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Jets take on Jaguars in must-win Thursday night matchup

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson runs under pressure from New England Patriots defensive end Lawrence Guy.
Jets quarterback Zach Wilson runs under pressure from New England Patriots defensive end Lawrence Guy.
AP Photo/Steven Senne

The New York Jets are fighting for their playoff lives as they head into a critical Thursday night matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and they’ll need all-hands-on-deck if they hope to make the postseason. 

Sitting at 7–7 on the year, the Jets are currently not in the playoff picture, and they have just three game left to make up ground in the competitive AFC. 

They are tied with the New England Patriots, and trail one game behind the Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Chargers for a Wild Card spot. 

Thursday marks a must-win game for Gang Green, as they will be severely limited in their playoff hopes if they are not victorious. 

Zach Wilson will start as the quarterback for the team once again, as Mike White is once-more sidelined with a rib injury. 

Wilson was benched after playing seven games this year (he missed the first three with a leg injury), and played between Week 4 and Week 11. 

The team saw success in that time, but largely had to overcome Wilson’s mediocre play. 

He was benched in Week 11 after throwing just nine completions on 22 attempts against the Patriots. 

Now, he will make his second-straight start under center for New York, after his replacement, Mike White, suffered a rib injury during the team’s matchup with the Buffalo Bills. 

White missed the team’s last game, which marked Wilson’s return, and he tossed 18 completions on 35 attempts for 394, along with two touchdowns and an interception. 

Now, he’ll face off against the Jaguars, who are led by Trevor Lawrence — the quarterback selected one pick ahead of Wilson in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Jacksonville is 6–8 on the year, and has struggled against premiere defenses in the NFL. The Jets, meanwhile, have been outstanding on the defensive side of the ball. 

Rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner, who leads the betting odds for defensive rookie of the year, has been a major factor in the team’s secondary, along with Jordan Whitehead, Lamarcus Joyner and D.J. Reed. 

“We’ve got to be able to get our minds right for the game on Thursday or what just happened is going to eat us alive the whole week,” Gardner said. “It’s pretty hard, but we’ve got to be mature adults and we’ve just got to focus on Jacksonville.”

Meanwhile, their defensive front has been anchored by Quinnen Williams (who is questionable for the game, after missing Sunday’s game against the Lions) and Sheldon Rankins. 

Collectively, the Jets have allowed just the third-least amount of yards to any opposing offense at 4,275, and the fourth-least amount of points at 263. 

That bodes well for the Jets offense — but questions remain about Wilson and the team’s offense. 

The team will need to control the time-of-possession on Thursday night, particularly with the run game. 

“We’ve got to win this week,” said  offensive tackle Duane Brown. “That’s the bottom line, that’s all we can think about.”

Last week, they recorded just 50 yards on 22 attempts on the ground, led by Bam Knight, who recorded 23 yards on 13 carries. 

With Wilson under center, the team will need to do more to keep the ball moving. 

Thursday may very well mark the turning point of the Jets season. They could put themselves on track to make the playoffs, or they could relegate themselves to obscurity once more.

For more coverage of the Jets, head to amNY.com.