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NY Post
New York Post
9 Sep 2023

NextImg:Five bold Jets predictions for 2023 NFL season: The ‘Aaron Rodgers Effect’ will take them far

The new-look Jets are nothing if not bold.

Call it the “Aaron Rodgers Effect” that barely a day goes by without referencing the Super Bowl or rewriting record books.

One year ago, it counted as “bold” just to declare that the Jets could sweep two games from the Patriots (they got swept) and win nine games (they won seven).

Both of those predictions are expected at this point.

So, what are The Post’s five bold predictions for these brash Jets and the upped ante?

A stat that recently has been making the rounds says it all: The Colts, who last played in the AFC East in 2001, have won the division six times since 1970 compared to the Jets’ two.

The days of the Patriots’ reign – 16 division titles in 17 seasons, with one for the Dolphins in between – are over, but now the Bills are the three-time defending champions.  

Aaron Rodgers is primed to lead the Jets to a big year.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

The Bills are favored to make it a four-peat, but Josh Allen no longer is the unquestioned best quarterback in the division.

Week 1 is the Jets’ chance to make a statement about a changing of the guard.

The best part of this for fans? The first home playoff game since a 41-0 trouncing of the Colts on Jan. 4, 2003, at the old Giants Stadium.

The worst part? Falling one win short of the Super Bowl for the fifth time since 1982. The AFC is just too loaded.

What an encore to his Offensive Rookie of the Year honor.

Don’t be fooled by the award’s name: Offensive Player of the Year has become Best Non-Quarterback of the Year because MVP almost always is a quarterback.

Wide receivers Michael Thomas, Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson are three of the last four winners.

Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is poised for a huge second season.
Robert Sabo for NY Post

There are other receivers who enter the season as likelier choices than Wilson – Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs – and running back Christian McCaffrey is always a threat if he stays healthy.

But the possibilities are endless for Wilson after he had 83 catches for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns last season with the Jets’ quarterback carousel, and then earned Rodgers’ trust with his route-running, athleticism and sure-handedness during training camp.

Can Wilson top 100 catches and 1,700 yards? That’s probably the minimum needed to enter the conversation.

Those two records belong to Ryan Fitzpatrick (31 touchdowns in 2015) and Joe Namath (4,007 yards in 1967).

Rodgers has thrown 31 or more touchdowns seven times in 15 years as a starter, including as recently as his 2021 MVP season.

Aaron Rodgers looks to pass before a preseason game in August 2023.

Aaron Rodgers looks to pass before a preseason game in August 2023.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

He has topped Namath’s mark nine times – all but one of which were before the NFL expanded schedules from 16 to 17 games and made records easier to break.

All that said, Rodgers is coming off a “down year” of 26 touchdowns and 3,695 yards with the Packers when he played through a broken thumb while throwing to mostly unproven receivers, so a return to greatness count is no guarantee.

Hey, it can’t be all smooth sailing, right?

As head coach Robert Saleh likes to say, adversity is going to strike at some point.

Hall has said the right things since the Jets signed Cook, but he wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a timeshare when tweeting his true feelings after the Jets were (falsely) rumored to be in the Ezekiel Elliott sweepstakes.

Breece Hall; Dalvin Cook

Breece Hall (l) and Dalvin Cook (r) hope to form a top running back duo.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Cook is playing nice for now, too, with a team-first attitude, but he is a four-time Pro Bowler looking to prove the Vikings wrong for cutting him and earn another multi-year contract somewhere.

Is either of these alphas going to be happy with a reduced role when the other has the hot hand? Who is scoring touchdowns by the goal line?

It’s nice to have an insurance plan against injury – especially with both coming off of surgeries – but if they stay healthy, the potential to rock the boat is there.

A lesser player than both – former 1,000-yard rusher James Robinson – spoke out last season when his role was diminished after a trade to the Jets.

Striving to be the No. 1 defense in the NFL wasn’t enough for the Jets, who ranked  No. 4 in total yards allowed and No. 4 in points allowed last season.

A deeper dive into the numbers, though, shows that the Jets benefited from facing six backup quarterbacks.

Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner during a preseason game in August 2023.

Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner during a preseason game in August 2023.
Bill Kostroun for New York Post

No matter: Cornerback D.J. Reed predicted the defense could be as good as the 1985 Chicago Bears or the 2010s Seattle Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom.”

Our call? A 10-deep defensive line that is the best in the NFL and a secondary led by Sauce Gardner and Reed pushes the defense into the NFL’s top-two (along with the 49ers), but it is not a unit to remember forever like Reed’s comparisons.