Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Jets
Game Info: Wednesday, December 22, 2022 at 8:15 p.m. EST (Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ)
Pick: Jaguars (+1.5)
Week 16 kicks off in the Meadowlands, as the latest addition of Thursday Night Football features the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets. Both teams come into the pivotal matchup fighting for playoff spots, with the Jaguars vying for an improbable AFC South crown and the Jets battling for one of the AFC's final Wild Card spots.
The lead story of this game is the weather. Thursday's forecast calls for heavy rain and wind, making playing conditions extremely difficult. The over/under in this game has plummeted to 36, with pundits expecting little offense in the treacherous conditions.
The Jaguars come in as winners of three of their last four games and have second year prodigy Trevor Lawrence playing the best football of his young career. Jacksonville also has a serious shot at winning the AFC South, sitting just a game back of the Tennessee Titans.
Meanwhile, the Jets have lost three straight and have fallen out of a playoff spot, although still have a solid chance at sneaking back into the playoff picture if things fall their way in the final three weeks.
Quarterback Zach Wilson will start his second straight game for New York, with Mike White sitting out again with a rib injury.
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There is little debate that Mike White is the better option at quarterback, and most Jets fans rolled their eyes when head coach Robert Saleh announced that Wilson will get the start in Thursday's crucial game.
Wilson currently ranks 33rd in the NFL in quarterback rating with a dismal 75.3. As a reminder, there are 32 teams in the NFL. Wilson has yet to prove he is a legitimate NFL quarterback, as he's continued to struggle protecting the ball and hitting open receivers. He's shown flashes of a powerful arm and athleticism, but anyone who has watched Wilson consistently this year knows he has trouble getting the football to open receivers.
Moreover, the Jets defense, while a strength, has demonstrated a more "bend, don't break" tendency recently. The Jets defense has not forced a turnover in six straight games. They also have been unable to stop opposing offenses in critical spots, raising questions as to how truly great this defense may be.
I do expect the Jets defense to have a solid game on Thursday, going up against an improving, yet still developing, Jaguars offense. In a critical blow, Jacksonville's starting left tackle Cam Robinson will also miss Thursday's game, as he is sidelined for the year with a torn meniscus.
Still, I'm picking the Jaguars to cover here, and likely win the game. Simply put, I trust Trevor Lawrence much more than I trust Zach Wilson. Lawrence has been scorching hot of late, amassing 14 touchdowns to just one interception over his last 16 games, demonstrating why he was worthy of the first overall pick two years ago.
Wilson, on the other hand, is just untrustworthy. There is serious doubt that he's worthy of a starting role. I am much more confident in Lawrence than I am in Wilson, especially in a game with sloppy weather conditions.
I expect this game to be close and low scoring. Lawrence is much more capable than Wilson to make the few clutch plays necessary to win. In a close game in the fourth quarter I would rather have Lawrence than Wilson leading my offense. Of course anything can happen, but is much more likely Lawrence can make the big plays late than Wilson to separate the Jaguars and squeeze out a few more points. Had Mike White been starting, my pick would perhaps be different, but with the current quarterback matchup in this game, I cannot take the Jets to pull out what should be a close game and expect the Jaguars to win or, at minimum, cover the +1.5 spread.