Until further notice, the New England Patriots are a middle-of-the-pack AFC team. Such is life in a post-Tom Brady world.
And so, the trials (sometimes literally) and tribulations of scheduled opposing quarterbacks matter more now than they ever did the previous 20 years. The Patriots no longer create automatic victories; they must be gifted them. Easy wins — relatively speaking, obviously — could be of the utmost importance in 2022, when New England will have one of the tougher schedules in the NFL.
It’s why the Deshaun Watson suspension is so noteworthy. It sure sounds like the polarizing superstar will miss at least eight games — which is good news for the Patriots, who visit the Browns in Week 6. Moreover, prolonged struggles from the Browns, another middling team, only would help New England’s playoff chances.
That brings us to New York Jets sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson, who suffered a non-contact knee injury in Friday’s preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
After the game, Jets coach Robert Saleh indicated Wilson avoided a dreaded ACL tear. However, additional reporting paints a still-concerning picture for the 2021 second-overall pick, who might’ve suffered a PCL injury to his right knee. Wilson missed extended time last season with a right PCL sprain.
As of Saturday morning, New York hadn’t provided MRI details or an injury timeline for Wilson. But Connor Hughes of SNY reported that Wilson could miss anywhere from two to six weeks.
If that timeline proves true, Wilson should be back in time to face the Patriots.
The Jets will host New England in Week 8, roughly 11 weeks from now. The two teams then will square off again three weeks later in Foxboro, Mass., with both coming off a bye week. Even if Wilson misses the first matchup, it’s hard to envision him sitting out the second unless his knee injury proves to be more severe than initially feared.
Now, there’s another name to keep in mind regarding both the Jets and the Browns: Jimmy Garoppolo.
The former Patriots quarterback has been floated as a potential target for Cleveland in the wake of Watson’s suspension, and many already are suggesting that New York could give the San Francisco 49ers a call if Wilson misses extended time. In fact, Garoppolo has deep ties to people with the Jets.
What happens with Watson, Garoppolo and Wilson primarily concerns fans of the Browns, Niners and Jets. But Patriots fans also should start paying attention to these things, as a game or two could be the difference between Bill Belichick and Mac Jones playing in the postseason or staying home.
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