ST. LOUIS – Cue the calliope. You thought last week’s tie was a circus? Well, the show must roll on, because the New York Jets land in our fair city with the largest red noses in the NFL.
Where to start with the gang that’s always green with envy? There’s the 3-6 record, good for last place in the AFC East. There are the three consecutive losses, including a combined 58-16 spanking in the last two. There are the anonymous rips on Tim Tebow, the tears from Rex Ryan, the jeers from a hot fan base and a Dumbo sighting at the team facility in Florham Park, N.J.
OK, only one of those is untrue.
It’s enough to make you laugh – if your cheeks weren’t already numb from snickers along the way. The Jets have offered plenty of laugh-track material through 10 weeks, and we’re not even to Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Rams are giving thanks for fate pairing them against the most dysfunctional outfit this side of the Jersey Shore crew Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. That’s just what the doctor ordered a week after blown chances in the Bay Area.
So who ya got? Tebow or Mark Sanchez? Ryan or a fractured locker room? An anonymous source or “put your name on it”?
The undercards are fascinating enough, and they’ll all be fought on one sideline. Kick up your feet, and enjoy the 20-car pileup.
Start the show already, because this ought to be a scream.
On to Week 11…
How will the Rams respond after the tie?
It’s a half-full and half-empty world. On one hand, the Rams stared down the NFC West’s bully in his own backyard by racking up 458 yards and 24 points in a game that few outside their charter plane thought they’d win. On the other, they let a golden chance to earn their first victory since Week 5 slip through their mitts because of errors that would have made the Kansas City Chiefs break out a new dance routine.
Still, there are reasons to move forward with an extra bounce in their stride. Sam Bradford completed 26 of 39 passes for 275 yards with two touchdowns – Why can’t he play like that each week? – and wide receiver Danny Amendola totaled 102 yards on 11 catches in his return from a clavicle injury.
Here’s a key news nugget: Amendola is nowhere to be found on the injury report. That’s good for the guys in navy and gold, because the Rams are like a raft without a paddle when he’s gone. They went 0-3 in his absence this season, looking like a group destined to tumble from Niagara Falls without No. 16 scurrying in the slot.
What’s the best way to respond after a tie? Loosen the knot in your stomach and move on, especially on offense.
How will the Rams keep the Jets off the rails offensively?
Perhaps sometime Sunday night, Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will walk into his den, crack a cold one and laugh at the smoke trail he left in his rear-view mirror. He was run from the New York area faster than the Dutch after six seasons, but the Jets still stagger without him.
Look at the stats: The Jets are No. 30 in total offense (302.7 yards per game), No. 27 in passing offense (195.8 ypg) and No. 16 in rushing offense (106.9 ypg). They have scored 10 points or fewer four times. Sanchez is a shadow of the quarterback they thought he’d be when he was taken fifth overall in the 2009 draft. The wheels are spinning – oh, they’re churning – but this clown car remains stuck in the mud.
Granted, the Rams spent most of October locked in neutral as well. That’s why the outburst in San Francisco was such a surprise. That’s why the production should have led to a victory – if the defense hadn’t made 49ers reserve quarterback Colin Kaepernick look like Peyton Manning in the fourth quarter.
Sanchez is no savior, and his head is a kaleidoscope after Tebowmania seeped into Jets Land. He’s ripe for the picking, which is exactly what Cortland Finnegan and Co. will try to do.
What will happen?
At some point, this all will end. The Tebow talk. The Ryan stonewalls. The Sanchez glazed looks. If you’re supposed to make lemonade out of life’s lemons, then the Jets have done a fine job of turning their sour moments into arsenic.
So we get to watch this wounded dog crawl Sunday. This sentence has been typed far too few in the last five years around these parts, but it’s true: The Rams should win. In fact, it would be a letdown worse than the Candlestick Draw if they don’t.
Why? A few reasons: The Rams aren’t schizophrenic behind center, they don’t have a locker room where Brutus makes a guest appearance at least once a year, and they’re building with young talent at the same time the Jets are digging a grave.
One team’s stock is stable, and the other’s is part of a fire sale. A translation for the Wall Street audience: The Rams could be bulls in the near future while the Jets are nothing but bears.
There has been little to praise in this slide to the NFC West basement after a 3-2 start. But Sunday, with the Greatest Spectacle in Sports under the Arch, the “W” will return.
Pick: Rams 21, Jets 7
You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.