When the New York Jets take on the Atlanta Falcons in tonight’s Week 5 Monday Night Football showdown, you’d never know these two teams were ranked in the top-six in three different statistical categories. Looking at their records — the Jets at 2-2 and the Falcons at 1-3 — tonight’s MNF matchup seems like it’ll be a stinker. Yet ESPN booked this one for several reasons, including several that still hold true. MNF kickoff tonight is at 8:40 Eastern / 5:40 Pacific, and if you can’t watch MNF live on ESPN for NFL Week 5, you’ll want to watch Monday Night Football online free streaming using the links below to see why “the motherhship” is still excited to air it.
The story of dueling quarterbacks is probably the biggest draw on MNF tonight, although before the NFL season began the duel was arguably viewed more as a “Mark Sanchez vs. Geno Smith” battle. Instead, when you watch Monday Night Football online free streaming what you’ll see is Geno Smith quite handily in the driver’s seat as the Jets’ starting quarterback, going up against the third-ranked passing game of Falcons QB Matt Ryan, who’s having a solid season. Ryan, in fact, has gone 115-173 for 1,330 yards and eight TDs — twice the number of touchdowns thrown by the Jets’ Smith this season, and almost 300 more yards.
Hope among the Jets faithful is that Smith will have a breakout performance against the Falcons tonight, as Atlanta doesn’t exactly have the best pass rush. On average the Falcons give up 398.5 total yards per game, 316.5 of those in the air. If ever Smith was going to succeed with his passing game, it’s tonight’s MNF game between the Jets and Falcons that would provide that chance, so you’ll want to watch Monday Night Football online free streaming to see if the rookie QB can pull it together. In an interview with ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, the former NFL head coach said of Smith “11 turnovers in four games is not good. There’s also a seven- or eight-play reel where the ball should’ve been intercepted and wasn’t. The decision-making has to get better. The ball security must improve — fast. … He has to show dramatic improvement in that. If he does, he’s got a chance to be the quarterback. If he doesn’t, they’ll have somebody in the bullpen pretty quick.”
Turning it around may be a challenge, with Jets starting wide receiver Santonio Holmes out of tonight’s MNF game after injuring his hamstring last week at Tennessee. Smith will also be going up against a Falcons defense (and offense) that’s desperate to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 2007 and looking to win its first road game since Week 14 last season at Jacksonville. A Jets victory may actually be more reliant upon their defensive success than their offensive output, with the Jets having allowed just three yards per rush this season, tops in the NFL, and making first contact in the backfield on 25% of the runs they’ve faced, second best in the league.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan will look to counteract the Jets’ rushing attack by continuing to take his game to the air. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones has drawn double coverage pretty regularly this season, but tonight he’ll likely line up against a player bold enough to play him straight up: New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie. In spite of a couple of big plays against the Rams and Patriots, the vertical game between Falcons QB Ryan and Jones has been missing for most of the season. Whether the duo can turn it around against the Jets’ defense may largely determine the winner in tonight’s live MNF game in NFL Week 5.
Matt Ryan has had some whiffs this season (hello, Patriots), but so has Geno Smith. Tonight’s MNF showdown was probably initially pitched to ESPN as a battle of quarterbacks — they’re just not getting the battle the expected, with Mark Sanchez on the sidelines and expected to be released. The defense may decide the game for either team, which is something you wouldn’t have necessarily thought when the 2013 NFL Season began. If you can catch tonight’s MNF game live on ESPN or via the ESPN app on Xbox 360, be sure to watch Monday Night Football online free streaming either on gameday-live.com or at this link on DirecTV, which is free if you have the NFL Sunday Ticket Package.