Jets vs. Texans Week 12 pick and prediction

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  • Houston Texans
    Houston Texans
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  • New York Jets
    New York Jets
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  • Zach Wilson
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Zach Wilson rolls out of the pocket vs. Falcons
Zach Wilson rolls out of the pocket vs. Falcons

JETS (2-8) at Houston Texans (2-8)

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Spread: Texans -2 ½

The Jets found the softest possible re-entry point for rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, on the road against one of the worst teams in football. They could not have drawn up a less pressure-filled spot for the return of the 22-year-old.

And they really need this to work.

Because the shadow hanging over their franchise quarterback right now is the reality that the Mike LaFleur offensive scheme works. It worked with Mike White. It worked with Josh Johnson. And it worked with Joe Flacco. Not great, of course. It’s not like there were a lot of wins in Wilson’s absence.

But the offense moved better without him and all three quarterbacks played better than he did. The Jets have been hoping Wilson could benefit from a month of watching and clearing his mind. Now he has to prove that he actually did.

And there’s really no excuse – not even the loss of rookie running back Michael Carter or the absence of No. 1 receiver Corey Davis. The Jets’ running game was better with Carter, but it wasn’t what really made the offense go. And rookie Elijah Moore has surpassed Davis to emerge as the No. 1 receiver.

So Wilson should have enough against the 30th-ranked defense in the league. He doesn’t need to light it up against a vulnerable Texans secondary. But he does need to show he can efficiently and consistently move the offense. He will get better down the stretch of the season, no doubt. But he’s not likely to find an easier spot than this.

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson and offensive coordinator Mike Lafleur before the New England Patriots played the NY Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on September 19, 2021. The New England Patriots Came To Play The Ny Jets At Metlife Stadium In East Rutherford Nj On September 19 2021
Jets quarterback Zach Wilson and offensive coordinator Mike Lafleur before the New England Patriots played the NY Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on September 19, 2021. The New England Patriots Came To Play The Ny Jets At Metlife Stadium In East Rutherford Nj On September 19 2021

The real problem for the Jets, though, is what it’s been all season: Their defense still isn’t good at all. And as bad as the Texans are, they are a little more dangerous when Tyrod Taylor is at quarterback. That’s not to say he’s good: He threw three interceptions against the Dolphins in his return three weeks ago and he threw for just 107 yards in their win over the Texans last week. But he does settle their offense down.

But much like with Wilson, this should be a real easy spot for the Jets’ defense – their best change for a “get right” game on their schedule. Taylor’s upside is competence. He’s not likely to pick even their young secondary apart. And he prevents an inviting target for the Jets’ anemic pass rush too.

If defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich is ever going to get this unit to play well this season, it almost has to be now. It is the perfect storm for everyone on both sides of the ball to put together an actual good game. And while it’s hard to pick the Jets, given how bad they’ve been, they might actually be the more talented team in this matchup.

It takes a leap of faith – in both Wilson and the Jets’ defense – but it might be a leap worth taking. It also might be the last leap the Jets’ fanbase could even consider taking this year.

Pick: Take the Jets plus the 2 1/2

Prediction: Jets 20, Texans 17

My record straight up: 6-4

My record against the spread: 4-6