The good news for the Jets is QB Zach Wilson is back. The bad news for the Jets is they are bad.
Wilson was activated Wednesday, and he is scheduled to make the start against the Steelers in Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon.
It could have come at a better time for the Jets (1-2), who are coming off a putrid 27-12 loss to Cincinnati at MetLife last Sunday. Backup quarterback Joe Flacco, who led the Jets to a miraculous late-game comeback in Cleveland the week before, was rattled for nine quarterback hits and sacked four times in the defeat. Flacco completed 28 of 52 attempts for 285 yards, but he had two interceptions and lost two fumbles.
Pittsburgh (1-2) is coming off a 29-17 loss at Cleveland on Sept. 22, so the Steelers will have the extra days of rest.
The Steelers are under the guidance this year of veteran QB Mitch Trubisky, who took over the reins from legendary Ben Roethlisberger. Through three games, Trubisky has completed 63 of 103 attempts for 569 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Against Cleveland, Trubisky was 20 of 32 for 207 yards. There are plenty of calls around Pittsburgh for rookie first-rounder and local Pitt star Kenny Pickett to take over the role.
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N.Y. Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Betting Odds
When oddsmakers set their opening lines, most of them gave the Steelers the hook at -3.5. The market at most sportsbooks has moved down to Pittsburgh -3.
Who Has The Ball?
Through the first three games, the Jets have run the ball 57 times for 252 for a good average of 4.4 yards per carry. With that average, it can be assumed that there would be a good balance between the team’s running and passing games.
However, it is not the case. The Jets have attempted 156 passes and completed 92 of them. They have amassed 918 yards passing, but Flacco suffered nine sacks in the process. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur has come under fire for going away from the running game early in the game, even though the Jets are behind on the scoreboard.
Rookie back Breece Hall gained 39 yards on eight carries last week, highlighted by a 16-yard outburst. Hall has shown the ability to break free into the open field, but he hasn’t had more than 10 carries in any of the first three games. The Jets do not have a rushing touchdown.
A Closer Look at Each Team
Flacco is the league leader in attempts (155) and second in completions (91). He also is fifth (901) in passing yards. Wilson will be marking his first start since Dec. 26 against Jacksonville when he set a club record with a 52-yard touchdown run and finished with 91 yards rushing.
Michael Carter leads the Jets with 122 yards rushing, and he also has 15 receptions. Tyler Conklin and rookie Garrett Wilson are tied for the top spot in receptions with 18 apiece, with Wilson having a team-high 214 yards. Wilson has been the bright spot so far this season and had six catches for 60 yards before he left the game after he was shaken up by a hit.
The Jets’ offense is averaging 17.3 points per game (19th in the league), but they have averaged 370 yards of total offense (9th overall per game). Their third down conversion rate is 36.2% (19th), and their red zone offense rate is 50% (T-21st).
Kicker Greg Zuerlein continues to be consistent with six of seven field goals made. A key will be Connor McDermott at left tackle, as he stepped in last week and had some trouble after George Fant went down with a season-ending knee injury.
For the Steelers, Trubisky has completed 60.2% of his passes and has a rushing touchdown.
Najee Harris is the Steelers’ leading rusher with 128 carries. The Steelers have 272 yards rushing with a 4.1 yards per carry average and 90 yards per game.
Diontae Johnson is their main threat with a team-high 21 receptions and 196 receiving yards. Tight end Pat Freiermuth and wide receiver Chase Claypool have provided balance with 11 catches each, and Harris has 10 grabs.
The Steelers rank 28th in passing offense with 182,7 yards per contest and rank 23rd in rushing offense (90). They have allowed eight sacks, their third-down conversion rate is 33.3 (24th), and their red zone conversion rate is 57 % (16th).
Kicker Chris Boswell has converted six of eight field-goal attempts.
Jets linebacker CJ Mosley continues to be the soul of the unit with a team-high 30 tackles. Quinnen Williams has 1.5 of the team’s five sacks, which is an issue.
The Jets rank 15th in total defense, allowing 336.3 yards per game. Their pass defense has improved to 16th (231 yards), while the rush defense is 14th (105.3). They have allowed 27 points per game, which ranks 26th. The Jets’ 3.67 average per carry allowed is the league’s fifth-best mark.
In the red zone, they have scored touchdowns 63.6% of the time (21st), and have three takeaways, while allowing seven giveaways.
Braxton Berrios has been effective, netting a 14-yard average on punt returns and a 23.8-yard average on kickoff returns.
Pittsburgh has permitted an average of 394.7 yards per game, which is 24th in the league.
Former Jaguars’ standout linebacker Myles Jack has a team-high 35 tackles. Fellow linebacker Alex Highsmith has 4.5 of half of the team’s nine sacks. Cornerback Minka Fitzpatrick has two interceptions. The Jets will need to tighten their line against this unit, especially with Fant out of the lineup.
The Steelers allow a 46.9% conversion rate on third downs, and their red zone defense rate is 50%. Pittsburgh has allowed an average of 22 points per game, 252 yards via the air, and 142.7 on the ground.
Series History and Injuries
Pittsburgh leads the overall series 18-6, and the Steelers have won four of the last six meetings. The Jets won the last matchup, 16-10, which was held at MetLife. The last time the Jets won in Pittsburgh was Dec.19, 2010, when Mark Sanchez led them to a 22-17 victory. They have dropped their last three in the Iron City.
Jets Injuries: The Jets placed Fant on the IR with a knee injury. Edge rusher John Franklin-Myers (toe), and cornerback Brandin Echols (hamstring) will play.
Steelers Injuries: Cornerback Hakello Witherspoon (hamstring ) is out. Fitzpatrick (concussion) and offensive lineman Kevon Dotson (ankle) will play.
Prediction: It’s hard to say how Zach Wilson will respond, and the Jets need to get their running game going and solve some secondary issues on deep balls. The Jets also will need to pressure Trubisky to be successful. I like the Steelers here giving the 3.5 points in a 27-20 victory.
Season record: 2-1
AP Photo/Steve Luciano