In the week leading up to the game between the Jets and the Packers, I was struck by how betting lines all had Green Bay as a touchdown favorite.
If you follow oddsmakers, you know that a spread around seven points doesn’t necessarily mean they are expecting a one score game. They need to hedge their bets for any possible scenario, and a spread in that area indicates a belief the upcoming game is a mismatch.
It is funny how our own biases can impact our judgment. Of course I thought it was possible the Packers could win this game. It was even possible they could win the game handily. I have seen eventually Super Bowl winners have a bad week and get blown out on the road by terrible football teams.
Still expecting an easy Green Bay win felt to me like people focusing only on their preconceived beliefs about these teams before the season began.
If you took somebody who only saw the five previous Jets games and five previous Packers games, I doubt they would have had such a large spread. Maybe Green Bay would have been the favorite, but no way would the line have been seven points.
These biases do exist, though. The Jets were supposed to be at the bottom of the league like they always are. The Packers were supposed to contend for the Super Bowl like they always do.
It didn’t matter that the Jets have looked improved, or that the Packers have looked like anything than a Super Bowl caliber team so far in 2022.
We are to the point of the season where preseason expectations must be reexamined. You can’t just dismiss a team’s performance with, “It’s only one game,” or, “it’s still early.”
Heading into this game there was a strong case to be made that the Jets and the Packers were on equal footing. After a dominant 27-10 victory by New York, it now looks like the 4-2 Jets are a better team than their counterparts from Green Bay.
The driving force in this win for the Jets was their defense. Speaking of misperceptions, I had all but given up on the idea of Quinnen Williams being a defense-changing star. I say that as one of his biggest defenders. Over the last few years, I have frequently argued that it was all right if he wasn’t an elite player at his position. He was still very good.
It might be time to reexamine things. Sure, we might just be seeing a hot streak or even a career year. It also might be that in year four, Quinnen Williams is putting the pieces together and becoming an unblockable force capable of elevating an entire defense.
The story of this game was the Jets defensive line dominating and constantly harassing Aaron Rodgers. No player did that more than Quinnen who had a pair of sacks, a pair of tackles for a loss, three hits, a forced fumble, and a blocked field goal on special teams for good measure.
We can’t know what the future holds, but for now Quinnen Williams has elevated his game from borderline Pro Bowler to All Pro candidate.
Williams is the leader of a defensive line that has been tough to block the last few weeks, but he isn’t the only difference maker on defense. Rookie Sauce Gardner had another stellar game and is looking every bit the lockdown corner the Jets expected when they used a top five pick on him during the spring.
Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich have taken a lot of grief from the media and the fanbase in their brief tenures. One of the most common complaints has been about the scheme they run. It’s amazing how perceptions can change as the talent level changes. Any scheme will look back when you lack the players to run it. Add in some legitimate talent, and suddenly any scheme will look a whole lot better.
On the topic of rookies performing at a high level, Breece Hall has emerged as the focal point on offense. He ran for 116 yards and a touchdown in this game, single handedly lifting the offense on a day the Jets got next to nothing out of their passing attack.
It is no misperception to say the running back position has decreased in value over the last two decades. In today’s NFL it is one of the lowest value positions on the field. Still there remain a handful of players who are capable of carrying their entire offense like the great backs from decades earlier. Hall is only six games into his career, but it looks like he might be one of them.
It is difficult to say where the Jets go from here. A few things seem clear. There is young talent on this roster moving the needle. The Jets are a competitive football team, and they will be part of the AFC Playoff race.
Considering where this team has been the last decade, this is exciting news. If the Jets continue to play like they did today, their ceiling is even higher.