Zach Wilson and the Jets are still searching for their first win of the season. New York's matchup in Week 3 may prolong that journey for at least another week.
The Jets are traveling to Denver for a showdown with the undefeated Broncos on Sunday, a chance to shock some doubters and turn their season around against a formidable foe.
On the other side, Denver is coming off wins against the Giants and Jaguars, sitting pretty at 2-0 on the year. In other words, they've taken care of business against lesser opponents, winning games that they should be winning.
You can argue that the Jets fall into that same category for the Broncos. Gang Green is a team that entered this campaign with low expectations featuring a roster filled to the brim with young and inexperienced players. The postseason wasn't necessarily part of the plan this year. Pieces under first-year head coach Robert Saleh aimed to accelerate the early stages of a rebuild.
That doesn't mean this will be a cake walk for Denver, though. Several aspects of New York's losses to Carolina and New England have been foundational pieces to build on and carry into Week 3, promising performances that show this unit can still be competitive throughout this season.
As you get set for kickoff later this afternoon, here's a look at my prediction for how this contest will transpire.
Max Goodman's prediction: Jets 13, Broncos 27
Last week, I thought New York was going to record their first win of the season on their home turf. I'm not making that same mistake two weeks in a row as Gang Green takes on an undefeated opponent.
Sure, I think we'll see more improvements across the board—strides from Zach Wilson, flashes in the pan within different position groups and more growth from this coaching staff—but it won't be enough to take down the Broncos on the road.
Denver is coming off a game where they handled Jacksonville's Trevor Lawrence with ease. Von Miller had a sack while the defense had two interceptions, holding the No. 1 overall pick to just 118 passing yards. It can't be much worse than Wilson's four-pick performance against the Patriots, but it's hard not to envision the rookie turning the football over at least once.
Let's give some credit to the offensive line, a unit that was very solid last week against New England. If they put together another complete game without Mekhi Becton, establishing the running game early, I'll have more faith in that group going forward. It's too early to bank on that happening, though, especially against a defense that has allowed only 67.5 rushing yards per game so far this year (fourth-best in the NFL).
Expect another slow start for the Jets. The offense might need a quarter or two before they get into the end zone while the defense will slowly adjust to Teddy Bridgewater's execution in the pocket.
Again, the focus here should be on how certain young players perform and where their development stands. I think we'll see a solid game from wide receiver Elijah Moore, who hasn't broken out just yet. Factor in the Denzel Mims situation with Jamison Crowder's groin injury and Moore could be Wilson's top target on Sunday along with Corey Davis.
On defense, will the young defensive backs contain wideout Courtland Sutton? Can the boys up front limit Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams? Those three, to name a few, have been dangerous for Denver to start this season.
I wouldn't be astonished if the Jets get blown out by even more than my predicted score, but who knows. Maybe they'll make it a one-possession game by the end. Either way, Gang Green will still be winless heading into Week 4, losing their first three games for the third straight season.
Related reading to get you ready for Jets-Broncos:
- Defending Teddy Bridgewater Will Be 'Good Test' For Jets' Defense
- Jets Preparing to Protect Against Von Miller: 'A Huge Challenge'
- Why Jets Fans Shouldn't Panic About New York's 0-2 Start
- Zach Wilson Brushes Off 'Nagging' Groin Injury