Week 13 of the NFL season finds the New York Jets taking on the NFC South-leading Atlanta Falcons this Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Sitting at 4-7, Gang Green is essentially in a do-or-die mode where they need to win every upcoming game on their schedule to remain alive in the AFC Playoff race.
Their playoff odds may be less than 1% but there’s still a path to playing competitive football for Aaron Rodgers to push to make a comeback. For that to happen though, beating the upstart Falcons will be the first step.
Atlanta may sit at 5-6 on the year, but they just beat New Orleans for the lead in the division, and have plenty of offensive firepower. Will it be enough to knock off a Tim Boyle-led Jets team?
We break down everything you need to know about the matchup here.
New York Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons
Where: MetLife Stadium
When: Sunday, December 3rd, 2023
Kickoff Time: 1:00 pm – ET
How to watch: FOX
Line: Atlanta -3.0
Keys to the Game
Stay disciplined on defense
The Jets defense was called for four different personal foul penalties in Friday’s 34-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins. As much as the defensive unit has been great this season, there is a large problem with their discipline from a weekly standpoint. Atlanta’s offense isn’t an overly special unit, but New York’s defense could give them free points if they are overly aggressive and undisciplined.
After a strong start to the year where they weren’t penalized a lot, the Jets have been among the most penalized teams since the bye week. That cannot happen if they are going to save their season on Sunday.
Stop the run
Atlanta is the third-best rushing offense in football. Bijan Robinson and Desmond Ridder are a solid QB-RB combo that can make things difficult for defenses that aren’t gap-disciplined. It also doesn’t help that New York is ranked as the 2nd worst run defense in the game – a number that the Falcons will want to exploit.
Arthur Smith has his team playing some pretty strong football and some believe the Jets’ defense has become exhausted due to the amount of pressure and plays they are under with their poor offense. Sunday could be a good reset to show those rushing numbers have more to do with the team playing from behind, than of their lack of numbers.
Look competent on offense
There’s only so much we can say about the awfulness that is New York’s offense. They are on their third quarterback of the season for the second straight year, they’ve dealt with injuries all the way through, and there’s little reason to think anything will be getting better anytime soon.
The goal for the Jets in a game like this is to look competent against a good, but not great Falcons defense. Atlanta has plenty of top defensive talent but has been thwarted by some mediocre quarterback play. Atlanta hasn’t been great at stopping the run or the pass. This is arguably the worst defense New York has seen in months – if they can’t score against these guys, it’s an even bigger indictment against the group as a whole.
X-Factor – Tim Boyle
We’ve gotten to a point this season where no matter how well the Jets play or how many yards they gain, it’s all irrelevant if the quarterback isn’t good enough to win when it matters most. At the pace the Jets are on, they will have failed to have a 2,000-yard passer in back-to-back seasons. They have had just one 3,000-yard passer in the last seven seasons.
As much as we want to highlight the defense or other players that could help the quarterback position, this level of futility is among the worst in NFL history. The more Boyle starts, the more likely it seems New York is willing to punt the remainder of the 2023 regular season away.
If Boyle plays well against Atlanta, maybe that run of futility ends, but there’s little reason to think he would.