The NY Jets come back from the bye week with one of the most meaningful games of the season on their schedule. The 6-3 Jets head to Foxborough to play the New England Patriots after falling short to them 22-17 at MetLife Stadium just a few weeks earlier.
This game will mean a lot for their positioning in the AFC East as a win will put them in first place with the Dolphins on a bye, meanwhile, a loss will put them at the bottom of the division.
This speaks to the quality of the division and underscores the importance of winning against divisional opponents in their chase for a playoff spot.
The Jets will answer many questions with their play on Sunday. Here are three that stand out for when Gang Green heads to New England.
1. How will the NY Jets look coming off of a bye week?
This is the second year in a row that the Jets come off of their bye week and face the Patriots on the road. Not much of this season has been reminiscent of last season, so fans shouldn't expect a similar lack of preparation coming out of the bye.
It will be noteworthy to see just how much this coaching staff has improved in their preparation for a very important game with that extra time.
Bill Bellichick has had the same amount of time to game plan for the Jets, so this will be a great task for the staff going up against the legend who still seems to despise this organization.
On offense the Jets will need to be disciplined, hoping that the same run-heavy approach will lead them to success. With Bellichick typically taking away the best playmaker, look for Garrett Wilson to be targeted by the Patriots' defense.
For the Jets defensively, they'll continue riding the hot streak that they've been on. Aiming to get after quarterback Mac Jones always and often in trying to make him turn the ball over.
The staff and players alike appear to be thriving on the road as they remain undefeated (4-0), beating the Patriots would check a lot of boxes for a lot of people in the Jets organization this week.
2. Will Zach Wilson be able to right the ship against New England?
Over 40% of Zach Wilson's career interceptions have come against the New England Patriots. In a small sample size, Wilson has struggled mightly against this team.
If you took away the games against New England from his career (two games and one quarter) he would have 16 total touchdowns and 11 total turnovers.
Wilson seems to be flustered not only by what Bellichick is doing to him but the desire to make big plays has been a crutch for him against this team.
After a stretch of games where Wilson was successfully giving the team a chance to live another play, he abandonded this apporach in the second half of the Week 8 matchup against the Pats.
While there was some overreaction after the performance, this still proves to be a big game for Zach Wilson. Not only in the context of it being an important time in the season, but for him to get over this mental hurdle considering this team will be one he sees a lot in his career.
There's no need for Wilson to play hero ball, limiting mistakes will be the key to the game while making the simple throws. It will be a bit tougher with Corey Davis out.
The quarterback will need to lean on Garrett Wilson while also sticking to check-down options in the middle of the field including his pair of tight ends and running backs as well as slot receiver Elijah Moore.
Against Buffalo. he was impressive in taking what was there for him including using his legs when needed. This same level of play will be required on Sunday.
How he performs in this one will get the Jets team and fan base an indication of the type of play we could expect to see in this second-half run for the team.
3. Can the NY Jets stop Rhamondre Stevenson this time around?
During the Jets' loss to the Patriots a couple of weeks ago, Rhamondre Stevenson dominated on the ground and through the air. Stevenson accounted for 45% of the total yards the Patriots had with 71 rushing and 72 receiving yards.
The Jets will be down one of their best interior defensive linemen with Sheldon Rankins out, so they must prioritize stopping the run even more with his absence in mind.
The game plan should be simple — make Mac Jones beat you. The same way that the Patriots take the opposing team's main weapon away, the Jets should be doing the same toward Stevenson.
The dynamic duo of Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed should be able to hold up just fine against any receiver on the Patriots roster.
As long as the Jets' offense can sustain drives and keep the defense in favorable field position throughout the game, one of the hottest units in all of the NFL should be able to keep up their dominant run.