Gameday: 5 things to watch against the New York Jets

Five things to watch against the New York Jets

1.  Stop the coal miner's son: Jets running back Thomas Jones of Big Stone Gap, Va., has rushed for 1,000 yards for the fifth consecutive season. He has 1,167 yards and helps to power the league's top rushing attack, which averages 169.1 yards per game.

Jones will face a stiff test against the Falcons defense, which has allowed 89.8 yards rushing over the past four games.

"It's definitely a big challenge," Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas said. "Jones is back there running the ball like a mad man."

Jones has rushed for over 100 yards in 33 games in his career. He has six 100-yard games this season, including a 210-yard effort against Buffalo on Oct. 18.

New England's Fred Taylor is the only running back to run for more than 100 yards against the Falcons this season.

"You don't want anybody to run the ball against you," Falcons middle linebacker Curtis Lofton said. "I think their offensive line has five or six guys who have been taken in the first round. They move well and they are smart players."

2. Watch out for Darrelle the Dominator: Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis will shadow Falcons receiver Roddy White.

His job is to shut down the opposition's top receiving threat.

"There is nobody close to him in this league," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "I've been in the league a long time and I've never seen anybody close to him. We put him on the best receiver each week, and each week he goes out and doesn't just compete, he dominates."

With Revis locking down receivers, Ryan is free to roll coverages to the opposite side of the field and allow his blitzes more time to get to the quarterback.

"I've seen where people will lock a corner on a second receiver," Ryan said. "But to do it down after down against the opponents' best receiver -- and not just on middle-of-the-road guys, but Pro Bowl talent -- the guy is really, really amazing to me."

3. Who is David Harris?: With Bart Scott and Calvin Pace in the Jets linebacker corps, middle linebacker David Harris gets overlooked.

Harris, who’s in his third year out of Michigan, can stuff the run and play in pass coverage. He's the Jets' top tackler with 123. He also has 5.5 sacks and two interceptions.

"He's been a tremendous player on the No. 1 defense in the National Football League," Ryan said. "I think he's a guy who will get a lot of attention as well."

The Falcons are well aware of Harris.

"He's having a very good year," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "I've been very impressed with David Harris."

4. O-line has to get nasty: The weather could make field conditions sloppy, and the Falcons may have to rely on their running game.

The Falcons have not rushed for more that 90 yards since Michael Turner was originally hurt against Carolina on Nov. 14. Over the past four games, they've rushed for 90, 75, 61 and 89 yards.

Getting Turner back would certainly help. He's a game-time decision as he's coming back from reinjuring his ankle against Tampa Bay on Nov. 29.

If Turner is not able to go, the offensive line has to open some holes to spring backups Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling so they won't have to rely on the passing game in the notorious swirling winds at the Meadowlands.

"We are preparing to see Turner," Ryan said. "He's a load. When I was in Baltimore we played San Diego. I'm like ‘all right, L.T. (LaDainian Tomlinson) is out of there.' I'm thinking I'm getting a break and play seven-man spacing. Turner runs for about 50 yards. So I'm like ‘wow, who is this guy.' "

5. Both teams could turn to backups: Both teams have quarterback dilemmas.

Matt Ryan (turf toe) and rookie Mark Sanchez (knee) could return to action from injuries.

Both practiced last week with their teams but could give way to their backups, Chris Redman and Kellen Clemens.

Early word out of both camps is that it looks like Sanchez and Redman will square off.

Sanchez has struggled this season, completing 53.2 percent of his passes for 2,059 yards with 11 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

"Mark is a very talented quarterback," Smith said. "He cannot only make plays throwing the football, but he also is a very effective scrambler."

Redman passed for 303 yards against the New Orleans Saints last week, his second-highest total over his seven-year NFL career.

Key matchups

Jets LB Bart Scott vs. Falcons FB Ovie Mughelli: The former teammates used to have classic battles when they were trying to earn playing time in Baltimore.

"We were both very hungry," Mughelli said. "We knew we could be starters and we fought for that every day." Jets coach Rex Ryan used to witness those battles when he was an assistant with the Ravens. "Bart Scott is kind of like our engine," Ryan said. "So I'm looking forward to those contacts. He is a physical football player."

Jets CB Darrelle Revis vs. Falcons WR Roddy White: White needs 85 yards receiving to post his third consecutive 1,000-yard season. Revis is being touted as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. He has six interceptions and a league-high 30 passes defensed. "They pass a lot and we know that," Revis said. "We know that there could be opportunities for us to make plays. We know there are going to be a lot of balls thrown to us as well."

Falcons LB Curtis Lofton vs. Jets RB Thomas Jones: Lofton leads the defense with 140 tackles and has helped the Falcons hold three of the past four opponents to under 100 yards rushing. Jones powers the league's top rushing offense with 1,167 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is the first Jets back since Johnny Hector in 1987-88 to post back-to-back seasons of 10 or more rushing touchdowns.

The Falcons will win if ...

They win the turnover battle: "We are 32nd in the league in interceptions per pass," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "That's a stat that obviously nobody is proud of. But I think we've gotten better the last three weeks and have really protected the football. We aren't throwing the careless interceptions."

Control the Jets pressure: The Jets are trying to bring the pressure, and it comes from just about anywhere on the field. Defensive end Shaun Ellis leads the team with six sacks. Linebacker Calvin Pace, who served a four-game suspension at the beginning of the season, is second with six sacks.

Convert on third downs: The Jets have dominated their past three opponents on third down. The Jets have allowed a league-low 12.2 percent of third-down conversions (5 of 41) and have stopped the last 24 third-down attempts. The past three games were against Carolina, Buffalo and Tampa Bay. The Falcons have converted 69 of 166 third downs (41.6 percent).