Sam Darnold, Jimmy Garoppolo
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers each look to pick up their first win of the season in Week 2 at MetLife Stadium.

It doesn’t get any easier for the New York Jets. First came the Buffalo Bills—a game that sent the Jets to the bottom of most league power rankings. Now, in travels a (possibly) motivated San Francisco 49ers team that lost its opener to the Arizona Cardinals.

Where, When

  • New York Jets (0-1)
  • San Francisco 49ers (0-1)
  • MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
  • Week 2, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

The Jets open up their home season against the defending NFC champs. No fans will attend this one—as is the case for so many teams housed in states that aren’t allowing home attendance.

New York will wear the all-white uniform to open up MetLife in 2020.

Odds (Sportsbook)

  • Money line: 49ers -300 (bet $300, win $100) | Jets +250 (Bet $100, win $250)
  • Against the spread/ATS: 49ers -7 (-110) | Jets +7 (-110)
  • Over/Under: 42 (O: -110, U: -110)

The Jets enter the contest as seven-point home dogs. Interestingly, the matchup isn’t a bad one for Adam Gase’s squad.

Weak at cornerback, the Jets shouldn’t feat the Niners receivers too much. Good against the run, that’s San Fran’s bread and butter. Offensively, the Niners defensive backfield isn’t that great, which could bode well for Sam Darnold and the Jets weapons. Of course, it’s the Niners’ deadly pass rush that seems to be the issue against this new Jets O-line.

Injury Report

Some have dubbed this the Injury Bowl due to the teams’ overall health. New York will be without Jamison Crowder whose hamstring won’t allow him to suit up. This means Braxton Berrios‘s role suddenly becomes integral.

For the Niners, stud tight end George Kittle will also miss this one. He sustained a sprained knee against the Cards.

Joe Flacco will miss his second-straight which means Mike White will serve as the backup quarterback. Tarell Basham, La’Mical Perine and Avery Williamson remain questionable.

Perine’s presence is a big deal. With Le’Veon Bell on the shelf, Gase and Darnold could really use that youth and energy in the backfield.

For the Niners, cornerback Jason Verrett will also miss the contest due to a hamstring and edge rusher Dee Ford comes in as questionable with a neck injury.

Keys to the Game

Neutralizing the Niners’ Pass Rush:

It’s the top key for this matchup. Mekhi Becton, George Fant and the rest of the Jets’ five-man unit must find a way to control Nick Bosa and the Niners’ excellent pass rush. Ford’s health will be a key, but neutralizing this four-man rush will remain key whether or not he plays.

Force Jimmy G into Action:

Defensively, it’s pretty simple: stop the run and force Jimmy Garoppolo into substantial action. Take chances early and see if Garoppolo and the Niners’ weapons can beat the Jets corners one-on-one outside. If they can, early, Gregg Williams will tip his cap and adjust from there.

The worst thing that could happen defensively is the Niners running the ball at-will early no matter the Jets’ defensive look.

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Sam Darnold’s Play:

Sometimes it just comes down to the overall play on the field. Sam Darnold was terrible last Sunday. There’s no way around that fact. Adam Gase should try to get him on the run early and ensure that his confidence builds early. (Sure, a legitimate rushing game is needed to get the quarterback involved in designed rollouts, sprint-outs, etc., but maybe the Niners overplay the run early, and if so, Gase should take advantage.)

Prediction

  • New York Jets 20, San Francisco 49ers 23

I’ll give the Jets the benefit of the doubt here. Expect them to come out with a better overall look and hang in there all game. But in the end, the Niners’ talent will just make one or two more crucial plays.


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