The New York Jets enter a hostile AT&T Stadium for the Dallas Cowboys home opener a distinct underdog Sunday in Week 2 of the NFL season. This despite a rousing 22-16 overtime win against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1.
Though they would have been underdogs anyway, heading into Dallas without Aaron Rodgers puts the Jets in a very tough spot against an elite defense that was dominant in a 40-0 Week 1 win at the New York Giants.
With Rodgers done for the season after Achilles surgery, Zach Wilson, who failed miserably as QB 1 the past two seasons, is again the Jets starter. He did just enough good things, backed by a stout defensive effort, to help lead the Jets back from a 13-3 hole and win at home Monday. But he'll need to be a difference maker, not just a game manager, if the Jets hope to defeat the Cowboys this week.
That said, let's examine four bold Jets predictions for Week 2 against the Cowboys.
Micah Parsons will dominate, have two sacks for Cowboys against Jets
The Cowboys sacked Giants quarterback Daniel Jones seven times last week. Defensive end Dorance Armstrong and interior lineman Osa Odighizuwa each had two, and stud edge rusher Micah Parsons had one sack, one QB hit and six QB pressures. Their team pressure rate was a whopping 62.2 percent.
This week, it'll be Parsons' turn to sack the QB two times. He'll be too much for Jets left tackle Duane Brown to handle and Parsons will look every bit the All-Pro he is.
Look for the Cowboys defense to ring up five sacks this week. Wilson will be elusive enough to avoid several more but will be dodging pressure all afternoon.
Dalvin Cook will rush for more yards than Breece Hall of Jets, Tony Pollard of Cowboys
The Jets offensive line struggled in pass protection right off the hop against the Bills — look no further than Rodgers tearing his Achilles on a sack four plays into the game — but got better as the game progressed. That unit, though, did open some holes for Breece Hall to explode through in the running game.
New York rushed for 172 yards in the opener, including bursts of 83 and 26 yards by Hall. The line opened holes with the aid of some terrific blocking by tight ends Jeremy Ruckert, C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin.
"The league is better when Aaron Rodgers is on the field. It's bad that he went down so early, the people didn't get to see what we've been working on this whole time."
Dalvin Cook on Rodgers going down with the injury pic.twitter.com/ygW9YTvQ36
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) September 12, 2023
That’ll be the game plan again this week. Rely on the run game to tone down the Cowboys pass rush and take pressure of Wilson. New York will have success running the ball, though not as much as last week.
Look for Dalvin Cook (33 yards on 13 carries in his Jets debut) to rush for 65-70 yards this week and outgain teammate Hall and Cowboys featured back Tony Pollard. And expect Cook to see the ball often in the passing game on screens and quick hits.
Neither Zach Wilson nor Dak Prescott will have big game in Week 2
As stated earlier, Wilson will be under siege Sunday, meaning plenty of short passes, screens and dump offs. Last week he did get the ball downfield twice for 20-yard-plus gains to Allen Lazard. It’s going to be hard for him to duplicate that, much less achieve even more success against the Cowboys defense.
— NFL (@NFL) September 13, 2023
But this is not going to be picnic for Dak Prescott either. Prescott didn’t need to be great in last week’s rout against the Giants and he wasn’t. He did have a big 49-yard completion to CeeDee Lamb but otherwise had a quiet game, due, in part, to stripped-down playcalling after the special teams and defense helped Dallas secure a big lead.
Prescott will be under the gun this week. The Jets sacked Josh Allen five times Monday and were in his face all night, leading to four turnovers (three picks, one fumble). Prescott is going to be hit often, especially with Carl Lawson expected back in the Jets lineup. The Cowboys thus must establish their running game, not dissimilar to the Jets plan on offense.
The difference here is that Prescott, despite a couple turnovers, will make bigger plays in key moments for the Cowboys than Wilson will for the Jets.
Jets hang tough but lose to Cowboys in Week 2
Even before Rodgers was injured, this never felt like a win. Without him, well …
Though they won’t be embarrassed like their co-tenants at MetLife Stadium were last week, the Jets also won’t defeat the Cowboys either. And if they’re without their unsung hero, kicker Greg Zuerlein, who has a groin issue, the Jets are really going to be in a tough spot.
Cowboys 23 – Jets 10.