Posted: Monday October 24, 2005 12:01PM; Updated: Monday October 24, 2005 5:37PM
In two starts, Vinny Testaverde has completed 25 of 45 passes for 324 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions.
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Perloff's Primetime Picks
N.E. 27, Oak. 24
N.E. wins 30-20
Atl. 23, Phi. 20
Atl. wins 14-10
N.O. 24, NYG 21
NYG wins 27-10
Dal. 23, Wash. 19
Wash. wins 14-13
Den. 31, K.C. 28
Den. wins 30-10
G.B. 28, Car. 24
Car. wins 32-29
Pit. 30, S.D. 21
Pit. wins 24-22
Ind. 42, StL. 21
Ind. wins 38-20
Perloff's MNF Record: 5-3
If you like a wide-open display of passing brilliance, this is your week to check out whatever CSI-type program is up against Monday Night Football. The Jets ranks 26th in the NFL in passing and the Falcons are 28th. Tonight's game will be about running the ball and defense, hopefully with a nifty Michael Vick scramble or two.
There couldn't be more of a contrast between the two quarterbacks, Atlanta's Vick and New York's Vinny Testaverde. Testaverde wasn't mobile when he entered the league in 1987 and the 41-year-old veteran is slower than ever now. Vick, 25, hasn't been throwing the ball well this year, but his feet are as dangerous as ever. Despite a nagging knee injury, he's second on the Falcons with 284 rushing yards in five games, averaging 7.1 yards per carry.
The Jets Win If ...
This becomes a slow-paced, grind-it-out defensive battle and they use their rushing attack to control the clock. Jets RB Curtis Martin has been struggling with a knee problem, although he did rush for 148 yards and a touchdown last week in a loss to the Bills. The Falcons rank 28th against the run, so Martin could have a big night.
The danger spot for the Jets is the center-quarterback exchange, which has been nothing but trouble this season. Starting center Kevin Mawae tore a triceps tendon last week, so guard Pete Kendall will move to center tonight. He snapped the ball for the Cardinals a couple of years ago, so he should be OK if he can hear Testaverde in the noisy Georgia Dome.
Coach Herman Edwards said he's not going to shadow Vick with a linebacker, like teams used to do to Edwards' former teammate Randall Cunningham. The Jets' defense has actually played fairly well, considering they've gotten little help from the offense. They will, however, be challenged by Atlanta's Warrick Dunn, who is fifth in the NFL with 577 rushing yards.
The Falcons Win If ...
Their coaching staff figures out a way to get the defense back on track. Atlanta has suffered some injuries to key players, including losing middle linebacker Edgerton Hartwell for the season, but even that's no excuse for the 456 yards of total offense the Falcons allowed the Saints a week ago. If Atlanta's defense can make New Orleans' offense look good, then who knows, maybe even the Jets will move the ball.
Michael Vick's 77.4 passer rating ranks 23rd in the NFL.
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
The Falcons have gone out of their way to provide Vick with receiving weapons in recent years. Unfortunately, their efforts have failed. Other than tight end Alge Crumpler, Atlanta has no consistent threats to catch the ball. Roddy White and Michael Jenkins, the Falcons' first-round picks over the last two years, have not produced consistently, and veteran Dez White has just two catches in four games. That means a lot of running from Dunn and Vick, and, hopefully for Atlanta, a big play or two by the talented Crumpler.
The Falcons have caused 31 false-start penalties since the beginning of the 2004 season in the Georgia Dome. Just imagine how loud that place will get for a Monday night game. Good luck Pete Kendall.
Dating back to last year, the Jets have dropped five straight on the road and this isn't a good spot for them to get back on track. New York needs to get something out of its passing game, but expect the Falcons' defense to really come after Testaverde and disrupt the Jets' offense. Al Michaels and John Madden are probably going to go nuts with their praise for Vick, but Falcons coach Jim Mora is smart enough to stay conservative against New York's defense, which is probably more likely to score than is New York's offense. Dunn will rush for over 100, Vick will run for about 80, Falcons CB DeAngelo Hall will have an interception and Crumpler will have at least one big catch in an easy win for the home team.