Football Outsiders managing editor Bill Barnwell and I pick over or under for three players from each AFC East team, using 2010 statistical projections from ESPN.com's fantasy analysts.
SanchezQuarterback Mark Sanchez, 17 touchdowns and 17 interceptions
Barnwell's take: OVER and OVER. Sanchez threw only 364 passes last year, and he was picked off on 5.5 percent of those throws. Since 364 is about two-thirds of a season for most quarterbacks, if you project Sanchez's performance onto a more reasonable 16-game total for quarterbacks -- 500 attempts -- then he would have thrown 28 picks. I wholly believe that Sanchez will play better as a sophomore, but the Jets' running game won't be as effective with the loss of Alan Faneca. Sanchez is going to have to throw the ball more than he did a year ago. When he does, he's going to make mistakes. I think the rise in attempts will also push his touchdown rate up, though, to the point where he should be able to hit 20 touchdowns.
My take: OVER and OVER. The Jets are going to throw significantly more in 2010. They acquired Santonio Holmes. Sanchez will have Braylon Edwards for a full season. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will figure out ways to use tight end Dustin Keller more, especially in the red zone. Part of LaDainian Tomlinson's appeal is that the Jets can throw to him out of the backfield. Plus, the run game might not prove to be as reliable without Thomas Jones. Shonn Greene showed promise in the postseason, but can he be a workhorse for a full season?
TomlinsonRunning back LaDainian Tomlinson, 644 rushing yards and seven touchdowns
Barnwell's take: UNDER and UNDER. I'm not bullish on Tomlinson's chances in New York. He was dire in San Diego last year. His touchdown total occurred because he had more chances inside the 5-yard line than any back besides Adrian Peterson. If you compare Tomlinson's performance there to a league-average back given the same number of opportunities, Tomlinson's touchdown total was actually below-average. There are the complicating factors of injury and a likely decline in the Jets' running game.
My take: OVER and UNDER. I'm probably reaching a little on the yardage, but Tomlinson did rush for 730 yards in a passing offense and behind a line that's not as talented as New York's. Even if he's the backup, he'll take his share of handoffs. With Jones taking a lion's share of the Jets' rushing attempts last year and Leon Washington getting 72 carries, Greene managed to rush for 540 yards as a rookie. Green looks like he'll be the featured back, but the carries should be more balanced this year. But around the goal line, Greene should get the carries and limit Tomlinson's touchdowns.
CromartieCornerback Antonio Cromartie, five interceptions
Barnwell's take: UNDER. Cromartie's another example of the issues I brought up with Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd. Interception totals just aren't consistent from year to year in the way other statistics are. Cromartie followed a 10-interception season in 2007 with five picks in '08 and '09 combined. Darrelle Revis isn't like Nnamdi Asomugha, who forces a lot of passes -- and potential interceptions -- the opposite way. Revis was targeted more than all but three other corners last year because the Jets build a scheme designed to dare quarterbacks into throwing his direction. Cromartie won't get the targets for five picks.
My take: OVER. A substantial reason for Cromartie's steep decline in interceptions after his All-Pro season was X's and O's. He is much better in man-to-man coverage, but the Chargers asked him to play more zone the past two years. Jets defensive mastermind Rex Ryan wants his cornerbacks in man coverage. Ryan does manipulate quarterbacks into throwing Revis' way, as Bill noted. But Dwight Lowery and Lito Sheppard, who split the starts opposite Revis, still combined for four interceptions last year. Cromartie is more dangerous than Sheppard and Lowery.