Week 8 of the NFL season has arrived and crosstown rivals collide. The New York Jets will face off against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. The Jets enter this matchup fresh off the bye week at 3-3, while the Giants enter this matchup coming off a win against the Washington Commanders.
Today let’s take a look at the Jets’ keys to victory, x-factors, and biggest matchups to watch.
6 Notes Heading into Jets vs Giants
Jets Offensive Key: Red Zone and 3rd Down Conversion
When looking at this 2023 Jets team, the weakness has come on offense and now the question is how can they respond coming out of the bye week. The two biggest problems with this Jets offense have come in the red zone and on third down. Zach Wilson is 0-2 in his career coming out of bye weeks. He will look for his first win Sunday against the Giants.
First, in the red zone, the Jets are 5/17 this season which is only a 29.4% conversion rate. The Giants this season have allowed a red zone conversion rate of 58.3% which is 21st in the NFL. However, they have been better recently. Nathaniel Hackett and Zach Wilson will have an opportunity to take advantage of red zone chances against a defense still allowing a conversion rate of over 50% this season. For Wilson, he needs to find the open receivers inside the 20 and Hackett needs to allow Wilson to take more shots to the end zone.
Secondly, on third down the Jets have dealt with struggles that have stalled drives that looked promising. This season the Jets have a conversion rate of just 25% on 3rd down which is the worst in the league and down from a year ago where the Jets posted a 34.5% conversion rate. Along with this, first and second downs are just as important the Jets have hurt themselves with early down penalties, drops, and other mistakes setting themselves up for second, third, and long situations. The Giants enter this matchup allowing a 37.2% 3rd down conversion rate this season.
Jets Defensive Key: Cool Down Darren Waller
When the Giants made the trade for tight end Darren Waller in the offseason, expectations became sky-high for what Waller could do with the G-Men. It was a slow start for Waller but the last three weeks have been much better and he might be finding his stride. The Jets’ excellent linebacking core along with the safeties will need to slow down Waller on Sunday.
20 of Waller’s 35 catches this season have come in the last three games. Along with this, 227 of his 380 yards this season have also come in the last three games, and he finally reached the end zone last week against the Commanders. This success could be from Tyrod Taylor who has started at quarterback the last two weeks for the injured Daniel Jones. Either way, the Jets will have to slow him down.
It will be up to the linebackers and safeties for the Jets. Last year covering tight ends was an Achilles heal, this year that isn’t the case. Quincy Williams in the middle of a breakout season has been great in coverage along with C.J. Mosley. Williams has a coverage grade of 87.1 and Mosley has a coverage grade of 88.1 both ranking near the top of the league among linebackers. This trend needs to continue on Sunday.
Jets Offensive X-Factor: Breece Hall
The Jets have a few matchup advantages this week and this is one of them against a Giants run defense that has struggled this season. For the Jets, it’s all about establishing the run and getting the ball in their playmakers’ hands. Breece Hall is one of the Jets’ biggest playmakers on offense.
Hall in back-to-back weeks has found the end zone including the go-ahead touchdown against the Eagles in week six. Along with this, Hall’s 426 rushing yards rank top-10 in the NFL. His 426 rushing yards on 66 carries is good for 6.5 yards per carry and his 83-yard touchdown in week one still ranks on top of the NFL as the longest rushing touchdown this season.
This week he needs to be utilized even more and the Jets must take advantage of this matchup. Despite a better week for the Giants’ rushing defense last week against the Commanders, they still rank as one of the worst rushing defenses in football. In six of their seven games this season the Giants have allowed over 100 rushing yards. Including over 200 yards against the Miami Dolphins in Week 5. In addition, the Giants are allowing 137.3 rush yards per game which ranks 27th in the NFL.
One of Breece Hall’s biggest strengths is making guys miss and one of the Giants’ weaknesses has been tackling. Feed Breece.
Jets Defensive X-Factor: Quinnen Williams
Just about every week, Quinnen Williams is one of the main focuses up front for the Jets but this week especially if Williams steps up it will be a huge factor. After signing the big contract this past offseason Quinnen Williams hasn’t been off to a dominant start, but a solid start nonetheless. Part of the reason for this is he has been eating up double teams up front creating opportunities for other pieces of this Jets deep pass rush to get home to the quarterback.
Williams this week will be tasked with getting to the quarterback and stopping Saquon Barkley in the rushing game. Most likely Tyrod Taylor will get his eighth career start against the Jets on Sunday over Daniel Jones. Either way, the Jets and Quinnen Williams must get pressure on Taylor and take advantage of a struggling Giants offensive line. Many fans have been waiting for a Quinnen Williams breakout game this year and this could be the perfect chance.
Secondly, stopping Saquon Barkley is another huge factor in this matchup. Quinnen Williams’ run-stopping ability has always been an underrated aspect of his game. Despite only averaging 3.8 yards per carry this season, Barkley can break free at any moment. Keeping Barkley in check will allow the Jets pass rush to get home and get pressure on the QB.
Jets Offensive Matchup To Watch: Zach Wilson vs Giants Blitz
One of the biggest questions going into this game is how will Zach Wilson handle the Giants’ heavy blitz defense. Only time will tell but this matchup will be a huge factor in whether or not the Jets come away with the victory. Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is going to do everything in his power to make Zach Wilson’s day miserable.
Even though the last few weeks the Giants have played more zone and less blitzing they are still one of the highest blitzing teams in the league. Their 99 total blitzes and 41.6% blitz percentage ranks fourth-most in the NFL. Players like Kayvon Thibodeaux, Dexter Lawrence, and former Jet Leonard Williams will all look to get after Zach Wilson on Sunday.
For Zach Wilson and this Jets offense it is all about short quick passes and getting the ball out fast. Wilson has struggled mightily against the blitz in his career and this week that needs to change. Fans should get an idea early on in this contest of how Wilson is handling the blitz with his footwork and progressions in the pocket.
Jets Defensive Matchup To Watch: Jets Defensive Line vs Giants Offensive Line
As mentioned earlier, one of the advantages the Jets have is Breece Hall against the Giants’ rushing defense. However, this is an even bigger matchup that the Jets have an advantage in and it comes in the trenches. The Jets having one of the best defensive line units in football will go against one of the worst offensive line units in football in the Giants.
Even though the Giants’ offensive line has played better the last two weeks and could be getting some reinforcements that include left tackle Andrew Thomas, the Jets still have the advantage up front. Overall on the season the Giants have allowed 37 sacks this season which ranks 31st in the NFL. On top of this, Giants quarterbacks have been pressured on 109 dropbacks this season which is tied for third-most in the NFL. This Jets defense won’t help either.
The Jets this season have a 41.9% pressure rate which is the third-highest in football. To add on, the Jets have a quarterback pressure rate of 37% without blitzing which is fourth best in the NFL. The Jets have only blitzed 18.7% of the time this season which ranks second-lowest in the NFL. One of the big pieces to the Jets’ front that will want in on the action Sunday is EDGE Bryce Huff. Through six games and only 147 snaps played this season, Huff has 35 pressures which ranks top-five in the NFL.
Jets win 17-14.
Main Image: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports