NEW YORK JETS (5-8) AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (9-4)
SERIES HISTORY: 13th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 6-6. The Jets won the last meeting, 26-20, in 2013 in MetLife Stadium, and the Saints won the last meeting in the Superdome, 24-10, in 2009. New Orleans has won five of the last seven. The Saints' first victory was notable because they entered the 1980 game in Shea Stadium with a 0-14 record and the 21-20 triumph was their only victory in a 1-15 season.
KEYS TO THE GAME: It's clearly going to be tough sledding for the Jets offensively, with a backup quarterback (Josh McCown is out for the rest of the season) and a team that struggles to score on the road (14.5 points per game, as opposed to 25.6 at MetLife Stadium).
The best hope they have is to attempt to play keep-away with their running game, but that also may be difficult against a defense likely to stack the box, daring quarterback Bryce Petty to beat them deep.
Defensively, the Jets haven't forced a turnover the last three games, so look for the secondary to try to jump the Saints' routes looking for interceptions. If they succeed, it will greatly help their beleaguered offense. If they don't, it will mean big plays for Drew Brees and Co. Maybe Jets offensive coordinator John Morton, who was the Saints' wide receivers coach the last two years, can help in this department.
The Saints will try to contain the Jets' running game, force Petty into obvious passing situations and turn loose the pass rush.
On the other side of the ball, New Orleans hopes its No. 1-ranked offense (400 yards per game) can keep New York off-balance by using Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara running and passing to create downfield opportunities for Brees.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Jets RT Brandon Shell vs. Saints DE Cameron Jordan. The two-time Pro Bowler Jordan is having as good a season defensively as anyone in the league, with 10 sacks, an interception in the end zone for a touchdown, seven pass deflections and two forced fumbles. He's the best defensive end in the league, according to Pro Football Focus, and Shell is the 47th best tackle.
--Saints RB Alvin Kamara vs. Jets LB Demario Davis. The rookie revelation Kamara said he will be ready for this game after suffering a concussion last Thursday against the Falcons, and he backed that up with a full practice on Wednesday. He's averaging an insane 7 yards per carry, best in the league, and his 639 receiving yards are the most in the league for a running back. Davis is tied for seventh in the league with 109 tackles and should have a dandy of a time chasing Kamara around the field.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
NEW YORK JETS
--Out: DE Muhammad Wilkerson (not injury related)
--Questionable: RB Matt Forte (knee), G Brian Winters (abdomen, ankle)
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
--Out: DE Trey Hendrickson (ankle), LB A.J. Klein (groin)
--Questionable: WR Ted Ginn (rib), G Andrus Peat (groin)
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Saints S Vonn Bell. He has quietly emerged as New Orleans' leading tackler with 63. He is third on the team and tops among non-linemen with 3.5 sacks and has two passes defensed and two forced fumbles. With Kenny Vaccaro battling a groin injury, Bell has become the most consistent safety and a leader in a young secondary.
FAST FACTS: Jets QB Bryce Petty has passed for 230-plus yards in his past two starts with 20-plus attempts. ... RB Bilal Powell has 424 scrimmage yards (84.8 per game) and four TDs in the past five games on the road against NFC teams. ... LB Demario Davis had a team-high 12 tackles last week. He has 10-plus tackles in two of the past three games. He had an interception in his last game against New Orleans. He is one of three players in the NFL (Zach Brown and Bobby Wagner) with 100-plus tackles (109) and 10-plus tackles for loss (11). ... Saints QB Drew Brees ranks fifth in the NFL with 3,569 passing yards. He has 1,216 yards, five TDs and one interception in the past four games at home. ... RB Mark Ingram has 605 scrimmage yards (121 per game) and five rushing TDs in his past five games at home. He has five TDs in his past six games against AFC foes. ... DE Cameron Jordan ranks fourth in the NFC with 10 sacks. He is the only NFL player with 10 sacks and an interception. He has five sacks in the past five games at home.
PREDICTION: Jets fans probably joined QB Josh McCown in shedding tears after his season-ending injury last week. The Saints can't help but win this game, and they probably will win big.
OUR PICK: Saints, 30-10.