The holiday season is upon us- here's a look at wish lists for a few NFL teams.
This has been a year of severely unbalanced teams, arguably none more so than the Green Bay Packers. This year, like last year and the year before, the boys in green and yellow desperately need to upgrade their rushing attack to take some heat off star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has averaged 34 passing attempts per game and been sacked 37 times, second worst in the league. After offseason acquisition Cedric Benson was injured in Week 5, the Packers’ running game has foundered, as none of their running backs has been able to gain any traction in recent weeks. Alex Green has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff after averaging 33 yards per game, but former playoff hero James Starks has done little better with only 38 yards per game. The trade deadline has passed, so Green Bay’s best hope is for the Benson to return and restore their offensive balance.
The New York Jets are again one of the more colorful teams in the NFL. We’ve already seen the inevitable Tim Tebow quarterback controversy, an anonymous locker room disagreement, and speculation about the job security of coach Rex Ryan. But the Jets are accustomed to the limelight- what they really need this Christmas is a wide receiver who can consistently make plays downfield. Jeremy Kerley, the Jets’ leading receiver, has only two touchdowns on 45 receptions and has been one of the lone bright spots on their mediocre offense. Quarterback Mark Sanchez has taken blame for the team’s 4-7 record, but none of the receivers besides Kerley has even 300 yards receiving. Sanchez has been far from spectacular but hardly seems to be the problem. The team simply did not do enough in the offseason to provide him with offensive weapons and is now paying the price. The Jets clearly miss last year’s red zone threats Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress and need one of their current receivers to step up in the next few weeks.
The Baltimore Ravens have compiled an impressive 9-2 record, largely due to improved decision-making from quarterback Joe Flacco and prolific output from running back Ray Rice. But their main weakness has been their abysmal rush defense. Linebackers Terrell Suggs and ageless wonder Ray Lewis have each missed a month of games, weakening the heart of the defense and contributing to their 128.5 rushing yards allowed per game, fifth worst in the NFL. Suggs has been hampered by his recovery from an Achilles tendon injury, while Lewis is expected to return soon from his own triceps injury. The nightmare scenario for the Ravens is for their defense to face a top-flight rushing offense with a proven play-action game, as in Week 7’s 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans, in which star running back Arian Foster led a rushing attack that amassed 181 yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Matt Schaub exploited their defensive weakness in the secondary. In the playoffs, it will be sink or swim for the Ravens- their title hopes could hinge on their ability to defend against the running game.
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