Cardinals-Jets Preview

Things may be terrible for the Arizona Cardinals, but Mark

Sanchez and the New York Jets are the butt of jokes nationally.

Coach Rex Ryan still thinks his beleaguered team has a chance at

the playoffs.

Sanchez and the Jets will try to rebound from an embarrassing

performance by beginning to capitalize on a seemingly favorable

season-ending stretch of schedule Sunday against the Cardinals.

Arizona (4-7) opened the season 4-0 before its current

seven-game tailspin put it practically out of playoff

contention.

While New York (4-7) owns the same record, it feels it still has

a chance to make a run at a postseason spot. However, the Jets

resembled anything but a playoff team on national television on

Thanksgiving, losing 49-19 to AFC East-leading New England. They

surrendered 35 points in the second quarter with three touchdowns

coming in a span of 52 seconds, including a fiasco of a play by

Sanchez that typified their season to date.

The embattled quarterback tried to run the ball on a broken

play, but ran into guard Brandon Moore’s rear end and fell

backwards to the turf while his fumble ended up being returned for

Patriots TD.

“It’s embarrassing,” Sanchez said. “You screw up the play and

I’m trying to do the right thing. It’s not like I’m trying to force

something. I start to slide and I slide right in the worst spot I

possibly could: right into Brandon Moore.

“I guess (I was) more stunned than anything. Just like a car

accident. I was like, ‘Whoa. What just happened?’ Then, the ball’s

gone. It was weird.”

Even stranger is the notion Ryan thinks New York can run the

table in order to make the playoffs. While he’s not willing to

guarantee it, he did note the Jets’ remaining five games come

against teams with losing records.

After facing the Cardinals, New York is at Jacksonville (2-9),

at Tennessee (4-7), home for San Diego (4-7) and at Buffalo

(4-7).

“I’m saying right now that I’m not going to make a guarantee

that we’re going to make the playoffs or that deal,” Ryan said. “We

have to get better. It has to start right now.”

Improvement from Sanchez would surely help. He’s thrown four

touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 61.3 percent of

his passes for 1,214 yards with an 80.5 passer rating while the

Jets have lost four of five.

Sanchez, who also has lost five fumbles this season, is facing a

Cardinals’ defense that ranks fourth in the league against the pass

(203.7 yards pas game) and in interceptions (15). The unit has

picked off seven passes in three games.

While the Jets continue to see their quarterback situation

debated nationally as Tim Tebow continues to recover from two

cracked ribs, the Cardinals are sticking with rookie Ryan Lindley

over the ineffective John Skelton while Kevin Kolb heals from a rib

injury.

“He isn’t going to get in the game until we are sure that he can

take a hit,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said of Kolb. “With what happened

with him, you just have to make sure that he’s cleared to do

that.”

Until then, Whisenhunt will call upon Lindley, a sixth-round

pick out of San Diego State. His inexperience showed in his first

NFL start last weekend, tossing four interceptions – with two

returned for scores – while completing 31 of 52 passes for 312

yards in a 31-17 loss to St. Louis.

For this game, he won’t have Lyle Sendlein snapping him the ball

after the ironman center was ruled out for the rest of the season

with a torn left MCL, snapping his string of 80 consecutive starts.

He’s expected to be replaced by Rich Ohrnberger, who started twice

this year at right guard in place of an injured Adam Snyder.

“As a backup guy you’ve got to be ready no matter what the

circumstances,” Ohrnberger said. “It’s just another one of those

situations where you get put in there and have got to keep the

thing running.”

Arizona is trying to avoid its first eight-game losing streak

since Sept. 17-Nov. 12, 2006.

The Jets have won five in a row against the Cardinals since a

loss on Nov. 23, 1975. They took the most recent meeting 56-35 at

home on Sept. 28, 2008.