Zach Wilson returns with the weight of the world on his shoulders
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—Everybody knows the rules: When the music hits stop, your booty must plop. For you Martians new to this planet, we’re of course referring to the rules of musical chairs.
Kids, adults and those in between have partaken in this age-old custom for years on end, and it’s led to wholesome fun and YouTube clip hilarity aplenty. Even New York Jets quarterbacks are familiar with this brilliant-yet-oh-so-annoying activity.
Joe Flacco kickstarted the 2022 NFL season as the starting quarterback, leading the Jets to a 1-2 record over the first three games. Young Zach Wilson returned from a preseason knee injury to then go 5-2 over the next seven.
If that was not enough, head coach Robert Saleh turned to Mike “Something” White on the heels of the squad’s troubling 10-3 loss to Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots up in Foxborough several weeks ago.
One would think three different starting quarterbacks is a bit much for any potential NFL playoff team, but these Jets thought the idea was too tame—for the birds, perhaps. Courtesy of Mike White’s ribs injury sustained in the team’s 20-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills last week, Mr. Wilson is back in the saddle.
How the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft responds to this particular challenge may determine the 2022 New York Jets’ tournament fate.
Jets vs. Lions game info
- New York Jets (7-6)
- Detroit Lions (6-7)
- NFL, Week 15, Dec. 18, 2022, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
- MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
The New York Jets and Detroit Lions are slated to kick off from MetLife Stadium at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday. Yet again—as they have done often this season—the CBS broad team of Ian Eagle and Charles Davis will be on the call.
Interestingly, New York will wear its all-green uniforms for this pivotal matchup.
FEELS GOOD TO BE HOME. pic.twitter.com/7Ur9DuXTuX
— New York Jets (@nyjets) December 17, 2022
Jets vs. Lions history
- The all-time series is tied 7-7
The Detroit Lions represent one of the rare all-time series splits in active New York Jets’ history. But it always has not been that way.
Heading into the November 2002 matchup with Herm Edwards leading the charge, Detroit held a solid 6-3 all-time advantage. Starting in 2002, however, the Jets have since won four of five matchups.
The most recent contest resulted in a convincing 48-17 Jets victory to open up the 2018 season in Detroit. Fans are extraordinarily familiar with this one as it was Sam Darnold’s first career game.
Detroit’s last win came in 2014 when Matthew Stafford’s 293 yards and two touchdowns knocked off the Jets, 24-17, in New Jersey.
Jets vs. Lions odds (FanDuel Sportsbook)
- Spread: Jets -1 (-106), Lions +1 (-114)
- Moneyline: Jets -110, Lions -106
- Over/Under: 43.5 (O: -108, U: -112)
The oddsmakers did not really know how to play this one. Considering the Lions have won two straight and five of their last six, it makes total sense that this line is near to a pick ’em.
New York’s +1 mark at home means that Vegas believes in Detroit as the favorites at a neutral site (home field is usually worth three points).
Interestingly, the over-under seems a bit lower than some pundits would have expected. Detroit’s fifth-best scoring offense (26.8 points scored per game) and second-worst scoring defense (26.7 points allowed per game) usually jack up the over-under total for the week. But the Jets, representing a contrasting style of team, balances that idea out this week.
Jets vs. Lions injury report
New York Jets
- Corey Davis (Concussion): Out
- Brandin Echols (Hip): Out
- Mike White (Ribs): Out
- Quinnen Williams (Calf): Questionable
- Lamarcus Joyner (Hip): Questionable
The week started with Mike White seemingly ready to roll for this one. As practice continued into Thursday, however, the Jets had to make their move, as White could not get the necessary clearance for contact.
We already knew Corey Davis (concussion) and Brandin Echols (hip) were due to miss the game, but safety Lamarcus Joyner is a late addition to the injury report. He’s dealing with a hip injury that has him officially listed as questionable.
Other than Zach Wilson’s play, perhaps the biggest question mark is Quinnen Williams’s status. Injured and unable to return in Buffalo this past Sunday, Williams has not practiced all week and is listed as questionable.
I’d be surprised if the man the kids call Big Q suits up for New York.
- Kayode Awosika (Ankle): Out
- Derrick Barnes (Knee): Out
- Michael Brockers (Illness): Doubtful
- Jason Cabinda (Ankle): Questionable
- Mike Hughes (Illness): Questionable
- Aidan Hutchinson (Illness): Questionable
- Frank Ragnow (Foot): Questionable
Kayode Awosika (ankle) and Derrick Barnes (knee) are out via traditional injuries, but the Detroit Lions’ woes mainly deal with a nagging illness moving from player to player.
Michael Brockers (doubtful), Mike Hughes (questionable) and stud rookie Aidan Hutchinson (questionable) head into this one with questions surrounding an illness that’s spread in the locker room.
Jets vs. Lions prediction
- New York Jets 31, Detroit Lions 30
This one is as tough a game to pick as any this season. Conventional wisdom would have the Detroit Lions as the easy answer to emerge victorious—especially with a rusty and questionable Zach Wilson returning—but Dan Campbell’s team on the road coupled with an illness majorly fogs things up in Week 15.
Both teams need this game en route to playoff aspirations. Both teams are on the come-up as young NFL squads. Both teams also have excellent claims as to why they will win this football affair.
It’s a toss-up, but I’ll roll with the Jets for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, this is a tremendous spot for Zach Wilson, whose key to success deals directly with his mindset. Everything about Wilson’s play starts and ends with his mind: Is he confident and free or unconfident and frozen?
In his last appearance, Wilson looked confident against the Pats early. He then sailed one over Tyler Conklin’s head, for which safety Devin McCourty dropped. From that moment on, No. 2 played a brand of quarterback that has no chance of succeeding in this sport.
Wilson must find a way to play confidently, freely and without fear of turning the ball over, and he has a chance to do so in his return from a much-needed break while facing a porous defense at home.
Secondly, the Lions are dealing with an illness that oftentimes devastates a team’s chances in the next game. Just because three guys are on the injury report with an illness designation, does not mean everybody else has steered clear of the virus.
The dreaded “illness” is an extremely underrated handicap for football teams, and it could burn Detroit this week, especially on the road (where they are not nearly the same team they are at home).
The one thing I’ll say confidently is this: Yes, expect this game to hit the 43.5 over-under number. Without Quinnen Williams and Brandin Echols, this Jets defense could have some issues against this high-powered Lions offense.
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