Two rookie quarterbacks will take the field on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, suiting up for their first taste of the historic Jets-Patriots rivalry.
Only one of them will come away with their first NFL victory.
Will it be Mac Jones that leads his team to a win in Week 2? The Patriots' signal-caller had a promising debut in New England's Week 1 loss to the Dolphins, building on a strong offseason where he took command of the starting job.
Or will Zach Wilson lead his club to their first win of the year, giving Jets fans in attendance something to cheer about? Wilson showed flashes of greatness during last weekend's loss in Carolina, nearly pulling off a dramatic second-half comeback, but couldn't overcome a slow start rooted in a lack of pass protection and consistent pressure.
Far more than just the play of these two quarterbacks will factor into the decision on Sunday. In fact, it's safe to say the fans in the building will play a role as well, packing MetLife Stadium to the brim for the first time since 2019.
As you get set for kickoff, and as this game gets underway, here's more on what you can expect as the latest chapter of the Jets-Patriots rivalry is written Sunday afternoon.
Max Goodman's pick: Jets 27, Patriots 24
New York was held scoreless for nearly three quarters in Carolina last week, taking a 16-point deficit into the locker room at halftime. This contest against New England is going to be a different story.
With reinforcements returning on offense (Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole), a rowdy fan base returning for the franchise's home opener and several players and coaches making their MetLife Stadium debuts, this game just means more to those in green and white.
All week long we've heard from players gushing about how excited they are to play in front of fans at home, how amped up they are to hear the J-E-T-S chants. Linebacker C.J. Mosley, who his own extra motivation to perform on Sunday, said he was going to feel chills throughout this game. He certainly won't be alone.
Last week against the Panthers wasn't necessarily the most hostile environment in football, but it showed how a home team can make life miserable for a rookie quarterback making their first road start in the NFL. That's what the Jets can do on Sunday with Jones.
All week long this team has been planning how they can exploit matchups on the defensive side of the ball, keeping windows tight in the secondary while pressuring Jones up front. There have been injuries and this unit is not as strong as it once was, but with the crowd behind them—and head coach Robert Saleh preaching all gas no brakes the entire way—you have to figure defenders will be on their game, forcing turnovers and keeping Jones from getting comfortable.
On the other side, Wilson has one game under his belt and is ready to take the next step. Corey Davis might be locked down by New England, as Gang Green's top wideout, but a supporting cast of rookie Elijah Moore, Crowder, Cole and the tight ends are eager to have their first big game of the season, providing this offense with chunk plays down the field.
Plus, even if Mekhi Becton won't be at left tackle for the next several weeks, this is the offensive line that Wilson worked with frequently when Becton was sidelined with a concussion during training camp (and his foot injury before that). The pressure is on, no pun intended, for Morgan Moses and George Fant to keep the pocket intact for Wilson—and it would be huge for the Jets to establish a running game on Sunday to open up the field more. Expect another big day from Wilson, showcasing why he has a bright future in this league.
I've got this game coming down to the wire, just like last week. Keep an eye on kicker Matt Ammendola as well. He won't be punting again this week after the addition of veteran Thomas Morstead to replace the injured Braden Mann. We'll finally get a look at the undrafted kicker's leg and after an early field goal to build some confidence, don't be surprised if he wins it for New York late in the fourth.
Related reading to get you ready for Jets-Patriots
- How the Jets Are Preparing to Face Patriots' Rookie QB Mac Jones
- Jets Are Confident That Rookie Elijah Moore Will Have 'Big Year' After Frustrating Debut
- Zach Wilson's Toughness Is Resonating With Teammates, Head Coach
- Return of Crowder, Cole Is 'Priceless' For Jets' Offense
- Jets' Wall Crumbles Against Panthers, Showing Why Joe Douglas Has Some Work to Do