The Jets (4-9) and the Texans (9-4) share inverse records, but the Green & White should arrive at MetLife Stadium Saturday with some mojo while the Texans could be still smarting from their first loss in more than two months.
Last Sunday, the Green & White snapped a six-game losing streak with a thrilling come-from-behind 27-23 victory over the Bills in Western New York and Houston's nine-game win streak finally came to an end with its 24-21 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium.
"Trying to get as much momentum as we can going into next season. I think it'll be huge for this team and really awesome for us to build off a good end of the season," said Jets rookie passer Sam Darnold. "But for me, I think it's just staying consistent. That's the biggest word for me these next few games is just being a solid quarterback and someone who is able to move fast through his progressions and just stay consistent with that but also make plays when they're there."
Future on Display
Darnold became the youngest QB in NFL history to lead a game-winning drive, completing 3-of-5 passes for 43 yards in the final moments in Buffalo including a 37-yard beauty to Robby Anderson that set the Jets up with a first-and-goal.
"It's great to play beside him and to be able to play in the game with him," said rookie running back Trenton Cannon of Darnold. "The future for him is looking bright right now and all the rookies are getting better as the season goes on with the more experience we get."
After missing three games with a strained right foot, Darnold completed 16-of-24 passes with 170 yards with one touchdown and one interception in his return to action. He has earned the respect of his teammates for his no-nonsense approach and a tireless work ethic. This week, Darnold will look to find success against a defense that includes DE J.J. Watt (12.5 sacks), DE/OLBJ Jadeveon Clowney (7 sacks), OLB Whitney Mercilus (3.5 sacks) and S Tyrann Mathieu (3 sacks, 2 INTs)
"I'm very proud of him. He's got that mentality and I kind of saw that when I was in Philadelphia with Carson Wentz — they have that aura about themselves that they mean business," said safety Terrence Brooks of Darnold. "They're coming to work to get better, they're coming to work to be that type of leader… He leads by example and that's what you like."
Chance to Punch the Ticket
The Texans enter the weekend with a plethora of scenarios where they can either cement a postseason berth or even claim an AFC South title by Sunday. Texans head coach Bill O'Brien, who has led an impressive rebound following his club's 0-3 start, won't have his team overlooking the Jets.
"The Jets, I've been watching them now all morning, last night," said O'Brien, who has compiled a 40-37 mark in Houston and has the Texans on track for a third division title in five seasons. "I don't care what anybody's record is, that's the thing. These guys – if you watch, let's just say Jamal Adams. Jamal Adams, in my opinion, is just a great safety. I mean, he can run, he can hit, he can cover, he is all over the field. Leonard Williams up front, Sam Darnold, you let him escape, you let him start making plays, you're going to be in a bind. You got to stop the run. So, it's a big challenge, but I know our guys are excited for it and we've got to have a good week here."
Another Opportunity for Hewitt
While a NFL suspension will keep Darron Lee off the field for the final three games, Neville Hewitt stepped into the starting lineup against the Bills and appeared in a season-high 62 snaps. The 6'2", 234-pound Hewitt, who leads the Jets in special teams stops with 12, had eight defensive stops in Western New York and also chipped in with a half a sack.
"I think I played well. I'm real hard on myself," said the 25-year-old Hewitt. "I missed a tackle, so that's what I thought about when I went home. There is always room for improvement. That was my first time playing a lot of snaps on defense all year, so I'm gradually going to get better."
A teammate of Texans RB Lamar Miller in Miami back in 2015, Hewitt knows this Houston offense — also featuring the likes of QB Deshaun Watson and wideouts DeAndre Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas — will provide a stiff challenge.
"The opportunities only come so many times," Hewitt said of his increased role on defense. "When you do get them, make the most of them. I had fun. And every time you see me play, I'm going to have fun."
Top Photos from Wednesday's Indoor Practice at 1 Jets Drive
Shot Out of a Cannon
The landscape has dramatically changed for the Jets at running back. Bilal Powell (neck) has been on injured reserve since Oct. 24th and Isaiah Crowell departed the B-Lo game with a toe injury and did not practice early this week. Eli McGuire rushed for 60 yards against the Bills including a 34-yard scamper and scored the game-winning touchdown in the waning seconds. And Trenton Cannon, a sixth-round pick out of Virginia State, also ripped through the Buffalo defense in the second stanza for his first professional touchdown.
"It was an inside zone run, so the front five had the push and I saw the hole and I saw the end zone," Cannon said. "I hit the hole and it worked out."
Cannon, who is tied for second on the special teams unit with 10 stops, has averaged 3.0 yards per carry and added 13 receptions his rookie campaign.
"I was trying to think of a celebration and I can't dance," said Cannon of his first pro jaunt to the end zone. "I was like, 'Ah man, I don't know what to do.' I just threw the ball up in the air and I was supposed to keep it. Everybody was telling me after I threw it up that I was supposed to keep the ball. They have the ball for me and it will be painted, first touchdown with the date and all that."