The energized Jets face their toughest test yet of the still maturing 2022 season with Sunday's AFC East matchup at MetLife Stadium against the New England Patriots.
It's not that the Patriots are looming large as usual in the division. Since 2001, in all regular-season and playoff games, Bill Belichick's Patriots have a 35-9 record against the Jets, 35-8 vs. the Bills and 26-17 over the Dolphins. This year the Pats are 3-4 and coming off a home Monday night loss to the Bears.
Robert Saleh's Jets, meanwhile, are enjoying life in second place in the East at 5-2, coming off their fourth rousing road win of the year, at Denver. Overall, QB Zach Wilson (backed up for the first time by Mike White with Joe Flacco inactive) and the Jets are on concurrent four-game win streaks.
Yet it's never that easy in the NFL for any team, nor for any team against the Patriots. The Jets, whose last win over the red-white-and-blue team from up Route 95 came at MetLife in 2015, want to continue their winning ways in the division, which began with their 40-17 triumph over the Dolphins three weeks ago. They are eager to try to open a three-game lead on the Patriots for the first time since the 2000 season.
Yet the Green & White will be without rookie phenom RB Breece Hall and versatile second-year OL Alijah Vera-Tucker for the rest of the year after they suffered injuries at Denver. Cedric Ogbuehi, a first-round pick of the Bengals in 2015 who counts the Jets as his fifth pro team, will make his first start in green Sunday at RT, and all he's got to do is slow down the NFL's leading sacker in red-sleeved LLB Matt Judon. WR Corey Davis (knee) will miss his second game.
It sounds challenging, but as they say around the NFL, you can't eat an elephant all at once. You need to take it one bite at a time. The Jets are focused not on their New England rivalry but on what they've got to do to get that next victory. Hall is gone but an RB group led by Michael Carter and Ty Johnson and newly acquired James Robinson are ready to probe the Patriots' run defense. Davis is out but the wideout corps will have Elijah Moore back after a game away and Denzell Mims active for the second consecutive week.
See the players arriving for the Week 8 home game.
The Jets defense, meanwhile, is set to flex its muscles some more, this time against the Patriots' offense, which reportedly will be led by second-year QB Mac Jones although Belichick wouldn't commit during the week to Jones or rookie Bailey Zappe as his starter. Whoever is behind center, Jets D-linemen Quinnen Williams, Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers are set to pressure the Pats, MLB C.J. Mosley to tackle them and CBs Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed to cover them and separate them from thrown footballs.
Two added elements to intrigue Jets fans this week: One special treat will be the halftime ceremony to induct former Jets T D'Brickashaw Ferguson into the Ring of Honor. With "Brick" on the roster from 2006-15 — as well as C Nick Mangold and CB Darrelle Revis, other stars on the roster of that period who are Ring of Honor inductees this season — the Jets defeated the Patriots seven times. Since 2015, they have no wins.
Ferguson's presence, plus an expected loud and proud home crowd, signaled to their seats by intriguing element No. 2 —a noon fireworks display —can't hurt at all as the Jets tackle the Patriots for the first time this season.
These are the Jets' seven inactives:
- QB Chris Streveler
- QB Joe Flacco
- S Tony Adams
- RB Zonovan Knight
- CB Bryce Hall
- DL Jermaine Johnson
- WR Corey Davis
And this is the Patriots' six-man inactive list, which includes three starters, C David Andrews, DT Christian Barmore, and S Kyle Dugger:
- S Kyle Dugger
- CB Shaun Wade
- RB Kevin Harris
- C David Andrews
- DT Christian Barmore
- DT Sam Roberts