Zach Wilson
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets’ offense is shorthanded, to say the least. Rookie running back Breece Hall is out for the year with a torn ACL. Starting offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker is also done for the season with a triceps injury.

Starting wide receiver Corey Davis is additionally dealing with a knee injury and has been ruled out for Sunday’s game.

This isn’t great for second-year quarterback Zach Wilson. While 4-0 as a starter this season, Wilson has completed only 57.4% of throws with a 73.6 passer rating, one touchdown pass, and two interceptions.

And on top of that, he must face a Bill Belichick-coached Patriots defense, which gave him fits during his rookie campaign.

Is Wilson up for this immense challenge? Can he and the Jets outplay their division rivals, record a fifth straight win, and improve to 6-2?

Jets vs Patriots

When: Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022
Where: MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Radio: ESPN Radio New York 98.7 FM

Keys to victory

Run the football. I feel we say the same thing with this team week-in and week-out, but it still rings true even without Breece Hall. The Patriots sport a weak run defense (25th in the NFL with 136.7 rushing yards allowed per game) — second-year back Michael Carter (and newcomer James Robinson if he plays) must take advantage of the situation.

Stop the run. The Jets need to force the Patriots to beat them through the air, where New England has struggled. The Pats are 21st in the NFL in passing and starting quarterback Mac Jones has been a shell of himself (70.8 passer rating, two touchdown passes, six picks through four games). Stop the run so the Pats are forced to win through their below-average quarterback.

Great DB play. Another solid performance from this talented secondary — which includes cornerbacks Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, D.J. Reed, and Michael Carter II and safeties Jordan Whitehead and Lamarcus Joyner — would be crucial for the Jets. Success in the deep part of the field will allow the pass rush to dominate a Pats offensive line with just a 59% pass block win rate (per ESPN).


Zach Wilson.

The kid has to show up and lead this team to a huge victory over a division rival that’s toyed with the Jets for two decades. With no Hall, no Vera-Tucker, and no Davis, he’ll have more responsibility on his hands, against Belichick no less.

An impressive performance and victory would help Wilson prove he was worth last year’s No. 2 overall draft pick.

Did you know?

The Patriots are dealing with a Mac Jones-Bailey Zappe quarterback controversy and sport a middle-tier roster, at best. Meanwhile, the Jets haven’t lost in a month.

This could be the year the Jets finally sweep the Patriots for the first time since…2000!

Yes — that’s correct. It was Belichick’s first year as head coach and Tom Brady’s rookie season. Brady wasn’t even the starter yet, as Drew Bledsoe was still under center in Foxborough.

The pick

Zach Wilson’s supporting cast is dropping like flies, which means more of the offensive pressure will be on him moving forward. He’ll need to play a lot better than he has in recent weeks.

Bad news: his first test following all of the aforementioned injuries will be Belichick and this Patriots defense. In less than two games against New England last year (he left one early with a knee injury), Wilson completed just 58.1% of his throws with zero touchdowns, four picks (all in one game), and a dreadful 37.1 rating.

Expect Belichick to continue having his way with the young quarterback, especially with numerous offensive starters now injured. Patriots 24, Jets 13.

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Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.