Sunday afternoon the Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets will face off at Lumen Field in the matchup made possible by the 2020 CBA and the expansion to a seventeen game season, as this is the extra interconference game added. It’s a crucial game for both teams, as seasons which started with six wins in the first nine games have gone off the tracks and both squads sit at 7-8 and needing help to make the playoffs.
It’s a matchup that is intriguing for several reasons, if for nothing more than the number of very good, young players on both rosters, whose names could be heard for years to come. Joining Field Gulls this week is MacGregor Wells of Gang Green Nation, who provided fantastic answers to the questions posed of him.
1. Similar to how the Seattle season has gone off the tracks, the Jets have lost five of six since their bye in Week 10, including four in a row. What happened during the bye week that has led things to go sideways so quickly?
I’m not sure the bye week was really the turning point for the Jets. I would point to a couple of weeks earlier, the Week 7 Jets game against the Denver Broncos. The Jets lost their best offensive lineman (Alijah Vera-Tucker), their best running back (Breece Hall), and their 2nd best receiver (Corey Davis) to injury, all in Week 7. Hall and Vera-Tucker were lost for the season, which pretty much destroyed the Jets’ running game. Davis wasn’t back in the lineup until Week 12. Davis, in addition to being the Jets’ 2nd best receiver, is also the Jets’ best blocking receiver, which also hurt the Jets’ running game. The Jets lost to the Patriots in Week 8, then played their best game of the season and beat the Bills the following week. After that it was all downhill for the Jets. An inability to run the ball put more of a burden on Zach Wilson at quarterback, and he crumbled. Mike White replaced Wilson for a few games, but faced the Vikings and the Bills on the road. Those aren’t games many NFL teams would be favored in on the road. Bottom line, without a running game, and without a stud quarterback, the Jets are offensively challenged, with a razor thin margin for error. The path to victory for the Jets since week 7 has been for the defense to shut opponents down and the offense to score just enough to win if the defense is close to perfect. That formula has resulted in a series of close Jets losses, until last week, when the defense finally fell short, and the Jets were soundly thrashed.
2. In recent seasons the Jets have added some Seahawks fan favorites, including George Fant, D.J. Reed and Duane Brown. How are those players doing for the Jets and are they as well loved as they were in Seattle?
D.J. Reed is playing very well opposite Sauce Gardner at outside cornerback, and Jets fans love him for it. Jets fans believe Reed and Gardner give the Jets the best outside cornerback tandem in the NFL. George Fant had a good year last year for the Jets, but otherwise has been a disappointment. He is ineffective at run blocking and, outside of last year, he is ineffective at pass blocking. Jets fans are mostly looking forward to Fant being an ex-Jet, though the Jets don’t currently have much to replace Fant with at offensive tackle. Duane Brown was an emergency replacement when the Jets’ top four offensive tackles all went down with injuries at one point this season. He has performed pretty much like an emergency replacement. Brown hasn’t been awful, but he hasn’t been good. Like Fant, Jets fans are looking forward to replacing Brown in short order.
3. We know the big names, including Sauce Gardner, Quinnen Williams, Garrett Wilson and the like, but who is a lesser known player on either side of the ball that Seahawks fans may not be familiar with, but who could play a significant role in the outcome of the game?
On offense Zonovan Knight is far from a household name, but he has been doing good things at running back for the Jets. Knight is a rookie UDFA who was promoted from the practice squad a few weeks back and quickly took over the top running back role for the Jets. He’s struggled a bit in the last week or two, but overall Knight has been a pleasant surprise for the Jets and he should have the most touches out of the backfield for the Jets on Sunday.
On defense watch out for Bryce Huff. He is strictly a pass rush specialist, so he isn’t on the field all that much. But when he’s out there he is lightning quick around the edge and he puts a ton of pressure on quarterbacks.
4. Seahawks fans were lucky to enjoy what was basically two decades of Matt Hasselbeck and Russell Wilson, while in roughly the same time frame the Jets have drafted Chad Pennington (1.18, 2000), Kellen Clemens (2.49, 2006), Mark Sanchez (1.5, 2009), Geno Smith (2.39, 2013), Christian Hackenberg (2.51, 2016), Sam Darnold (1.3, 2018) and Zach Wilson (1.2, 2021). What seems to be the prevailing sentiment among fans regarding how to address the quarterback position in the offseason, as Wilson seems unlikely to be the answer at this point in time?
There are still a few Zach Wilson fans, but they are becoming increasingly scarce. Jets fans are mainly divided into two camps. Some think Mike White has shown enough that he should be re-signed in the offseason (he will be an unrestricted free agent) and go into camp as the presumptive starting quarterback. Others think the Jets need to bring in a veteran via trade or free agency to at least compete for the starting position, and, depending on the veteran, be the presumptive starter. Names like Derek Carr, Jimmy Garropolo, and Jacoby Brissett have been debated on Gang Green Nation. There are a few who think the Jets should draft another quarterback high in the 2023 NFL draft, though this is not currently a position held by a substantial group of Jets fans on Gang Green Nation. Most Jets fans feel this team is finally talented enough that a solid veteran might take this team on a deep run in the playoffs, and they aren’t interested in gambling this window of opportunity on yet another raw rookie quarterback.
5. Whether or not DraftKings Sportsbook is correct in having the Jets as favorites, the Over/Under of just 42.5 means they are expecting a low scoring affair. What’s your prediction for the game, and do you see these two teams putting up enough offense to hit the Over?
I think a low scoring game seems probable. The Jets’ defense has held opponents to 20 points or less in 10 of the last 12 games, and the Jets’ offense has scored 22 points or less in 8 of the last 9 games, so from the Jets’ side, this should be a low scoring game. In addition, the Seahawks defense has held opponents to 24 points or less in 8 of the last 10 games, so I don’t expect the offensively challenged Jets to suddenly explode here. The only question is the Seahawks’ offense, which has been explosive at times, though the offense has struggled a bit recently. It’s possible the Seahawks offense could explode, but I’m betting that won’t happen against a very good Jets defense. Bottom line, I’d say take the under at 42.5 points. I’d also say that following betting advice from me is not a wise choice lol.
As for my prediction for the game, I’m not overly confident a collapsing Jets team is a good bet on the road in Seattle, a notoriously difficult trip and venue for visiting teams. Let’s say Seahawks 17, Jets 16, and I really hope I’m wrong.
This post is brought to you by DraftKings Sportsbook.