The NY Jets were hit with a blow when it was revealed quarterback Zach Wilson — recovering from a meniscus tear in the preseason — would not be available to play until week 4 at the earliest. Joe Flacco now takes the helm, with the former Super Bowl MVP to face his former team in week 1. Wilson’s injury news is a hit but shouldn’t derail the Jets season. GM Joe Douglas has amassed an underrated collection of talent. A mix of young blue-chippers (Sauce Gardner, Elijah Moore, and Garett Wilson) and players in their prime years (Carl Lawson, D.J. Reed) have turned the Jets into a sleeper playoff contender.
Nonetheless, the Jets must now navigate the first month of the season without their young quarterback and hope that a 37-year-old Flacco can right the ship. Gang green faced an uphill climb to the postseason even with a healthy Wilson. Last year’s number 2 pick struggled during his rookie campaign. The young gun slinger had to acclimate to the structure of running an NFL offense. Consequently, the offense often looked better with Flacco and Mike White at the helm, who are both prototypical pocket-passers. The team is counting on Wilson’s development and until he returns the Jets will have to make due.
Furthermore, the Jets don’t play many bad teams in 2022. Their strength of schedule is the 17th hardest in the league, but matchups against the Jaguars, Lions, Seahawks and Bears are the only rebuilding teams on their schedule. In a long regular season, most coaches will tell the team to divide the schedule into 4-game quadrants (save for the extra game) and get the best possible record from each quarter.
Vs Ravens, @ Browns, vs Bengals, @ Steelers
The NY Jets begin the 2022 season alternating home and away games against AFC north opponents. One of the toughest divisions in football, they’re likely to be underdogs in each of their opening four contests. The only reprieve being that their stiffest quarterback competition (Lamar Jackson and Joe Borrow), will come at home, while they face 2021 backups Jacoby Brisset and Mitch Trubisky on the road.
Ultimately, matchups against Jackson and Burrow might prove too much for a still young and susceptible defense. Lamar Jackson comes into week 1 motivated, after not coming to terms wit the Ravens on a long-term extension. Moreover, the reigning AFC champion Bengals and their high-powered offense will also challenge the Jets brand new secondary. Gang green will need to capitalize on matchups against the Browns and Steelers to kick-start their season. Yet, despite their downturn at quarterback, both teams boast potent defenses and talented overall rosters.
Record after first 4 games: 1-3
Vs Dolphins, @ Packers, @ Broncos, vs Patriots
The next four games see the Jets with two road matchups against Super Bowl contenders sandwiched between two home divisional games. Away games against the Packers and Broncos seem like too big of a mountain for the Jets to climb. However, a Jet team that went 0-6 against AFC east last year, will look to take advantage of a questionable Tua Tagovailoa and a Patriots team that no longer puts fear in opponents, especially after losing All-Pro corner, J.C. Jackson. The victory would be the Jets first against the Patriots since an overtime victory in 2015. Gang green has lost 12 consecutive games to their divisional foes.
Record in the next 4 games: 2-2
Overall record: 3-5
Vs Bills, Bye Week, @ Patriots, Vs Bears, @ Vikings
The NY Jets begin the second half of the season with two pivotal divisional games in-between their bye week. A home matchup with the Bills could see an opportune Jets team earn their first victory against the western, New York outfit since week 1 of 2019, as the Bills will come into their week 9 matchup on the heels of potential slugfests with the Chiefs and Packers. The Jets then face the Patriots for the second time in a month after their bye-week. Although beating Bill Belichick twice in one season is no easy feat, the Jets offense should be clicking on all cylinders by week 11, allowing them to pick up their first regular season sweep of the Patriots since 2000. The lowly Bears come to the meadowlands next, which should see the Jets take care of business. Gang green then squanders the opportunity at a perfect month with a loss away to the Vikings.
Record in next 4 games: 3-1
Overall record: 6-6
@ Bills, vs Lion, vs Jaguars, vs Seahawks, @ Dolphins
The season’s stretch run favorably plays into the hands of the NY Jets. While they battle tough divisional foes in weeks 14 and 18, weeks 15-17 will see them host a trio of rebuilding teams at the meadowlands. The Jets shouldn’t leave any semblance of playoff hopes up to chance, which should result in three home victories. Although losses against either the Bills or Dolphins would leave gang green under 10 wins, which might not be enough for a wild card spot in a loaded AFC conference.
Record in next 5 fames: 3-2
Overall record: 9-8
All-in-all, expect the Jets to make incremental improvements on both sides of the ball. An improved offense behind a more asserted Zach Wilson and a healthier defense with some new talent could see gang green make a run at the playoffs. Under the current circumstances, it’s fair to say the season begins once Wilson returns, the Jets won’t know their true ceiling until the BYU product gets back on the field. And since the AFC has overtaken the NFC as the dominant conference, every win matters.
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