Jets at Falcons Week 5 pick and prediction

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Zach Wilson prepares to throw white jersey October 2021
Zach Wilson prepares to throw white jersey October 2021

JETS (1-3) at Atlanta Falcons (1-3) in London

Sunday, 9:30 a.m.

Spread: Falcons -2 1/2

For one glorious half of football (and a little bit of overtime) the Jets looked like a really promising team last Sunday. Never mind that the Tennessee Titans were without their top two receivers or that the Jets’ offense got off to another slow start. That second half was everything.

Now the Jets have a real chance to keep that momentum rolling.

They are facing a really bad Falcons team on Sunday, one that is struggling on offense and defense and employs an aging quarterback who will be without his top receiver (Calvin Ridley) in this game. On top of that, the Jets avoid playing a true “road” game since instead of going to the Georgia Dome (or whatever it’s called now) they’ll be on neutral turf at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

Weird things have happened in the London games over the years, but the Jets won’t need to rely on weirdness to win this one.

First, the Falcons’ offense does have some potentially dangerous elements. Cordarrelle Patterson has turned into quite a weapon for them. And rookie tight end Kyle Pitts was one of the most exciting prospects in the draft back in April. He could be hard to stop if the Falcons ever figure out how to use him correctly.

So far, though, their offense has been a big, fat nothing. Quarterback Matt Ryan hasn’t been terrible, but he’s not even averaging 250 yards per game – a tribute to an offense filled with short passes and not a whole lot of looks downfield. That doesn’t figure to change much without Ridley and against a Jets defense that was excellent against the receiver-depleted Titans last week.

Even if the defense keeps the score manageable – which seems likely – this game for the Jets will still rest in the same place that every game rests this season: On the shoulders and arm of rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. If he’s the dazzling kid he was in the second half last Sunday, the Jets will win. If he’s the four-interception mess he was against the New England Patriots two weeks earlier, they won’t.

He’ll probably fall somewhere in between, but I think he’s got a chance to lean more towards the dazzling side. He’ll get rookie receiver Elijah Moore back this week, which gives him a decent array of weapons to work with. And now that Wilson has shown how dangerous he could be, the Falcons defense won’t be able to just load up the line of scrimmage. In other words, there’s a chance the Jets’ running game could even get going this week.

It's hard to bank on all that given how young the Jets are. Rookie quarterbacks, as everyone has said a million times this season, are up and down. They often follow their most dazzling displays with mind-boggling breakdowns. But for this game, against a bad team in a neutral spot, it’s easy to see how Wilson and the Jets can ride the wave of momentum.

At least a little bit. Enough to make them feel good about themselves heading into their bye.

Pick: Jets 20, Falcons 16

Prediction: Take the Jets, plus the 2 1/2

My record straight up: 3-1

My record against the spread: 2-2