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New York Jets at Denver Broncos, Week 5 preview: Wilson v Wilson

New York Jets at Denver Broncos, Week 5 Preview, Zach Wilson, Russell Wilson
New York Jets at Denver Broncos, Week 5 Preview, Zach Wilson, Russell Wilson (Getty Images)

Week 5 is Zach Wilson’s consistency test in Denver

Well, how about that?

Just a couple of days after I called out the New York Jets for playing “scared football,” Robert Saleh‘s squad put forth an aggressive and inspiring effort against Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs.

Finally, the Jets’ gameplan featured the quarterback as opposed to hiding him and thus relying on the defense. Finally, Saleh and company allowed young Zach Wilson to showcase his talents on first and second down.

Right from the jump, Nathaniel Hackett’s game plan was evident. More early-down receiver screens via Garrett Wilson and play-action efforts when the opposing defense is entirely on its toes too much, unfolded in glorious fashion.

Although New York couldn’t quite get the job done in the end—a torturous 23-30 loss to the Chiefs—the Jets played football in a way that welcomes them to the rest of the modern-thinking category.

The big question now, as we enter NFL Week 5, is this: Can Zach Wilson and the New York Jets keep it rolling?

Russell Wilson and the 1-3 Denver Broncos stand in their way, as the young Jets return to their 2022 house of horrors—Empower Field at Mile High Stadium—where Breece Hall and Alijah Vera-Tucker were both lost for the year a season ago.

New York Jets at Denver Broncos, Week 5 Preview, Zach Wilson, Russell Wilson
New York Jets at Denver Broncos, Week 5 Preview, Zach Wilson, Russell Wilson (Getty Images)

Jets at Broncos game info

  • New York Jets (1-3)
  • Denver Broncos (1-3)
  • NFL, Week 5, Oct. 8, 2023, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
  • Empower Field at Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO

The New York Jets and Denver Broncos matchup is slated to come your way at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, from Empower Field at Mile High Stadium. On the call will be Andrew Catalon, Matt Ryan, and Joe Benigno’s good buddy, Tiki Barber.

Both teams enter Week 5 at a lowly 1-3. Sean Payton’s squad nearly fell to 0-4 last week, after falling behind to the Chicago Bears in a big way. However, they overcame a tremendous 21-point deficit on the road, in Chicago.

Meanwhile, the Jets look to right the ship after dropping the last three games.

The worst piece of the Week 5 puzzle comes down to the team’s look. The Jets will wear their white-on-white modern uniforms this Sunday:

There isn’t a Jets fan alive who prefers the modern look over the 1980s-inspired classics that were on display in Week 1 against Buffalo and Week 4 against Kansas City.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much the Jets can do until they are allowed to switch the primary set again. Since there’s a five-year minimum, not until 2024 can Woody Johnson and company pull the trigger.

Hopefully, by this time next year, the 2024 Aaron Rodgers-led Jets will proudly wear the 1980s-inspired classic uniforms full-time. (This is true since the 2019 season marked the Jets’ changing their primary uniforms to the current set.)

Jets at Broncos history

  • The Broncos lead the all-time series 22-17-1

Denver currently leads the competitive all-time series against New York, 22-17-1. The two storied and original AFL franchises showcase a history that stretches back to 1960 when it featured the New York Titans and Denver Broncos.

The Jets’ organization captured the first three meetings, but John Elway’s presence is where things really took a turn.

New York has tasted victory just six times in the last 18 meetings, dating back to 1992. And yes, one of these games was the dreaded 1998 AFC championship game during the Bill Parcells era, when all of Jets fandom thought the Super Bowl was on the horizon after Curtis Martin made it 10 nothing shortly after a Blake Spence blocked punt near the goal line.

“Oh the pain,” Joe B.

Although the Broncos have won five of the last seven, the Jets captured the most recent one. As previously mentioned, it came last year, at Mile High, in a 16-9 bore of a victory that saw Breece Hall and Alijah Vera-Tucker hit the shelf for the entire campaign.

Jets at Broncos odds (FanDuel Sportsbook)

  • Spread: Jets +2.5 (-110), Broncos -2.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Jets +116, Broncos -136
  • Over/Under: 43.5 (O: -110, U: -110)

The rule of thumb for oddsmakers is that the NFL home team generally receives three fantastical points on the spread. Therefore, the road Jets getting 2.5 points actually favors them in the minds of Vegas.

Nonetheless, Saleh’s team is still a 2.5-point road underdog in a city that loves its professional football.

Take note of the 43.5-point over-under total, which can easily be reached if the aggressive Zach Wilson-led Jets offense continues to show face from snap No. 1 on Sunday.

Only if and/or when the team proves its consistency and starts racking up victories, will the New York Jets odds take a turn for the prettier.

Jets at Broncos injury report

The New York Jets at Denver Broncos injury report is a key one this week.

New York Jets at Denver Broncos, 2023 Week 5, Final Injury Report
New York Jets at Denver Broncos, 2023 Week 5, Final Injury Report (NYJ Communications)

New York Jets

  • Brandin Echols (CB): Hamstring (Out)
  • D.J. Reed (CB): Concussion (Out)
  • Billy Turner (OL): Toe (Questionable)
  • Samuel Eguavoen (LB): Ankle (Questionable)
  • Jarrick Bernard-Converse (S): Foot (Questionable)
  • Carter Warren (OT): Shoulder (Questionable)
  • Tony Adams (S): Hamstring (Will Play)
  • Mekhi Becton (OT): Knee (Will Play)
  • Wes Schweitzer (OL): Concussion (Will Play)

The Jets will be down two cornerbacks against the Broncos. Both D.J. Reed (concussion) and Brandin Echols (hamstring) are out.

This means that Michael Carter II will have to play outside when Sean Payton rolls with 21, 12, 13, or heavier personnel. The real question comes when Denver goes with 11 or lighter personnel.

Expect to see Michael Carter II back in the slot, where he excels, with Bryce Hall on the outside, opposite Sauce Gardner. The other package will feature Michael Carter II on the outside with returning safety Tony Adams in the slot—where his collegiate cornerback experience comes into play.

Denver Broncos

  • Baron Browning (OLB): Knee (Out)
  • Lloyd Cushenberry III (C): Quad (Questionable)
  • Mike Purcell (DT): Ribs (Questionable)
  • Javonte Williams (RB): Quad (Questionable)
  • Frank Clark (OLB): Hip (Will Play)
  • Josey Jewell (ILB): Hip (Will Play)
  • Jerry Jeudy (WR): Knee (Will Play)
  • Justin Simmons (S): Hip (Will Play)

For Denver, the injury report looks rather similar yet not nearly as detrimental.

Outside linebacker Baron Browning (knee) is designated as out, whereas Lloyd Chushenberrry II (quad), Mike Purcell (ribs), and Javonte Williams (quad) are questionable.

Zach Wilson will have to pay close attention to Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons all day, whose recent hip injury isn’t serious enough to keep him sidelined.

Jets’ keys to victory

Offense: Continue the downfield attack

The New York Jets’ offensive key against the Denver Broncos is rather simple: Just keep attacking.

As was seen against Kansas City, Zach Wilson and the Jets’ offense did not mess around. When the Chiefs played aggressively on early downs, the Jets attacked downfield. When they provided a bit more cushion, the Jets then had no problem taking the underneath game and attempting to get the rushing attack going.

The next step in his new-found aggressive evolution is getting Breece Hall and the rushing game going. With the Jets’ offensive line now stabilized, and Zach Wilson not fearing the downfield passing attack, it’s probable that Breece Hall has a big-time game in Denver.

Defense: Keep it structured

Like Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson can still get it done with his legs when need be. Couple that with the idea that Big Nickel could be used frequently (three safeties and two cornerbacks), and Jeff Ulbrich could be prepared to trot out a hefty dose of zone coverage.

Therefore, keeping the zone structure in a way that limits Russell Wilson’s out-of-structure legs is imperative.

Jets at Broncos prediction

  • New York Jets 27, Denver Broncos 16

I have to go with the New York Jets in this one, 27-16, over the Denver Broncos.

Yes, Sean Payton’s unkind words regarding Nathaniel Hackett back in training camp add plenty of fuel to this fire, but this one will be decided elsewhere.

A major key for the Jets will be their willingness to allow Zach Wilson a modern game-plan shot even when he makes a mistake. And make no doubt about it, he will make plenty of mistakes this season.

In fact, I expect an early-game mistake from Wilson in this one. But how Robert Saleh’s in-game vision responds to that mistake will make a world of difference.

If he remains firm in his allowing the offense to play as great a part in the feel of the contest as his defense, the New York Jets will prevail.

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Jim Green
Jim Green
7 months ago

Zach needs to be consistent going forward … Let’s GO

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