Who Ya Got Wednesday: New York Jets at New England Patriots

John Franklin-Myers, jets

Can the New York Jets kick off their post-bye slate on the right note? ESM’s experts of green endeavors share their thoughts.

  • What: New York Jets (1-4) @ New England Patriots (2-4)
  • Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
  • When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET
  • Watch: CBS
zach wilson, jets

Geoff Magliocchetti

Though one of the quieter games of a relatively sparse NFL Sunday (six teams are taking Week 6 off), Sunday’s AFC East divisional showdown between the Jets and Patriots showcase (an admittedly uglier case of) the unstoppable force meeting an immoveable object trope.

The Jets are coming out of a bye hoping to cling to the momentum of a decent second half against Atlanta in London, one that would’ve been flawless from a defensive perspective if not for a crucial touchdown drive allowed in the dying stages. Their hosts, the developing New England Patriots, have a prime opportunity to feast: they sandwiched an unfashionable win over the lowly Texans with highly respectable losing efforts against the NFC’s finest (Tampa Bay and Dallas). It’s certainly not the heights fans of the Flying Elvises are used to after they were spoiled by Tom Brady and Co. for nearly two decades, but it’s a sign that the franchise is heading in the right direction after last season’s meandering 7-9 effort.

Whether it’s fair or not, both the Jets and Patriots’ progress in their respective rebuilds, embarked upon under the supervision of a Western New York overlord, is going to be judged solely upon the performances of their rookie quarterbacks. Zach Wilson has shown flashes of brilliance but the British-based effort against the Falcons was undoubtedly a step backward. Mac Jones, on the other hand, has steadily improved with each passing (pun intended) week. The results have yet to make themselves known in the win column, but the proof is in the pudding of freshman statistics: the Alabama alum has found familiar footing, as he’s the top-ranked first-year passer in completion rate, yardage, rating, and touchdown passes. Turnovers have been a problem, but the Jets (the only team in the NFL without an interception) have done little to inspire the idea that they’re capable of forcing consistent, momentum-shifting turnovers.

There will be plenty of opportunities for the Jets to grow as they resume play after their week off. But there still isn’t a lot of evidence that they’re ready to compete with the middling Patriots. Despite a resilient defensive effort, they were soundly beaten by three possessions in the MetLife Stadium portion of the yearly series. The Foxboro affair should be closer…surely Wilson can’t throw four first-half interceptions again…but the Patriots have only gotten better since that September showdown.

The Patriots’ stranglehold of supremacy over their rivalry with the Jets is one of the final remnants of their dynasty; as they slowly mount a march toward another, don’t expect that to dissipate.

Patriots 27, Jets 16

John Franklin-Myers, jets

Dylan Price

This week the Jets travel to New England for their second matchup with the Patriots. The Patriots are coming off a tightly contested battle against the Cowboys this past weekend, one that ended in a heartbreaking overtime defeat. Mac Jones played a good game against America’s team going 15-for-21 for 229 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Jones made some sloppy plays, but that’s to be expected from a rookie thrower. The killer for the Patriots was Bill Belichick getting outcoached by Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys: Belichick was too reluctant to take chances and called too conservative of a game, calls that ultimately cost his team a high-profile win.

Meanwhile, the Jets are coming off a bye and remain 1-4, but the team went into its week off on a sour note: Just when everything was thought to be clicking after Week 4 win over Tennessee, they lost in London to the Falcons.

These are two teams looking to regain some semblance of momentum. In the last meeting, Belichick had Zach Wilson looking like Nathan Peterman. I think Wilson performs better after having extra time to prepare, and the defense likely does well. But the Patriots will likely still force the Jets to shoot themselves in the foot, so I reluctantly go with New England to win this one.

Patriots 23, Jets 10

michael carter, jets

Brendan Carpenter

The Jets have had more than enough time to decompress from their subpar trip to London as they’re coming off of a bye week. They now have to travel to Foxboro to face the Patriots for the second time this season.

This could be a game where both offenses struggle and the defenses prevail. The Patriots don’t have an explosive offense and the Jets offense is…inconsistent, to say the least. To their credit, the unit has been playing somewhat better over their past few games.

If neither offense gets in a groove early, this is going to be a tight, low-scoring game. If that’s the case, homefield will play a large enough role for the Patriots to sweep the season series, no matter how much it pains me to say.

Patriots 17, Jets 14

Best of the Rest

MagliocchettiPriceCarpenter
Denver @ Cleveland (Thu.)BroncosBroncosBroncos
Atlanta @ MiamiFalconsDolphinsFalcons
Carolina @ NY GiantsPanthersPanthersPanthers
Cincinnati @ BaltimoreRavensRavensBengals
Kansas City @ TennesseeChiefsChiefsChiefs
Washington @ Green BayPackersPackersPackers
Detroit @ LA RamsRamsRamsRams
Philadelphia @ Las VegasRaidersRaidersRaiders
Chicago @ Tampa BayBuccaneersBuccaneersBuccaneers
Houston @ ArizonaCardinalsCardinalsCardinals
Indianapolis @ San FranciscoColts49ersColts
New Orleans @ Seattle (Mon.)SaintsSaintsSaints
Last Week11-310-47-7
Overall59-3559-3555-39

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
Dylan Price is on Twitter @dylanprice27
Brendan Carpenter is on Twitter @brendan_carp

Who Ya Got Wednesday: New York Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons

zach wilson, jets

London’s calling the New York Jets. Can Gang Green start a winning streak overseas against the reeling Falcons?

  • What: New York Jets (1-3) vs. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)
  • Where: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
  • When: Sunday at 9:30 a.m ET
  • Watch: NFL Network

robert saleh, jets

Geoff Magliocchetti: Jets 23, Falcons 19

Ah, London. Fish, chips, cup o’ tea, New York Jets football…LONDON!

With apologies to the late, great Dennis Farina, the United Kingdom’s capital is a godsend to the New York Jets in the sense that it’s one of the few countries to host NFL football, that, to date, that has yet to host a Gang Green loss. The Jets won their first visit to the island nation in 2015, paced by a career day from Chris Ivory.

Six years later, the Jets are no closer to a Super Bowl but might be in the unusual position of being a one-win team faced with the closest thing it can possibly get to a trap game. The Jets are coming off an exciting victory against a recent AFC playoff staple from Tennessee (albeit one without the aerial services of A.J. Brown and Julio Jones), one that could be long remembered as the first win of the Robert Saleh/Zach Wilson era. They’re now granted a neutral site game against a Falcons that has failed to feast on a predominantly NFC East slate: they’ve already lost to Philadelphia and Washington and needed all 60 minutes to steal a win from the lowly Giants.

Armed with fresh momentum, particularly on offense, all signs point to the Jets starting a winning streak overseas. This being the Jets, of course, it’s never that easy. Atlanta has played better over the last two weeks after losing their first two contests by a combined 49 points. Cordarrelle Patterson is establishing himself as a legitimate offensive threat while the young talents of Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts can’t be denied. Matt Ryan isn’t what he used to be but has remained a serviceable option under center.

The Jets’ defense has tackled (pun intended) a lot of challenges and misconceptions over the past few weeks. Confidence has grown amongst the group, so they should be ready for what Atlanta is ready to throw at it. The big factor this week is how the offense builds on what they were able to do against the Titans. A prime opportunity lingers against a Falcons defense that has allowed 11 touchdown passes and has forced only two turnovers in its first four outings.

Jets-Falcons isn’t the most attractive matchup for the British…well, they did give the world the Cats musical, which in turn led to the garish film adaptation, so consider this revenge…but it should be an interesting case of two desperate teams fighting for 2021 relevancy. For the Jets, it’s a prime opportunity to build the promises of growth and development.

There have already been so many signs of such progress…again, the defense stitched together by draft weekend Saturday pick-ups has been extraordinary…but now there’s an opportunity to post them in the most important stockpile of all: the win column. Putting together consecutive wins is vital in this stage. The sooner Saleh and Wilson get a winning streak off their respective rookie to-do lists, the better.

Dylan Price: Jets 31, Falcons 20

They did it! The Jets finally won a game and now travel overseas for their London game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Atlanta has pieced together two strong performances in a row. They won against the Giants and put up 30 points against the Washington Football Team last week. Cordarelle Patterson has looked like a superstar and the Falcons’ offense seems to be picking up momentum.

Meanwhile, the Jets have found some momentum as well. The offense looks to finally have found a rhythm, and their defense looks really good, coming off a performance where they only allowed two scores. If the Jets’ pass rush can replicate their performance from Sunday, or even half of that, they will cause disruptions for Matt Ryan.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Falcons defense has allowed more than 32 points three times this season. This is an opportunity to continue their momentum as long as the Jets continue to open up the playbook. I’m taking the Jets to win and travel home from London happy.

Mags’ Best of the Rest

LA Rams (-1.5) @ Seattle (Thu.)

Divisional redemption awaits the Rams on Thursday night, as they should take advantage of a Seahawks defense still looking for stability.

Who Covers: Rams
Who Wins: Rams

Denver @ Pittsburgh (-1.5)

Denver’s (angry) defense, fresh off a respectable effort against Baltimore, facing off with a Ben Roethlisberger showing his age ultimately should trump the decision under center between Drew Lock and the injured Teddy Bridgewater.

Who Covers: Broncos
Who Wins: Broncos

Detroit @ Minnesota (-7.5)

Nothing’s come easy for the Vikings but they should be able to handle business against a reeling Lions squad.

Who Covers: Lions
Who Wins: Vikings

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay (-3) @ Cincinnati 

Joe Burrow and the Bengals are one of the more feel-good stories of the early stages of the season, but leave it to Aaron Rodgers to provide a healthy dose of reality.

Who Covers: Packers
Who Wins: Packers

Miami @ Tampa Bay (-10.5)

Though the spotlight is removed, Tom Brady should be able to reestablish another lost AFC East tradition: beating up on the hapless Dolphins.

Who Covers: Buccaneers
Who Wins: Buccaneers

New England (-9) @ Houston

The publicized fall to Brady’s new comrades at least proved the Patriots are trending in the right direction and the evidence should be visible on the scoreboard against the woebegone Texans.

Who Covers: Patriots
Who Wins: Patriots

New Orleans (-1.5) @ Washington

Coming off a shocking home loss to the Giants while Tampa Bay and Carolina start to inch away in the NFC South, New Orleans simply needs this game more than Washington’s division title defense does.

Who Covers: Saints
Who Wins: Saints

Philadelphia @ Carolina (-3.5)

The new-look Panthers’ first response to adversity comes against a reeling Eagles defense that let up 461 yards to Kansas City last week.

Who Covers: Panthers
Who Wins: Panthers

Tennessee (-4) @ Jacksonville 

Even if the Titans are forced to sit Brown and Jones again, they have much bigger issues if they can’t take down a Jacksonville dealing with Urban decay.

Who Covers: Titans
Who Wins: Titans

Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago @ Las Vegas (-5.5)

The promise of more Justin Fields will help the Bears in the long run, but growing pains lie on the immediate road ahead.

Who Covers: Raiders
Who Wins: Raiders

Cleveland @ LA Chargers (-1)

This battle of dowtrodden offenses on the rise should come down to the offensive faceoff, and it’s hard to deny that the Chargers have the edge there for the time being.

Who Covers: Chargers
Who Wins: Chargers

NY Giants @ Dallas (-7)

One thing’s for sure: a battle between the exhilarating Cowboys and the determined-to-prove something Giants provide fireworks that rivalry has been lacking in recent stagings, even if it’s a little much to ask New York to stop the rolling Dallas offense on the road.

Who Covers: Giants
Who Wins: Cowboys

San Francisco @ Arizona (-5.5)

The Cardinals aren’t going undefeated…no team in NFL history is ever doing that again…but their unbeaten streak should continue against a pleasantly surprising 49ers team that’s on the cusp of a quarterback controversy.

Who Covers: 49ers
Who Wins: Cardinals

Buffalo @ Kansas City (-3)

The Bills have feasted on subpar competition, but now face one of the scariest challenges in football that hasn’t been seen in years: a Kansas City Chiefs team with something prove in the regular season.

Who Covers: Chiefs
Who Wins: Chiefs

Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis @ Baltimore (-7)

Fresh off a win in Miami, the Colts could sneak back into the division race with Houston, San Francisco, Tennessee, the Jets, and Jacksonville all looming ahead, but asking them to steal a primetime road tilt from Lamar Jackson and Co. is a little too much to ask for.

Who Covers: Colts
Who Wins: Ravens

Last Week: 9-7
Overall: 38-26

Dylan Price
LA Rams @ Seattle (Thu.) Rams
Denver @ Pittsburgh Broncos
Detroit @ Minnesota Vikings
Green Bay @ Cincinnati Packers
Miami @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New England @ Houston Patriots
New Orleans @ Washington Football Team
Philadelphia @ Carolina Panthers
Tennessee @ Jacksonville Titans
Chicago @ Las Vegas Raiders
Cleveland @ LA Chargers Chargers
NY Giants @ Dallas Cowboys
San Francisco @ Arizona Cardinals
Buffalo @ Kansas City Bills
Indianapolis @ Baltimore (Mon.) Ravens

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

Who Ya Got Wednesday: New York Jets vs. Tennessee Titans

rob saleh, jets

In desperate need of a win, the New York Jets do battle with the defending AFC South champions and Corey Davis’ former employers on Sunday.

  • What: Tennessee Titans (2-1) at New York Jets (0-3)
  • Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
  • When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET
  • Watch: CBS

New York Giants, Corey Davis
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Geoff Magliocchetti

Never mind the Jets and Titans; the real winner of Sunday’s tilt at MetLife Stadium is anyone blessed with the services of Derrick Henry on their fantasy football team.

Tennessee has recovered from an early slip-up by not only feeding the MVP candidate but giving him the gridiron equivalent of a six-course meal. Over the past two victorious weekends, the Titans put the ball in Henry’s hands a jaw-dropping 72 times, a count that includes a career-high 35 carries in Week 2’s overtime prevailing against Seattle. Shockingly, Henry’s opportunities may only increase against the Jets. Last week’s divisional triumph over the Colts was a costly one, as the Titans’ receiving corps could be missing both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones.

While Henry prevents a literally massive challenge (6-foot-3, 250 pounds), defense hasn’t been the Jets’ problem. The unit has played well with the hands it has been dealt, evidenced by its NFL-best 33 percent touchdown rate in red zone situations (tied with Denver and New Orleans). But, as we saw against Christian McCaffrey and the Carolina Panthers, the Jets’ respectable makeshift unit doesn’t have the firepower or experience to withstand an assault by a superstar player.

At this point, it’d be a mere win for the Jets to merely visit the end zone right now, having gone just over two hours of game time without scoring a touchdown. Tennessee’s issues on defense could allow the Jets to achieve that manageable goal but the prescience of Henry and lack of offensive traction continues to make an addition to the left-hand side of the standings column too much of a tall task.

Titans 26, Jets 10

Dylan Price

Last week felt like a chance for a turnaround. Expectations were low and the Jets had a chance to overachieve. Instead, they found a way to lower the bar yet again.

This week, the Jets take on the Tennessee Titans. The Jets offense was stagnant yet again in Denver and the game-plan has been pitiful the past two weeks. Zach Wilson has to take advantage of all his receivers, not just Corey Davis. The Titans’ secondary gives the Jets a prime opportunity to finally get things rolling. New York’s pass defense, which has been surprisingly good to this point, will have a strong chance to make plays this weekend as A.J. Brown and Julio Jones are out.

The Jets have a chance to win this game, but containing Derrick Henry will be the key to this game. I think they keep it close but ultimately the Jets lose a tight one.

Titans 24, Jets 20

New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Best of the Rest

Magliocchetti Price
Jacksonville @ Cincinnati (Thu.) Bengals Bengals
Carolina @ Dallas Cowboys Panthers
Cleveland @ Minnesota Browns Browns
Detroit @ Chicago Lions Lions
Houston @ Buffalo Bills Bills
Indianapolis @ Miami Dolphins Colts
Kansas City @ Philadelphia Chiefs Chiefs
NY Giants @ New Orleans Saints Saints
Washington @ Atlanta Falcons Football Team
Arizona @ LA Rams Rams Rams
Seattle @ San Francisco 49ers Seahawks
Baltimore @ Denver Ravens Broncos
Pittsburgh @ Green Bay Packers Packers
Tampa Bay @ New England Buccaneers Buccaneers
Las Vegas @ LA Chargers Chargers Chargers
Last Week 9-7 11-5
Overall 29-19 27-21

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Who Ya Got Wednesday: New York Jets vs. New England Patriots

Reeling from several injuries from their opener, the road ahead gets no easier for the New York Jets, who face an angry Patriots squad.

  • What: New England Patriots (0-1) at New York Jets (0-1)
  • Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
  • When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET
  • Watch: CBS

 (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Geoff Magliocchetti

If one were scripting the Robert Saleh era for the big screen, the subplot of his Jets opening up their MetLife Stadium slate and harkening the return of fans against the hated Patriots would likely be rejected for its lack of subtlety. Nonetheless, it’s what the powers-that-be at the NFL asked for.

There would be no better way to welcome supporters back and kick off the Saleh era on the right note than ending several dubious streaks against New England. The Patriots haven’t lost at MetLife Stadium since 2015. Their last regulation loss on Route 3 came in MetLife’s current parking lot, then known as Giants Stadium, in 2009. Overall, the Patriots have won ten straight against the Jets. Even New England’s struggles in year one A.B. (After Brady) weren’t enough for the Jets to steal a victory, though they needed every inch of clock to win the November showing in the Garden State.

One of the attainable goals for the modern Gang Green should be to earn a showcase victory or two, a throat-clearing gesture that would warn the football world that this isn’t your father’s Jets, your older brother’s Jets…heck, your twin brother’s Jets. Finally flipping the script on this one-sided rivalry would certainly be one way to do that, especially with green fans walking through MetLife’s turnstiles for a meaningful game for the first time since December 2019.

But circumstances aren’t tilted in the Jets’ favor: the 2021 NFL season is only a week old, but the Jets have suffered at least a month’s worth of medically-induced calamities, one that that has turned their injury ledger into the top of a depth chart. Everyone knew that Carl Lawson and Jarrad Davis wouldn’t be ready to go for the return to East Rutherford but the kickoff contest in Carolina erased Mekhi Becton, Lamarcus Joyner, and Blake Cashman, each of whom landed on injured reserve. Another fallen starter, linebacker Jamien Sherwood, avoided major catastrophe, but will still miss New England’s visit.

The makeshift Jets deserve a lot of credit for what happened in Carolina, particularly in a second half won by a 14-3 margin. Alas, in what’s set to become a recurring theme in 2021, many of the green victories won’t be seen on the scoreboard. Asking this ragtag group, one that has already had to seek sizable help from abroad, to not only exorcise some bad Boston-based juju but to conquer a Bill Belichick-led team that’s no doubt still peeved over dropping a winnable divisional contest is too much at this point.

Patriots 24, Jets 17

zach wilson, jets

Brendan Carpenter

The Jets’ future fell just short to their past Sunday, as Sam Darnold and the Panthers came away victorious in a 19-14 final. While they didn’t get the win, there are some positives to be taken away regarding the offense that should have them excited for the home opener against the Patriots this weekend.

For starters, Zach Wilson looked poised, collected, and exciting. He made those eye-popping throws that fans rave about, most notably ones that were caught by Corey Davis for a touchdown and a potential deep-gain that was dropped by Elijah Moore. The downside of seeing him make those throws? They almost all came after horrible blocking and breakdowns by the offensive line.

The offensive line needs to hold up better against New England, a task made all the more difficult now that Mekhi Becton is out. The offensive line should play better throughout, though, and won’t be the deciding factor: that burden instead falls to the defense.

The young secondary played well in Week 1 and the Patriots’ receivers aren’t as lethal as they were in years past, so that should be encouraging. However, the Jets are going to have to bring more pressure against Mac Jones and make him uncomfortable because if they don’t, he’ll dissect the defense. If that happens, game over.

The biggest thing the Jets’ defense has to do, though, is what they didn’t do against Carolina: they allowed 93 receiving yards to Panther running backs (namely Christian McCaffrey). The Patriots have James White, who had six catches in Week 1’s loss to Miami. Linebackers will need to make watching the running backs, even during passing plays, a priority.

The Jets will have their work cut out for them against a team that has, putting it nicely, had their number for the last decade-plus. With defensive injuries to linebackers Blake Cashman and Jamien Sherwood and safety Lamarcus Joyner, they’re thin. The offense will play better but the defense will seemingly have some difficulty.

Patriots 27, Jets 21

 (Photo By Streeter Lecka)

Dylan Price

The Jets dropped Sunday’s opener to the Panthers in a 19-14 outing. Gang Green came out of the gates with a first half that could be described as abysmal at best. Blockers failed to protect Zach Wilson, who had little to no time in the pocket. The defense was worn out as the Panthers controlled the time of possession throughout the first half.

In the second half, though, we saw a different team. The offensive line still struggled, but the team finished the game with momentum. Heading into Sunday, the Jets’ two largest challenges will be the offensive line and containing tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. The Jets’ defense should have a chance to capitalize on the inexperienced Mac Jones, especially if the secondary can replicate Sunday’s second half performance. Ultimately, I foresee a tight game that ends with the Patriots narrowly etching out the win.

Patriots 20, Jets 17

Best of the Rest

Magliocchetti Carpenter Price
NY Giants @ Washington (Thu.) Giants Football Team Football Team
Buffalo @ Miami Bills Bills Bills
Cincinnati @ Chicago Bears Bengals Bengals
Denver @ Jacksonville Broncos Broncos Broncos
Houston @ Cleveland Browns Browns Browns
Las Vegas @ Pittsburgh Steelers Raiders Raiders
LA Rams @ Indianapolis Rams Rams Rams
New Orleans @ Carolina Saints Saints Saints
San Francisco @ Philadelphia 49ers 49ers 49ers
Atlanta @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers Buccaneers Buccaneers
Minnesota @ Arizona Cardinals Cardinals Cardinals
Dallas @ LA Chargers Cowboys Cowboys Chargers
Tennessee @ Seattle Titans Seahawks Seahawks
Kansas City @ Baltimore Ravens Chiefs Chiefs
Detroit @ Green Bay (Mon.) Packers Packers Lions
Last Week 7-9 7-9 6-10

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Who Ya Got Wednesday: New York Jets at Carolina Panthers

Will the New York Jets’ first game of the Robert Saleh era bring about immediate change on the scoreboard or further heartbreak?

  • What: New York Jets at Carolina Panthers
  • Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
  • When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET
  • Watch: CBS

new york jets, robert saleh

Geoff Magliocchetti

The New York Jets undoubtedly became a better team this offseason. On paper, the arsenal that the Jets have surrounded Zach Wilson with is better than anything Sunday’s aerial opponent Zach Wilson ever had. Head coach Robert Saleh was a hire praised by on-field constituents both domestically and abroad, rather than the hot-take artists.

But Jets fans must realize something, especially in the early going: Saleh and Wilson have been brought in as long-term project overseers, not miracle-workers made to bless the metropolitan area with an instant fix. The Jets’ somewhat dire 2021 outlook, one where making the playoffs remains a tall task, is more of an indictment of the Adam Gase era than anything else. It’s simply asking a lot for this team to take out several established contenders in what’s ultimately an ill-fated attempt to reach the AFC postseason bracket. That also applies against a Carolina team that wasn’t as garish as its 5-11 mark from 2020 indicated.

The powers that be, true to their nature, did little favors for Gang Green: the first game of the Saleh era comes in Carolina, where ex-Jets Sam Darnold and Robby Anderson can prey on an inexperienced Jets secondary. Carolina as a whole is looking to make a statement of sorts, one that will remind observers not to forget them as they try to make noise in a division ruled by Tom Brady until further notice. Eight of the Panthers’ 11 defeats from last year came by eight points or less. Most of those games were staged without the services of star rusher Christian McCaffrey, who is set to make his return on Sunday. Granted a home opener against a Jets team lacking defensive clarity (thanks to the inexperienced secondary and Carl Lawson’s injury), the Panthers’ offense has a prime opportunity to state its intentions for 2021.

As it stands, the Jets aren’t a team that can waltz into another team’s home and steal a momentum-shifting win. It’s very possible Saleh can mold them into such a squad by the end of the year, but asking them to do so in Week 1 is, again, a little too much to ask for at this point on the franchise timeline.

Panthers 23, Jets 17

New York Jets, Quinnen Williams

Brendan Carpenter

Who better for the New York Jets to faceoff against than the Carolina Panthers to open the 2021 NFL season?

Zach Wilson and Sam Darnold in a 1 p.m. ET matinee will surely be a sight to see. Darnold’s unit is ahead of Wilson’s in the preseason power rankings, but that could easily change Sunday. The season-opening result will rely heavily on the Jets’ defensive front. They have to pressure the quarterback because the young corners could get torn apart all game. The Panthers will be missing their starting right guard, John Miller, so Quinnen Williams and Sheldon Rankins need to push the inside. The matchup to watch will be, without a doubt, Carolina’s blockers vs the Jets’  defensive line.

Jets 24, Panthers 20

robby anderson running a touchdown against the carolina panthers
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Dylan Price

Well, here we are Jets, the game we’ve all been looking towards since last season ended. On Sunday, the Jets fly to Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers. The game holds extra weight as the team faces their demons of the past: the Panthers are coached by former Jets target Matt Rhule while Sam Darnold, Robby Anderson, and Frankie Luvu are among the former bearers of green on the current roster.

The Panthers will undoubtedly be looking to make a statement out of Gang Green and spoil the debuts of Robert Saleh and Zach Wilson. Ultimately, this game is a hard one to predict, but the Jets have a fresh start and a decent amount of momentum coming out of the preseason. I expect the team to come out fast out of the gate and to start the season strong. It’s going to be a tight game, but I think the Jets have what it takes to emerge victoriously.

Jets 27, Panthers 21

Best of the Rest 

Magliocchetti Carpenter Price
Dallas @ Tampa Bay (Thu.) Buccaneers Buccaneers Buccaneers
Arizona @ Tennessee Titans Titans Titans
Jacksonville @ Houston Jaguars Jaguars Jaguars
LA Chargers @ Washington Chargers Chargers Football Team
Minnesota @ Cincinnati Vikings Vikings Vikings
Philadelphia @ Atlanta Falcons Falcons Falcons
Pittsburgh @ Buffalo Bills Bills Bills
San Francisco @ Detroit 49ers 49ers Lions
Seattle @ Indianapolis Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks
Cleveland @ Kansas City Chiefs Browns Chiefs
Denver @ NY Giants Giants Broncos Giants
Green Bay @ New Orleans  Packers Packers Packers
Miami @ New England Patriots Dolphins Dolphins
Chicago @ LA Rams Rams Rams Rams
Baltimore @ Las Vegas (Mon.) Ravens Ravens Ravens

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets Game Preview Week 1: Buffalo Bills

New York Jets, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

A familiar foe awaits the New York Jets in their return to action, as they’ll face the Buffalo Bills for the second straight kickoff weekend.

What: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
Where: Bills Stadium, Orchard Park, NY
When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Watch: CBS

It will be deja vu all over again on Sunday afternoon for the New York Jets. For the third time in four seasons, the Jets will open their regular season proceedings against the Buffalo Bills.

Special, unusual circumstances hover over this particular meeting, however. Not only will fans be barred from entering Bills Stadium, in conjunction with COVID-19 protocols, but this will be the first time the teams are facing off against a squad in different-colored equipment. Training camp scrimmages and preseason games were put on hold as the NFL navigated its offseason through the ongoing health crisis.

“In preseason games you kind of have that feeling of, okay, this is live. I can get sacked here and things can happen and I can escape the pocket without the whistle being blown so now that it is the real deal, kind of another feeling out process,” Jets quarterback Sam Darnold remarked in transcripts from the Jets. “In the offseason, you try to simulate live reps and all that with coaches with noodles or with different things to throw out you. You try to simulate things like that, but there’s nothing like a guy who’s trying to tackle you. It’s just going to be going out there on Sunday and I think the first couple series, we’ll start to get back into a groove, especially just speaking for myself, if I get hit a couple of times, I feel like I’ll start to get back into it a little bit.”

The Jets (7-9) are coming off their best win tally since 2015, but matching that output might be a tall task with several key contributors from last season having either moved on (Jamal Adams) or opting out of the 2020 proceedings entirely (C.J. Mosley). Players from both sides of the ball are set to make their debuts, including a completely revamped blocking unit headlined by the arrival of Mekhi Becton, the 11th overall pick of April’s draft. Darnold’s top targets have likewise been adjusted, with second-round choice Denzel Mims on pace to man the receiving corps alongside veteran arrival Breshad Perriman. Adam Gase will also enter his second season as head coach of the Jets.

Meanwhile, the Bills (10-6) have been pegged by many as AFC contenders after reaching 10 wins for the first time since 1999. The Bills reached the playoffs for the second time in three seasons back in January, falling in overtime to the Houston Texans in the wild-card round. Buffalo’s offense is headlined by young talents Josh Allen and Devin Singletary, while All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White returns after inking a $70 million contract extension. Buffalo is coached by Sean McDermott, who has earned a 25-23 record over three seasons with the team.

The Series

This will be the 120th meeting between the Jets and Bills, a showdown that dates back to 1960. Buffalo leads the all-time set by a 63-56 tally. Sunday also marks the third time over the last four seasons that the Jets and Bills have met on opening weekend.

The Bills won last year’s debut in a 17-16 final at MetLife Stadium. Buffalo made up a 16-0 deficit in the second half, their comeback completed with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Allen to John Brown. The Jets built their lead through Mosley’s interception return for a touchdown and a nine-yard Darnold hook-up with Le’Veon Bell. New York would close the year with a 13-6 win in Orchard Park during the final week of the regular season, taking advantage of resting Bills starters. Darnold and Jamison Crowder united for the only touchdown of the day on a one-yard pass.

The Jets and Bills have split their yearly pair in each of the past three seasons.

History Happens: 2002

Overall, the Jets and Bills have met in Week 1 a dozen times, with Jets leading 8-4 in the subset. The 2002 get-together was one for the literal record books as the Jets’ 37-31 victory was earned through what was then the fastest overtime in NFL history.

Buffalo tied the game with 26 seconds left in regulation on a Drew Bledsoe touchdown pass to Eric Moulds but the Jets immediately put the concept of momentum aside. Chad Morton took the ensuing overtime kickoff back 96 yards, ending the extra period only 14 seconds in. It was the second kickoff return of the game for Morton, who currently serves as the running backs coach in Seattle.

They Said It

“We try to put our players in the best position possible. So, when guys do go down, when we do have some kind of change, we can’t flinch as coaches, we just adjust what we’re doing. We do everything we can to put those guys in the best position possible. Sometimes it’s through trial and error, sometimes it’s, ‘Hey prove to us that you either can do something or you can’t.’ That comes through the entire time of training camp.”Adam Gase on the “next man up” philosophy, per Jack Bell

“We went through the (scouting) process with Sam. I have a lot of respect for Sam and his work and who he is. As you look at him, he’s mobile, he does a good job in the pocket (and) he does a good job getting them in and out of checks at the line of scrimmage based on the looks he’s presented with. So, he looks like a young quarterback with a lot of upside.”Bills head coach Sean McDermott on Sam Darnold, per Eric Allen

Matchup To Watch

T Mekhi Becton vs. DE Jerry Hughes

The Jets were likely among the teams most affected by a lack of preseason games. Four consequence-free opportunities would’ve been a good chance for a completely rebooted offensive line to build some chemistry. Individually, Becton could’ve gotten used to the pace and surroundings of an NFL environment.

Becton has yet to play a single down in green, but he already holds an unerasable place in team history. If he succeeds, and the Jets’ offense enjoys a much-needed wake-up call, Becton will go down in the same sentence as D’Brickshaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. If his NFL career doesn’t pan out the way the Jets are hoping, the ever-prevalent hindsight of football fans and draft enthusiasts everywhere will question why the Jets didn’t go for one of the talented receivers available to them at No. 11. A quartet of game-paced scrimmages would’ve been a good way to start his professional career.

The Louisville alum will immediately be thrown into the NFL fire. Attacking Darnold’s blind side will be Hughes, the talented pass rusher out of TCU. In his last outing, Hughes sacked Deshaun Watson three times in a playoff game. He’s earned 51.5 sacks over an NFL career that’s about to hit a decade. He owns a career-best 43 tackles, including 10 for a loss, against the Jets. Thus, Becton has no opportunity for a “training day” afforded to countless rookies before him.

The lack of preseason games has also appeared to affect Hughes as well, as he’s had no opportunity to see Becton work in the New York offense.

“It kind of feels a little bit like college-esque in the sense of there’s no preseason games to go off of,” Hughes explained to Maddy Glab of BuffaloBills.com. “Some guys don’t even have NFL tape, so you’re pulling up things from the archives of what they did a year or two ago in college. It’s kind of eerie being in this position just because we’ve always had the preseason games to kind of catch our bearings, catch our breath and get into the whole game flow.”

The Jets Will Win If…

The lack of preseason game preparation doesn’t come back to haunt them.

Shortening or eliminating preseason games has been proposed even in “normal” times, but Gase has been a rare voice against the concept. The Jets are a team with many newcomers, both rookies and veterans alike, and they could’ve used an opportunity to build chemistry in what could well be a trying season. Teams like Buffalo are relatively set due to their sense of continuity and relatively little turnover at the top of the depth chart. Even with expanded playoff capital in the AFC, it’s going to be a tall task to ask the Jets to reach the playoffs. Getting some good wins, especially against divisional opponents filled with hope and expectations, would help a tricky season go by a lot smoother.

The Bills Will Win If…

They avoid the trap.

Almost everyone’s preseason darling has emerged from Buffalo. But how many preseason Super Bowl champion have we seen fall into oblivion once the real games get going? The “Dream Team” edition of the Philadelphia Eagles certainly comes to everyone’s mind. The Bills are so eager to be known as the Empire State’s team and they would be wise to take advice bestowed to one of the state’s most famous fictional residents: with great power, comes great responsibility. Buffalo is in a spot where they’re the team that’s in the best spot to pick up where New England left off. Thus, they’re already in a position to play trap games. The Patriots built their sterling reputation by dominating subpar divisional competition. If the Bills truly want to take over, they need to handle affairs in winnable games.

Prediction

Sunday could be the start of something extraordinary. Jets-Bills has never truly been must-see, prime time television, but there’s a prime opportunity for the yearly pair to become one of the NFL’s strongest rivalries. Both teams need to take care of their business and win games for the rivalry to truly flourish, but the New York factor and the battle of 2018 draftees under center could make a premiere matchup in the coming years.

The Jets could take advantage of Buffalo’s most unusual trap game scenario. To bring up the lack of August football factor again, we could see some sloppy football in the early stages of the year. Such surroundings tend to favor the underdog. But asking the Jets to win their first game with mostly new personnel is going to be a tall task without the proper game-pace preparation. The time the favored Bills spend getting their game legs back could allow the Jets to keep pace, but asking for a win is simply too tall a task at this point in time.

Bills 19, Jets 13

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

Now What? What to Expect from the New York Jets on Day Two

New York Jets

The New York Jets added another stone to their blocking gauntlet in the form of Mekhi Becton. What comes next in Friday’s pair of rounds?

One pick down, seven to go. 

The virtual draft fun has just begun for the New York Jets, who will be on the board three times when the second and third rounds commence on Friday night (7:00 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2/NFL Network).

Many felt the Jets got off to a good start with the selection of Louisville offensive lineman Mekhi Becton at No. 11 overall, the team knows there is still work to be done.

General manager Joe Douglas knows about the big opportunity the Jets have on Friday. New York was allotted the 48th and 79th selections on the draft board and also own the 68th pick, obtained from the New York Giants in a trade for Leonard Williams.

“I don’t take this opportunity lightly,” Douglas said before the draft, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “We’ve got eight picks and four in the top 79. We have to do our best to get the right type of player, the right type of person that’s going to come in here and turn things around and get us going in the right direction. We’ve seen impact drafts make a real difference in a short time.”

What should Jets fans expect in the draft’s first post-Becton stages? ESM has three possibilities…

Catch A Receiver 

Becton’s name was called before any of the draft’s renowned receiving corps. Shortly after, the catchers flew off the board. Henry Ruggs was first chosen by Las Vegas immediately after the Jets’ choice. Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb respectively went to Denver and Dallas at Nos. 15 and 17.

Though the latter stages took out three more (Jalen Reagor, Justin Jefferson, and Brandon Aiyuk), plenty of viable options are still on the board and should be available by the time the Jets choose at No. 48. Clemson’s Tee Higgins and Baylor’s Denzel Mims might not make it there, but Michael Pittman and his strong hands could be a viable option. The sizable Laviska Shenault of Colorado is another intriguing Pac-12 product, while the small but speedy Chase Claypool of Notre Dame will draw suitors as well.

Though veterans will return (Jamison Crowder and the injured Quincy Enunwa) and they added Bredshad Perriman in free agency, the Jets are in need of explosive receiver help. Such an option can indeed be found on day two. Second-day yields on the receiver front from the past five drafts alone include Michael Thomas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cooper Kupp, Chris Godwin, and Courtland Sutton, among others.

Defensive Struggle

This day two defensive struggle comes in the sweetest form: there are so many viable depth options for the Jets that it’s going to be hard to make a decision, even if a little extra capital is headed their way after the Williams trade.

While the Jets shored up their blocking on Thursday and will probably address their receiver situation at some point in the draft’s middle portions, the team must emerge from Friday’s proceedings with pass rush and secondary assistance. The former took on added importance during the first round, as Miami’s first selection means the Jets are going to have to deal with the arm and legs of Tua Tagovailoa twice a year in the near future.

The Jets dealt one of their premiere pass rushers to earn an extra pick, so it would perhaps be poetic to welcome in a replacement. It might be a little too much to hope for to see both Zach Baun and A.J. Epenesa to fall into the Jets’ grasp, but their comrade Yetur Gross-Matos might be well on his way. Bradlee Anae and Curtis Weaver have each made appearances in ESM mock drafts. In the secondary, Jaylon Johnson and Bryce Hall should be watched on the cornerback front.

Don’t Block the Idea of Another Blocker

The Jets’ offensive line has featured more renovation than an afternoon block of HGTV programming. Some saw Becton has the finishing touch, set to join a unit that already welcomed in George Fant, Greg Van Roten, and Connor McGovern (among several other depth additions) in through free agency proceedings.

But if Joe Douglas has made one thing clear, its that he views blocking as indispensable. His regime has done away with the blocking negligence of the Mike Maccagnan era and has instead brought it to the forefront of offseason concerns. Day two could be a day to stockpile depth on the line, ones who can stoke the fires of potential training camp competition.

Boise State tackle Ezra Cleveland is probably the top lineman available on Friday, but the Jets will probably look to bolster their interior units. Michigan’s Ben Bredeson would be an intriguing option in round three, as his experience on the left side could give returnee Alex Lewis some competition. LSU’s Damien Lewis could also put some heat on veteran Brian Winters.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

10 Predictions For The New York Yankees And The MLB Season

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In just a few weeks New York Yankees pitchers and catchers will be reporting to spring training and hope will spring eternal for every team in MLB other than the Mets…they are just cursed and that’s that.

It’s the time of year when optimism is at an all-time high, and everyone thinks this year will be the year it all comes together. Every injury prone player is in the best shape of his life and is going to be the comeback player of the year, every hitter has adjusted his launch angle and is going to hit .450 with 75 home runs.

Best of all, every sports writer makes their predictions that will quickly be forgotten once the season starts and their success rate matches Joey Gallo’s batting average. Well, I want to get my predictions for the upcoming season on the record as well.

So without further ado here they are:

  1. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will play professional baseball in 2019. It’s true, someone will pay them to play this year, and I’m 85% certain it won’t be in Japan. One subplot to their free agency dragging on I haven’t seen enough people commenting on: How bad can it be to play in Philadelphia? The owner already basically promised his fanbase they would sign one of these guys if not both, and committed “stupid money” to do so and the response from both players has been “Ummmm cool, I’m totally interested in playing for you, seriously I am (glances at watch) ummm my guy will call your guy to work out the details, gotta go.” Their like a teenage girl who are keeping their safety date for the prom available while they wait for someone better to ask them. Then again Philadelphians are insufferable and they deserve it.
  2. CC Sabathia will make more starts then James Paxton.  That’s right, the 300-pound lefty who turns 39 in July, and who just had heart surgery will be more durable than the 30-year-old ace that the Yankees acquired from the Mariners. I’m predicting 18 starts for Paxton and I think CC will make it to 20. Bonus prediction, remove the decimal point and I think both pitchers ERA’s will match their weight.
  3. All those people who demanded the Yankees trade Gary Sanchez for JT Realmuto will vanish by the end of the season. “Trade the Kraken??? I never said that, that was totally someone else. Nah, my twitter was hacked or something I knew he was gonna bounce back.” When Sanchez hits 40 homers this year and drives in 100 runs they are going to backpedal and claim they never wanted to trade him, do not allow it. Find their comments, or posts, or anything you can cut and paste it onto a word document 1000 times and send it to them once a day as a reminder of their lack of faith.
  4. Clint Frazier will win the left field job by June 1st and have a solid season. Brett Gardner will be a 4th outfielder and continue his transition into the veteran leader role. Jacoby Ellsbury will spike himself during a baserunning drill and miss most of the season rehabbing the injury.
  5. Boston’s decision to not resign most of their bullpen will be their second worst decision. I know that Betts,  Bientendi, and JD Martinez were great last year but they still plan on a platoon of Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce at 1st base, the artist is formerly known as Dustin Pedroia at 2nd base, Rafael Devers whose slash line was .240/.298/.433, and HOFer Xander Bogaerts and his up and down offense. Not to mention their catchers being a total trainwreck. Not addressing their line-up will be their biggest concern, you can’t save leads you don’t have.
  6. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will combine for 90 home runs and Yankee fans will still be unhappy with the team not signing Machado or Harper. The Yankees are going to break their own home run record from last year with a healthy Judge and Sanchez, Stanton more comfortable in his role, and the Voit/Bird combo being better than a season ago. All that being said Yankee fans are still going to be upset about not signing one of the big free agents. Some people are hard to please I guess.
  7. The best division in MLB this year will be the NL Central. The Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals are all playoff caliber, Cincinnati has retooled in a huge way, and Pittsburgh will be the best last place team in baseball. Bonus prediction: Sonny Gray wins 15 games and gets down-ballot Cy Young votes, winning more games than James Paxton.
  8. Shohei Otani comes back down to earth in his second go round. His .330 babip and 30% k rate are probably unsustainable and his injuries and games pitching limited his exposure to AL pitchers in 2018. If he continues to strikeout in 1/3 of his at-bats, and he loses .030 of luck on his batted balls your looking at .230 with 20 HRs. Giving him the ROY over Andujar is going to be like when they gave it to Angel Berro over Matsui.
  9. Chris Sale’s shoulder issues will get worse. He has gradually missed more and more time over the last few seasons with inflammation and his effectiveness has dropped off as each season progressed. He’s entering the last year of his contract and Boston may try to run him into the ground to prop up their mediocre starting rotation. If they do he won’t be pitching beyond July 4th.
  10. The Yankees will win the world series. They have a stacked line-up, young players growing into their roles, only two everyday players that have reached their peaks (Stanton and Lemahieu) and can expect improvements from Sanchez, Torres, and Bird. They have enough starting pitching and a dominant bullpen to get them through games when their starters struggle. With Boston needing JD Martinez and Mookie Betts to continue being Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig just to not go backward, and their rotation being a fragile Sale, David Price and his inconsistency issues, Nathan Eovaldi trying for two consecutive  good seasons for the first time in his life and Rick Porcello who has been good twice in his entire career it’s clear the Yankees are the new AL favorite.

So there you have them, please remind me how I did come October.