The 7-8 Jets are hanging on by a thread in the AFC Playoff race after losing four straight.
In order to reach the postseason for the first time since 2010, the Jets will need to win each of their last two games while the 7-8 Patriots must lose at least once.
This rocky road to playoff football starts Sunday afternoon when the Jets face the Seahawks in Seattle. Quarterback Mike White is back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a rib injury; Zach Wilson will be inactive.
White needs to be at his best. The Seahawks’ defense is 29th in both total defense and scoring — White and the offense must take advantage of this opportunity and take pressure off Gang Green’s own defense, which Wilson failed to do as a starter.
This is arguably the biggest Jets game in years — is White, head coach Robert Saleh, and Co. up for the challenge?
Jets at Seahawks
When: Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023.
Where: Lumen Field in Seattle, WA.
Time: 4:05 p.m. ET.
Radio: ESPN Radio New York 98.7 FM.
Keys to victory
Establish the run. The Seahawks’ defense is second-to-last against the run. Whether it’s Michael Carter, Bam Knight, Ty Johnson, or any combination of the three, the Jets must utilize the ground game.
Defend the pass. The Jets need big games out of cornerbacks Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed. The Seahawks are 11th in the NFL in passing and field a Pro Bowl quarterback in former Jet Geno Smith.
Get an early lead. The Jets must put points on the board early to take pressure off a defense that’s kept them in various games this season. Taking an early lead and subsequently retaining that lead would also prevent White from needing to assume too much responsibility in the passing game.
Has to be Mike White.
The best quarterback on the roster has a great opportunity to win a crucial late-season game for this team. Not only would the Jets be taking a step toward the playoffs with a win, but White would further prove he could be the starter post-2022.
Did you know?
The Jets haven’t defeated the Seahawks since the 2004 season.
It was a mid-December Sunday: Jets quarterback Chad Pennington completed 18 of 24 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-14 win. The Jets improved to 10-4 with the victory and eventually reached the postseason as a 10-6 Wild Card team but suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Steelers in the Divisional Round.
The Jets have lost four straight times to the Seahawks since, by an average margin of 19.5 points. The latest defeat was in 2020 when Seattle routed the Jets 40-3.
The Jets are returning their best quarterback to the starting lineup as Zach Wilson heads back to the bench. Perfect timing too: they must take advantage of a weak Seahawks defense to take pressure off their own defensive unit. If Mike White and Co. put together multiple touchdown drives, the Jets’ defense shouldn’t have many issues retaining a lead – Seattle has scored only 23 combined points in the last two weeks. Jets 28. Seahawks 14.
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