October 10, 2014

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos were absolutely disastrous the last time they played at MetLife Stadium.

The New York Jets have been more of an ongoing disaster, one which has left coach Rex Ryan admitting that his job could be on the line.

Manning has a chance to feast on one of the NFL's worst pass defenses and move closer to another record Sunday when the Broncos try to make this appearance at MetLife much more memorable against the lowly Jets.

Denver's previous game in East Rutherford started with an errant snap that sailed past Manning and into the end zone for a safety, and it didn't get any better for the Broncos (4-1) as they were trounced 43-8 by Seattle in one of the more lopsided Super Bowls.

After setting single-season records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55), Manning was intercepted twice while going 34 of 49 for 280 yards and one score.

Anything similar appears unlikely against the Jets (1-4), who are tied with Jacksonville for the second-most passing touchdowns allowed (12) and have watched opposing quarterbacks post a 107.5 rating - the third-highest in the league. New York has also managed only one pick, which matches the Jaguars and New Orleans for the NFL's fewest.

Manning, meanwhile, has 12 TDs, three interceptions and a 109.0 rating while hitting 66.5 percent of his throws for 1,293 yards. After tossing four TDs last weekend, he's five shy of Brett Favre's NFL-record 508 - a mark he has a good chance to match or break against the reeling Jets, who have lost four in a row.

The veteran quarterback has thrown at least five TD passes eight times in his career, including twice last season. He got close last week while racking up 479 yards and connecting on 31 of 47 attempts with two picks in a 41-20 win over Arizona.

He's still not taking the Jets for granted since they're tied with Buffalo for the league's most sacks (17) and have allowed 320.8 yards per game, including 83.0 rushing.

"This is a stout defense; tough against the run, causes you a lot of pass protection issues, No. 1 in sacks, a lot of three-and-outs," Manning said.

"It's difficult for an offense because they give you a lot of different looks. It's a challenge for us in the passing game and the run game, handling just their physical talent and handling just the different looks they give, as well."

The Broncos' ground game, which ranks 29th at 79.5 yards per contest, may have further challenges after starter Montee Ball was lost for several weeks to a groin injury. He was replaced by Ronnie Hillman, who ran 17 times for 66 yards and should get the nod Sunday.

"We're still looking for that balance every single week," Manning said. "It's a great opportunity for Ronnie. He's played at different times for different amounts, but when you're the starting back there's a different hat that you wear. So we're counting on him. He has a burst that is pretty unique."

The Jets are in a rather unique position, enduring their longest losing streak since a six-game skid in 2007. Getting any closer to matching that slide would only increase the pressure on Ryan and embattled quarterback Geno Smith.

And Ryan is well aware that he's on the hot seat.

"You're right, if that's the case and we don't get this thing on the right track, I don't think for a minute I'll be here," he told ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "I know I won't, but I believe this team will right itself and we'll find a way."

Finding a way must involve putting points on the scoreboard after the Jets managed a season-low 151 yards while being pummeled 31-0 at San Diego last week.

Smith didn't show any signs of progress, completing 4 of 12 passes for 27 yards and a pick before being pulled at halftime in favor of Michael Vick. Fans have been calling for the veteran backup, but he wasn't any better, going 8 for 19 for 47 yards with two sacks.

Ryan isn't wavering in his support of Smith, who was last seen at the Meadowlands shouting an expletive at a heckler following a 24-17 defeat to Detroit in Week 4 that earned him a $12,000 fine. He then missed a meeting before the drubbing by the Chargers.

"Was this thing just an aberration?" Ryan said. "I believe it was."

Smith may have Eric Decker to throw to after he missed a game with a nagging hamstring injury. The receiver can find some extra motivation since he spent his first four seasons with Denver before moving to New York via free agency in March.

"I guess it's weird, just because it's the first time I've been on a different team, going against my former team where I spent four years and made a lot of memories," Decker told the Broncos' official website.

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