It will be a pick’em game between the Jets and Jaguars Sunday at MetLife
At least, that’s what the experts say about the Jets (3-11) and Jaguars (2-12) matchup. Some lines have the Jets favored by either a point or 1.5 points.
This won’t have the intensity of a playoff game, but the matchup of Zach Wilson against Trevor Lawrence can be one that will be decided in the fourth quarter.
It should be that type of game and it could very well be an interesting one. Or it could look like a final preseason exhibition game when you need a roster to figure out who is playing.
This won’t be one to remember.
In the long run, the outcome of this game likely will be insignificant. However, this game can help shape the team for next season. This season, the Jets’ interest outside of Wilson has waned.
The main theme for the week has been the Jets’ number of players on the COVID-19 list that dropped from 20 to 18 when cornerback Justin Hardee and wide receiver Jeff Smith were given the green light to play Saturday.
Head coach Robet Saleh wasn’t cleared Saturday and tight ends coach Ron Middleton will coach the team against Jacksonville interim head coach Darrrell Bevell, a matchup that will be a good trivia question in the future.
The Jaguars will be without wide receiver Laviska Shenault, guard Ben Bartch, and defensive lineman Josh Allen on the COVID list along with a handful of players on the injured list.
Besides the COVID and injury strains that have affected both teams, this will boil down to decisions about the 2022 season.
Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich’s’ 32nd-ranked total defense (391.8 yards per game) and 32nd in scoring (30.6 points) again will be under fire to stop Lawrence and running back James Robinson, who could join the list of backs who have ravaged the 30th-ranked rushing unit for a 100-yard-plus afternoon.
Ulbrich’s job could be on the line as well as some of his players in a unit that has been a dumpster fire all season.
The Jets’ secondary has been a revolving door most of the year, but rookie corner Brandin Echols – last week’s defensive Rookie of the Week – and incumbent Bryce Hall can give the team the consistency they have sought.
Ulbrich’s unit has a chance to redeem itself when it faces the league’s 31st-ranked total offense and 32nd in scoring. It will come down to pressuring Lawrence and stopping Robinson.
If Wilson doesn’t have slot receiver Jamison Crowder available, he will look to Braxton Berrios, and the inconsistent Keelan Cole and Denzel Mims.
Rookie running back Michael Carter will be in the spotlight without Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson lost to COVID. Carter’s performance should be the key to whether the Jets can break the 20-point mark.
But this gain will be about Wilson and his progression. He’ll face a unit that has held its own against the pass. It will be a test of Wilson’s character with a depleted receiving corps and a one-man show in the backfield.
It’s hard to have faith in the Jets’ defense even to stop a quarterback that has thrown nine touchdowns and 14 interceptions and has one touchdown pass in the last seven weeks.
Remember, this is a pick’em game.
Somehow, though,you get the feeling that Lawrence will show New York why he was the top overall pick, and why the Jets still have some soul searching to do.