The NY Jets have yet another pivotal week ahead of them as they got a glimmer of playoff hope from the Miami Dolphins losing in Week 16.
As the Jets have been dependent on their rookies to lead them to victory, they will once again ask their first-year players to step up to the plate in a game that has a bit more meaning to it for them personally in their claim for both Rookie of the Year awards.
Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner are both betting favorites for the award over fellow rookies in Seattle, Kenneth Walker III, and Tariq Woolen.
All eyes will be on the top rookie performers of this 2022 draft class to see who has the most impact on a game that both teams need to win to remain in the playoff landscape.
OROY Favorite: Garrett Wilson, WR, NY Jets ($GDUB)
Garrett Wilson has already broken Jets rookie records for a wide receiver and will continue to build on these numbers in the final two games of the season.
He will likely eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in this game (only four yards shy of it) and in doing so will become the first receiver to reach that threshold since 2015,
Wilson sits at 15th for receiving yards in the NFL currently. Considering the up-and-down play from the Jets' quarterback position and for him being a rookie, it's a fairly impressive stat that should be just a benchmark for him next season.
With quarterback Mike White back in the fold, Wilson should also find success. He averaged nearly 112 receiving yards in the three games where White was under center.
While Garrett Wilson might only be matched up with cornerback Tariq Woolen for some of the day in Seattle, beating the fellow rookie across the line from him will not only benefit his team but also the claim that he is on the level of Wilson's teammate Sauce Gardner.
DROY Favorite: Sauce Gardner, CB, NY Jets ($SAUCE)
Sauce Gardner will look to lock up the Defensive Rookie of the Year award this week the same way he has locked up opponents all year long. This after he already secured a pro bowl selection for his play thus far in 2022.
This week, who will go up against Gardner is still up in the air as Tyler Lockett may not be ready to go yet as he recovers from an injury. DK Metcalf and a pair of versatile tight ends in Noah Fant and Will Dissly would be the main targets for Sauce and the secondary to worry about.
Gardner will be looking for a bit of a bounce-back performance as he uncharacteristically got beat by Evan Engram for an explosive play in Week 16 against Jacksonville.
Gardner has definitely been paying attention to the hype that Tariq Woolen has gotten this season and it's very likely he will have an extra chip on his shoulder in Week 17 heading into Seattle.
The rookie out of Cincinnati could make a statement in this game. Aside from the strip sack early on last week from Quinnen Williams, the Jets have struggled over the past four weeks in getting takeaways (that was the only one in that span).
While it's hard to make game-changing plays when you aren't targeted (as Sauce was in Week 15 against Detroit), this would be a big game to get one. He hasn't had a turnover since Week 9 against the Bills.
While Geno Smith hasn't given the ball up too much this season, he's had five of them over the last five games as his play has started to decline along with the team's performance.
A strong showing from Sauce and the Jets' defense on the road could be exactly what is needed to spark some energy back into this team in hopes of a playoff push.