressing defense should get them their fifth win on the season.
The Cardinals still have an offensive weapon that can strike at any moment. One or two plays, likely including throwing the ball up to Fitzgerald, can be a turning point on Sunday. Chris Wells can also pick up yards on the ground.
The Jets defense may not score twice, but the unit should set up at least one short touchdown drive, which will be the difference in the game.
Final Score: Jets 20, Cardinals 14
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.
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