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NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Jets Preview

Two teams with playoff ambitions, but currently heading in opposite directions, meet at MetLife Stadium on Thursday night when the New York Jets host the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jets sit at 7-7 and can still make the postseason if they win their last three games, but they are 1-4 since their bye week and Zach Wilson couldn't give them a much-needed offensive boost against the Detroit Lions last Sunday.

The 6-8 Jaguars appear to be in better shape after downing the Dallas Cowboys for the second win in a row at the weekend to sit just one win off the lead in the AFC South behind a Tennessee Titans team that have lost their last four.

The matchup will also be notable for the comparisons between the second-year quarterbacks with Jacksonville's Trevor Lawrence now performing at a level that meets the expectations of a first-overall pick, while Wilson's sophomore struggles lost him the starting job before Mike White was injured. 

What: Jacksonville Jaguars@ New York Jets
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
When: 20:15 ET, Thursday December 22nd
How to watch: Amazon Prime Video
Odds: JAX Jaguars -110, NY Jets -110

Wilson's woes are grounding the Jets

The quarterback story is going to be a big focus of the pre-game talk, particularly after Jets coach Robert Saleh made the move to bench Wilson after his second mistake-ridden performance of the season against the New England Patriots in Week 11.

He returned in last Sunday's 20-17 loss to the Lions because former backup White had sustained a rib injury while the short turnaround between games meant it was always likely he would start on Thursday too.

Wilson showed familiar flaws against an improving Detroit defense that got enough pressure on him in the pocket to force some rookie-like errors - including a key third-quarter interception that probably prompted a six-point swing.

The former BYU star has a tendency to double clutch, miss open men over the middle and throw the ball behind his receivers when the pocket is collapsing.

Wilson's alarming sack rate of 8.2% is more than double that of White, further illustrating his inability to make quick enough decisions to avoid pressure.

Jaguars' Jenkins enjoying career campaign

The Jaguars' pass rush is by no means stellar by NFL standards, ranking outside the top 20 for most metrics, but they could get some opportunities to make plays with Wilson notoriously slow to deliver the ball.

Rayshawn Jenkins has begun to show his playmaking ability in the Jags' secondary after Jacksonville started using him more as a box safety.

The 28-year-old has hit career-high numbers for tackles (95), solo tackles (60) and forced fumbles (2) this season while recording three interceptions, two of which in the Jaguars' overtime victory over Dallas last Sunday. 

He took the second of those picks to the house for a 52-yard score that sealed the game and Wilson needs to be careful throwing anywhere near a player of his ball-hawking skills.

QBs steer clear of 'Sauce' to pick on others

The Jets don't lack playmakers on defense, but their superstar cornerback Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner is adjusting to life as a player whose reputation goes before him.

The Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite saw no passes come anywhere near the receivers he was covering on Sunday and can expect that to be a weekly occurrence now. 

Quarterbacks are taking shots against Gardner's fellow outside cornerback DJ Reed more often than not and picking on nickel/slot corner Michael Carter II instead.

The Jets have a top-10 unit when it comes to stopping the run too, allowing just 4.1 yards per rush attempt this season, so it could be tough for the Jaguars to get much going on the ground in East Rutherford.

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Lawrence looks like the QB Jacksonville needed

However, they can feel good about Lawrence's ability to keep the chains moving - either with his arm or by using his legs.

He completed 27 of 42 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns against the Cowboys, leading the Jags on a game-tying TD drive late in the fourth quarter.

Since Week 10, Lawrence has thrown 13 touchdowns and had just one interception to rank seventh in the NFL in expected points added per play and seventh in completion percentage over expectation.

Jaguars' offense can get it done

The Jaguars' gimmicky pass offense overall ranks sixth in DVOA over that time, suggesting the points totals they are putting up on a weekly basis - 28 against the Baltimore Ravens, 36 against the Titans and 40 against the Cowboys - are no fluke.

It's a surprise that Jacksonville are a pick'em for this matchup with the slumping Jets, who are 2-5 over the last seven games.

They can even be had with a +1.0 point Spread at -110 for this game, which is almost the same as the Money Line but would ensure a payout if the game finished as a tie.

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