Jets @ Cowboys – week 15 Preview: What a strange year 2015 has been. Certainly at the start of the season you would have been hard pressed to find anyone who would predict that the Cowboys would be heading into this game at 4 – 9, and even the most optimistic Jets fan would be fairly pleased with the team’s playoff prospects at this point of the season, particularly considering Ryan Fitzpatrick is putting together the best season a Jets quarterback has had in years. Even stranger is the fact that even at 4 – 9, the Cowboys have a shot at getting into the playoffs still, in spite of missing Tony Romo for all but three games this year, and star wideout Dez Bryant for an extended period as well. Stephen Jones, the Director of Player Personnel, has admitted that a backup quarterback is something that Dallas will be looking for in the draft – Of the Cowboys’ four wins, only one has come with a player not named Tony Romo under center. Matt Cassel certainly appears to be an upgrade on Brandon Weeden, but he certainly isn’t the answer. New York appeared, at the start of the season, to be heading for some quarterback woes of their own, with nominal starter Geno Smith being sidelined for six weeks after a locker room incident left him with a broken jaw. Fear not, Jets fans, because Ryan Fitzpatrick has played lights out. His connection with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker has reaped huge rewards, and the defense has performed well, resulting in the Jets being the league’s number one red zone team on both sides of the football. Keys to the Game Getting the Run Going – Both teams have to establish the run, and keep pounding it on the ground to get anywhere in this game. The Cowboys’ defense is ranked fourth in the league in passing yards allowed per game, and the Jets’ star cornerback Darrelle Revis is active after a concussion. Expect to see Chris Ivory and Darren McFadden getting the ball in their hands early to free up the passing game. Ivory has been on a tear this year, and so getting the attention of Greg Hardy and Sean Lee away from Ryan Fitzpatrick will give Marshall and Decker some breathing space later in the game. Laying Siege to the Cassel – Dallas have invested numerous high draft picks in their offensive line in recent years, whereas the Jets’ investment has been on the opposite side of the ball. One of the most exciting aspects of this game is the prospect of seeing two of the elite units in the game facing off directly against one another. Not to forget, of course, that Dallas also have a highly talented pass rush, especially Greg Hardy, and Brit Jack Crawford also looking to contribute some sacks. Kick Back, Don’t Relax – Between the Cowboys’ defensive talents and their inability to move the ball in the passing game, both teams will be looking to their kickers to get points on the board. If Dan Bailey and Randy Bullock can consistently hit the target, then this will be a close game. Bailey in particular has been almost metronomic throughout his career, with the highest accuracy of any active placekicker. Key Matchup Dez Bryant vs. Darrelle Revis – Yes, Bryant has been injured this year. Yes, Revis is coming back from a concussion. This is still a matchup with true game changing potential. If Bryant gets the ball in his hands, like he’s been demanding since his return, then you should expect Cassel to have some big numbers. This alone takes Revis, the league’s best cornerback since Deion Sanders, away from the other threats in the offing, and will make it easier for Cassel to get the ball to Jason Witten, or dump it off to McFadden out of the backfield. Prediction If the Cowboys can disrupt the Jets’ passing game by repeatedly getting to Fitzpatrick, then they should stay in the game long enough to keep it close. In all likelihood, though, this is going to be a win for the visitors. Jets 17 – 13 Cowboys.