Week 2 in Jerry Jones World promised Aaron Rodgers versus Dak Prescott with Rodgers going up against his old head coach from Green Bay Mike McCarthy, but all of that promised narrative disappeared in four plays on Monday night in the Big Apple when Rodgers was injured and was gone for the season leaving the Jets regressing to Zach Wilson at quarterback.
That was quite some blow for the Jets franchise that had appeared to have the building blocks in place last season to progress with Rodgers becoming the final piece of the jigsaw in an increasingly competitive AFC. Miraculously, without Rodgers and with their defence really stepping up the Jets still won beating their divisional rivals the Bills with a 65-yard punt return touchdown in overtime. So, no shortage of drama and spectacle in the season opener for the Jets.
It was quite a different story for the Cowboys who trounced the other New York franchise, the Giants 40-0 on Sunday Night Football. The Dallas defence was disruptive to say the least recording seven sacks, two interceptions, forcing five fumbles (recovering four), and scoring touchdowns on both defence and special teams. Week 2 has been kind to the Cowboys of late. They have won five straight games in the second week of the season and eight of their past 10. The last time the Jets started 2-0 was 2015.
When you look at this game your first thought is two strong possibly elites defences facing two offences that have deficiencies especially in the case of the Jets without Rodgers.
A lot of this game will depend on how Zach Wilson plays at quarterback and without being unkind he’s hardly looked the part so far hence the Jets pursuit of Rodgers. Wilson will also be operating behind an offensive line that ranks 28th in sacks given up per pass attempt and 30th in pressure percentage given up. Wilson tends to hold the ball too long; his 3.29-second release time in Week 1 was the slowest among qualified passers. The Jets offensive line isn’t good enough to hold their blocks that long against a fierce rush led by the most elusive rusher in the NFL Micah Parsons. It will be no surprise to see Wilson sacked on numerous occasions.
If the Jets offensively are to have a chance then they will have to run the ball effectively and that effort will fall squarely on the shoulders of running backs Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook behind at offensive line that ranked last in pass block win rate but ranked 15th in run block win rate. Hall produced 147 total yards on 11 touches against the Bills on Monday night whilst Cook looked very ordinary and he’ll need to step up on that effort here if the Jets are to chew the clock, give Wilson a chance and give the defence a rest.
Wilson finished Monday night with just 140 yards passing on 21 attempts with one touchdown and one interception and we can only expect a similar scenario and return here which doesn’t augur well for any of the Jets wide receiver especially the talented Garrett Wilson. Zach Wilson had an average depth of target of 4.2 yards in Week 1 and New York was forced to run the ball 28 times — 52.83% of their offensive snaps, so it’s hard to see any deep threats emerging from the Jets offence which will be more of the dink, dunk and run variety. No Giants pass catcher topped 36 receiving yards against the Cowboys defence in Week 1.
So, what of the Cowboys offence which really hasn’t been tested as yet against a top-class defence and that’s what they will be meeting here, with the Gang Green defence limiting the potent but mistake riddled Bills offence to only one touchdown and three field goals while intercepting Buffalo QB Josh Allen three times and forcing two fumbles (one lost). The Cowboys led 16-0 in the first quarter, 26-0 at the half then just ran a very simple playbook in the second half with Dak Prescott sitting out the fourth quarter.
In fact, Prescott threw for just 143 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and Prescott has struggled with that facet of the game leading the NFL in interceptions last year and like Wilson he’s going to have to operate behind an offensive line that does have some potential injuries worries (both star guards are questionable).
Like the Jets I feel that the run game is going to be key for the Cowboys especially as if they do try and move the ball through the air consistently they will be attempting to take on the Jets ball-hawking defence led by shutdown corners Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed. With Zeke Elliott gone this is really the Tony Pollard show in the Dallas run game and they can use him to control this game and avoid giving the Jets secondary a chance. Pollard if he gets near the goal line looks a very promising touchdown scorer play after he handled the ball six times inside the opposing 10-yard line in Week 1.
Dallas will need to provide some balance on offence via the passing game and if wide receiver Brandin Cooks misses this game then it would be interesting to see where Prescott’s main targets would be. CeeDee Lamb playing from the slot would have the best chance of avoiding the coverage of Gardner and Reed whilst tight end Jake Ferguson looks to have a shot at being involved in plenty of the Cowboys offensive work based on the Week 1 Cowboys playbook.
Defences are the key to this game and since Rodgers was ruled out the total has plummeted down to one of the lowest of the week and that’s not surprising as they both finished last year among the Top 5 in opponent TD rate inside their own 20-yard line and forced a ton of field goals, with New York producing a league-high 2.5 FGAs per game and Dallas close behind at 2.3. Touchdowns could well be at a premium in this game that has seen the Cowboys go from -3 to -8.5 favourites that’s how much Rodgers was worth to the Jets.
Even though the Jets defence is a tough ask for the Cowboys it’s hard to see the Jets generating enough on offence with Wilson at quarterback to get to 2-0 and it will be the Cowboys who carry that record into Week 3 keeping up their healthy Week 2 record from past seasons.
BACK Tony Pollard over +69.5 rushing yards 2pts at 10/11 (⭐
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BACK Tony Pollard to score a TD anytime 2pts at 5/6 (⭐
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BACK Breece Hall over +36.5 rushing yards 1pt at 10/11 (⭐
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PROFIT/LOSS (SEPT 2023): LOSS -0.21 points