What can keep New York Jets fans entertained on this Jets-free Sunday?
The bye week represents a part of the New York Jets’ schedule that, for fans, has unfortunately tended to be more about peace than longing.
This season, especially, the off-week couldn’t have come at a better time.
With an overthinking rookie quarterback and an inexperienced coaching staff, a week free of game preparation could do wonders for everybody.
Still, despite no Jets football on television to enlighten (or ruin?) everyone’s Sunday, there’s plenty to watch around the league.
In fact, there are plenty of Jets-related storylines in a few of this week’s games. From Geno Smith and Sam Darnold to a couple of interesting divisional rivals’ games, Jets fans definitely won’t get bored this Sunday.
The following four games have Jets’ connections and will certainly be interesting to watch:
Miami Dolphins @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 9:30 a.m. ET, London
This week’s London game has plenty of Jets’ related interesting storylines.
First, the obvious one: who are these Dolphins? Are they as bad as their record indicates?
With Tua Tagovailoa returning to the field, Miami has a chance to snap a four-game losing streak and get back on track in the AFC wild-card race.
Nonetheless, if Miami loses to Jacksonville, Jets’ fans might look at the two remaining games against the Dolphins differently from then on.
Apart from that, the quarterback duel is also an interesting one.
As long as Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson play, comparison between the two will be inevitable. That’s just part of human nature.
So, every chance to watch Trevor Lawrence play in a prime-time game is a good one to evaluate where the competition is at.
Who’s ahead: Trevor or Zach?
It’s pointless to ask that question now, but everyone will in their heads.
For Tua Tagovailoa, many questions surround the Dolphins’ sophomore quarterback. Is he a true NFL franchise quarterback? Can he elevate those around him?
Tua is under a lot of pressure and this would be a nice game to silence his doubters. For Jets fans, it’s always good to know a bit more about a division-rival quarterback.
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Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers – 1 p.m. ET, Charlotte
The storyline for this 1 p.m. game is obvious: Sam Darnold.
After starting hot and winning the first three games, the former Jets’ quarterback lost his last two while committing five turnovers.
The Panthers’ offense is badly missing all-pro running back Christian McCaffrey, who has missed the last two games and was placed on injured reserve a day before this week’s contest. Darnold is under pressure to perform.
Sam has a chance to get back on track, at home, against a good Vikings team that is better than their 2-3 record indicates.
A loss, though, would hurt the Panthers’ chances of winning the NFC South now that the Bucs are sitting at 5-1.
This game also impacts the Jets’ draft future now that New York owns the Panthers’ second and fourth-round picks in the 2022 NFL draft.
Besides checking in on Sam Darnold and doing their own silent judgment of the trade that sent him to Carolina, Jets fans can root for a Panthers’ loss to improve New York’s draft position.
One way or the other, watching the Darnold-coaster is always fun.
Dallas Cowboys @ New England Patriots – 4:25 p.m. ET, Foxborough
The Patriots are underdogs at home against the Dallas Cowboys. It’s “America’s Game of the Week,’’ as Fox Sports labels it.
This game is worth watching because it’s going to be a prime opportunity for Jets fans to watch the Patriots get beat badly at their place. That was unimaginable during Brady’s days, but it’s very palpable now.
The Cowboys are arguably the hottest team in the league, with quarterback Dak Prescott playing the best football of his career.
New England, on the other hand, has a suspect defense and an offense that lives on runs and check downs. It’s the anti-2021 offense, one could say.
Still, it’s not smart to count Bill Belichick out. The man seems to always have the perfect plan for every occasion. I wouldn’t be shocked if New England finds a way to win this one.
Anyway, there’s nothing better in a bye week than watching the Patriots getting beat at home. There’s a possibility that it happens, and it’s what Jets fans should root for.
Seattle Seahawks @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:20 p.m. ET, Pittsburgh
The game with possibly the most interesting storyline of the week: Geno Smith is back.
Smith, a former second-round pick of the Jets, has not started in the league since 2017 when he snapped Eli Manning’s streak of consecutive starts for the Giants.
Now, with Russell Wilson placed on injured reserve, Geno will probably be Seattle’s starter for at least the next three weeks – which will be key to deciding the team’s future.
Playing in the highly competitive NFC West, Seattle can’t afford to fall behind.
The Rams and Cardinals look unstoppable. A three-game losing streak leading to a 2-6 start could mean the end for the Seahawks’ postseason dreams.
It’s not a reach to say that Geno Smith is once again deciding the Jets’ future:
The proof that Jets fandom always comes full circle…
Sam Darnold and Geno Smith will decide the slot of the Jets' extra first and second round picks.
Geno and Sam deciding our future.
But not the way we thought they would at first.
— Vitor (@VitorPaivaM) October 16, 2021
The Jets own Seattle’s 2022 first-round pick courtesy of the Jamal Adams trade, so rooting against the Seahawks will be a weekly endeavor for Jets fans throughout the season.
Besides the obvious draft impact, it will be nice to see Smith back in action. His 2013 rookie season was a fun one for Jets fans, with an overachieving team playing their hearts out for a rumored-to-be-fired head coach.
Also, Smith is very complimentary of his time with the Jets anytime he gets the chance to talk about it.
Rooting for a good game by Smith and a Seattle loss seems to be the template.