Zach Wilson and Mac Jones headline a New York Jets-New England Patriots Week 2 matchup
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—It’s Zach Wilson time, again, after his impressive debut against the Carolina Panthers in the face of near-impossible odds—especially in the first half. What makes Week 2 of the New York Jets‘ 2021 NFL schedule is that it’s also another rookie’s time.
His name is Mac Jones, and he’s coming off an impressive NFL debut as well.
So, both 0-1 teams enter Week 2 in search of their first victory, while the Buffalo Bills also seek win No. 1 in Miami when they take on the first place Phins.
- New York Jets (0-1)
- New England Patriots (0-1)
- NFL, Week 2, Sunday, Sept. 18, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
- MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
It’s your classic 1 p.m. ET East Rutherford, NJ game for Week 2. As per the AFC East standings, the winner of the contest could be tied atop the division if the Bills defeat the Dolphins (creating a three-way 1-1 tie with the Jets-Pats loser falling to 0-2).
Of course, Robert Saleh and the new coaching staff seek that first victory, whereas Belichick and company crave their first victory with the new face of the franchise at quarterback.
New York will wear its all-white uniforms, as per usual, for the regular-season home-opener.
Uniform forecast for Sunday: ICY ❄️❄️❄️ pic.twitter.com/Vr3dtVscB1
— New York Jets (@nyjets) September 17, 2021
— New York Jets (@nyjets) September 18, 2021
The Patriots enter the contest holding a 69-54-1 advantage over the Jets all time. The previously mentioned Belichick and Tom Brady did a lot to alter the all-time outlook over the last two decades.
After Sept. 3, 2001—the Mo Lewis-Drew Bledsoe affair—New England has won 33 of the last 41 matchups (33-8 record). Despite Brady’s absence a year ago, the Patriots have taken the last 10 games.
Odds (FanDuel Sportsbook)
- Spread: Jets +6 (-114), Patriots -6 (-106)
- Moneyline: Jets +210, Patriots -255
- Over/Under: 42.5 (O: -115, U: -105)
FanDuel Sportsbook has settled on a six-point spread. Considering the home team is usually granted about three points, the oddsmakers have it at around nine points heading into Sunday.
New York Jets
- Jamien Sherwood (LB): Doubtful
- Chuma Edoga (T): Questionable
- Keelan Cole (WR): Questionable
- Jamison Crowder (WR): Questionable
- Isaiah Dunn (CB): Questionable
Obviously, Mekhi Becton is out for this one as he recovers from a dislocated kneecap. The other usual suspects on IR or PUP are also out: Jarrad Davis, Ashtyn Davis, Blake Cashman, Braden Mann and others.
Rookie Jamien Sherwood is listed as doubtful and isn’t expected to play. Both Keelan Cole and Jamison Crowder are expected to play after missing Week 1.
New England Patriots
- Quinn Nordin (K): Out
- Kyle Van Noy (LB): Out
- Trent Brown (T): Questionable (downgraded to out)
- Yodny Cojuste (T): Questionable
- Ronnie Perkins (LB): Questionable
- Jonnu Smith (TE): Questionable
Stephon Gilmore remains on the PUP list and won’t return until at least midseason. Nonetheless, Belichick’s defense played well against Tua Tagovailoa, 16 of 27 for 202 yards and a touchdown to an interception.
Offensive tackle Trent Brown will miss the game. New England downgraded him to out on Saturday.
Keys to the Game
Force Mac Jones to win the game
Josh McDaniels ran the ball 30 times against the Dolphins, while Mac Jones aired it out 39. Anything they can do to keep it balanced for the rookie quarterback, they’ll continue to do moving forward.
Moreover, the Pats always love to run the football, even in the Brady era.
Damien Harris went for an even 100 yards on 23 carries (4.35 yards per carry). James White carried it four times for 12 yards and caught six balls for 49 yards.
Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich have to do a better job of stopping the run this week. Against Carolina, the run defense was surprisingly weak, especially inside. As the game got deeper, however, Foley Fatukasi and company stepped it up.
The Jets have to top the run and force Jones to beat them through the air.
Take what the defense gives you
The Patriots carry the league’s fifth-best defense into the game through one week. New England outgained Miami by a total of 393 yards to 259. Belichick’s defense played tremendously in the season-opener.
While Miami’s offense wasn’t hitting on all cylinders in New England, Mike LaFleur needs to capitalize on the film.
The Jets left a lot of yards and points on the table in Carolina—especially in the first quarter. LaFleur understandably looked to establish the run, as it’s the nucleus of his scheme. The problem is he ran into loaded boxes with the Panthers’ safeties driving down and the linebackers on their toes.
The rushing attack went nowhere and balance was never reached.
Whatever Belichick does to Wilson pre-snap, LaFleur and the Jets offense should take what’s given to them. Force the Pats defense to adjust first and move on from there.
- New York Jets 26, New England Patriots 30
Expect a competitive game yet another loss. Although Becton will miss the game, the Jets’ offensive line played much better when Morgan Moses manned down the right side and George Fant anchored the blindside.
New York’s offensive line should play a lot better, and Van Noy’s absence will aid in that performance. Wilson should have a big game with Elijah Moore breaking out for a touchdown and close to a hundred yards.
On the other side of the coin, I don’t expect the Jets defense to play well. A better quarterback would have dropped 37 on New York’s defense in Week 1.
The myriad of injuries—especially now at safety with Lamarcus Joyner out—hurt big time. How Marcus Maye’s tag-team partner plays in relief will play a key role.
Much like Wilson, Jones should put forth a respectable box score (a couple of touchdowns, 225 yards or so with an interception). But the biggest difference will come on the ground, as Damien Harris and rookie Rhomondre Stevenson should have big games.
The Jets will make it close and have a shot to win late in the fourth quarter, but the four-point lead will prove too much.
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