With just one win in their first four games, the Atlanta Falcons are in desperation mode heading into their Monday night meeting with the Jets. Atlanta has been one of the National Football League's most disappointing teams this season and needs a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Despite the poor start, Gang Green will still have their hands full with Matt Ryan and company. The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback ranks near the top of the league in almost every passing category and has been as effective as ever.
Ryan's team has had no problem getting into the red zone, but their inability to convert those scoring opportunities into touchdowns is a big reason why they've already lost three games.
The Falcons offense could be slowed down considerably though with star wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White listed as questionable with knee and ankle injuries, respectively. Further complicating matters for Atlanta, running back Steven Jackson and tackle Sam Baker are also hurt and will not play.
As is the norm this time of year, the Jets are dealing with injury problems as well.
While running back Chris Ivory is probably going to make his return from an injured hamstring, the team's primary receiver, Santonio Holmes, is out, dealing with hamstring problems of his own. Clyde Gates and Kellen Winslow, two more of quarterback Geno Smith's passing targets, are both listed as questionable with knee injuries and will be game-time decisions.
The return of running back Mike Goodson from a four-game suspension and the debut of recently signed wide receiver David Nelson should help add some depth on offense.
Surprisingly, receiver Stephen Hill, who suffered a concussion just a week ago, fully participated in practice on Saturday and is expected to start.
Regardless of who does or doesn't play, it is imperative that the Jets put an end to their road woes. The team has eight turnovers in two forgettable performances away from home and has scored 11 fewer points per game in their two road losses.
Atlanta's pass defense has been dreadful and is just what the doctor ordered for Gang Green. If the Jets remain committed to throwing deep, Smith could have a field day against a team like the Falcons that gets little pressure on the quarterback and gives up a ton of yardage.
For a Week Five game, a lot is at stake for both teams. The Falcons need to get their season back on track and the Jets must prove they're capable of playing well away from home.
While moral victories don't help much in the standings, a good effort on the road is almost as important as a win for the Jets.
All eyes will once again be on Smith and whether or not he can cut down on his mistakes. With injuries possibly playing a large role, the less turnovers he commits, the more realistic of a chance Gang Green has of avoiding defeat in Atlanta.