After three long weeks for this Jets offense without its franchise quarterback, Zach Wilson is expected to make his season debut on Sunday against the Steelers. And his presence could pay immediate dividends.
New York is catching 3.5 points on the road against Pittsburgh, which has lost two straight but is still favored to win this one in a clash of 1-2 teams. Can the Jets surprise in Wilson’s debut?
Here’s how we’re betting Sunday’s contest, which kicks off at 1 p.m. ET on CBS.
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Steelers vs. Jets Prediction
Steelers vs. Jets Prediction: The Analysis
This isn’t the type of game that has you feeling great about either side, given the uncertainty at quarterback for both clubs. But I feel a heck of a lot better wagering on a returning Wilson than I do betting on a fully healthy Mitch Trubisky.
The former Bears starter has been abysmal in three games with the Steelers, and it shows in the team’s 1-2 record. Pittsburgh barely won in Week 1 despite its defense recording five takeaways and blocking a kick just to send it to overtime. The offense scored just one touchdown in that one, and it’s scored a combined 31 points in a pair of subsequent losses.
Entering this week, Trubisky ranks 22nd in QBR (43.3) and 27th in adjusted net yards per attempt (5.03), which exemplifies just how stale this offense has become in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era. It doesn’t help that offensive coordinator Matt Canada has hamstrung this offense with unimaginative play-calling – a key reason why the team ranks dead last in yards per drive (24.45) and first in three-and-outs per drive (.333).
This Jets offense has been surprisingly average on a per-drive basis under backup Joe Flacco, whose team could theoretically be 3-0 entering this matchup. Don’t believe me? In Week 1, New York out-gained the Ravens by 104 total yards and 11 first downs and still lost – something that happened just 13 times in 102 such contests last year. Last week, the Jets netted just two fewer yards and one fewer first down than the Bengals but were foiled by Flacco’s four turnovers.
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Now enter Wilson, whom many expected to make a significant leap from his rookie to sophomore seasons before an injury derailed that momentum. Still, there’s plenty of reason for optimism with Wilson at the helm of this offense that features legitimate playmakers in Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, Breece Hall, and Michael Carter. If Wilson can cut down on this team’s turnover woes? Watch out.
Pittsburgh’s defense will present an immediate test for the Jets’ second-year starter, but don’t let perception obfuscate reality. Without T.J. Watt (pectoral) in action, the Steelers allowed 46 points over the last two weeks, and they’ve lost six straight with him on the sidelines. With their offense also playing like the worst unit in football, don’t be surprised to see an outright upset in this one.
Steelers vs. Jets Odds (via BetMGM)
- Steelers -3.5 (-105), moneyline -185
- Jets +3.5 (-115), moneyline +150
- O/U 41.5 (-110)