Robert Saleh
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets have had a rough month. Poor play from Zach Wilson, a rib injury to Mike White, and a dreadful three-game losing streak have set the team back in the AFC Playoff race. The Jets are .500, the ninth seed in the conference, and the AFC East’s last-place team.

It’s desperation time in Florham Park. Thursday night’s matchup with the visiting Jaguars is a must-win.

With the season on the line, Wilson will have a major opportunity once again. He’s starting for the second straight game in the absence of White and will have another shot to snag a huge victory and solidify himself as the team’s starter moving forward.

The young passer needs to take advantage of this moment and ultimately outplay Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the only person drafted ahead of him in 2021.

Jets vs Jaguars

When: Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022.
Where: MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET.
TV: Amazon Prime Video // FOX (local).
Radio: ESPN Radio New York 98.7 FM.

Keys to victory

Disrupt Lawrence. The Jaguars are 10th in the NFL in passing but second-to-last in pass block win rate, per ESPN. If the Jets can just unleash their pass rushers on this Jacksonville front, they’ll be able to limit the effectiveness of Lawrence (3,520 yards, 24 touchdowns this season).

Win the ground game. The Jets need to not only take out the Jaguars’ strong run game (10th in the league), but they also must establish their own run game to construct long drives.

Points, points, points. One of the Jets’ main issues this entire year has been putting points on the board. They’re 23rd in that category and have scored 20 or more points in only half of their games. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur needs to address these woes so the unit can keep up with a Jaguars team that’s averaged 29.5 points per game over the last four weeks.


Zach Wilson. Again.

The kid has another huge opportunity. A poor performance and loss would send him to the bench, possibly for good. An impressive victory, on the other hand, would keep him in the lineup.

The fate of Wilson’s Jets tenure could be decided Thursday night.

Did you know?

A win would give the Jets their first eight-win season since 2015, when they finished 10-6 behind quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and head coach Todd Bowles.

Although eight wins won’t be enough for the team’s first playoff berth since 2010, it’ll at least be progress after the Jets combined for six wins from 2020-21.

The pick

The Jets need to keep up with a Jaguars offense that’s been red hot. Unfortunately, they need to do it with a shaky young quarterback, a struggling offensive coordinator, and various injuries on that side of the ball. The injury list includes receiver Corey Davis (concussion), receiver Denzel Mims (concussion), tackle Duane Brown (shoulder), and tackle George Fant (knee). And they also need to do it on a short week. In front of disappointed fans at MetLife Stadium, the Jets should lose their fourth straight. Jaguars 28, Jets 17.

Follow ESNY on Twitter @elitesportsny

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