Aaron Rodgers is a four-time NFL MVP. Zach Wilson has been, to this point, a pretty big disappointment after being the second pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The downgrade from Rodgers to Wilson seems enormous. Unfortunately for the New York Jets, they're experiencing that downgrade.
Rodgers suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury Monday night after just four snaps as Jets quarterback. Wilson came on, mostly struggled but managed one key drive that helped the Jets to a 22-16 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills.
Wilson will start the rest of the season, the Jets say. His first test comes against a Dallas Cowboys defense that in Week 1 looked like it might be the best in the NFL. And, as one can imagine, the point spread moved a lot.
What is Jets vs. Cowboys spread?
The Jets were 3-point underdogs at Dallas before Rodgers' injury. Then Rodgers went down and the line moved to Jets +9.5.
So there is the answer. The downgrade from Rodgers to Wilson was worth 6.5 points. There are other factors, like the Jets' defense looking even better than expected in a win over the Bills and New York beating a Super Bowl contender without Rodgers, but 6.5 points is a fair answer.
Bettors obviously think it should be more, because 83% of them at BetMGM grabbed the Cowboys.
— John Ewing (@johnewing) September 13, 2023
It does seem like going from Rodgers to Wilson should be worth more than a touchdown. Perhaps way more than a touchdown. Maybe that will be proven over the rest of the season.
How will Zach Wilson fare as Jets QB?
Wilson was 14 of 21 for 140 yards against a really good Bills defense. Maybe he'll get better with a full week of practice as the starter, though the competition won't get easier. Even though Wilson's numbers could have been worse, the Jets' offense struggled most of the game. It scored one touchdown. Even when Breece Hall broke an 83-yard run, the Jets stalled and settled for a field goal.
Wilson's struggles were a big reason the Jets didn't make the playoffs last season, and a main reason the team traded for Rodgers. He still has the same physical talent that made him the second pick of the draft and perhaps his third season will be better. But he has to prove that.
Sunday's Jets-Cowboys game should have been a great one with Rodgers in the lineup. There's not that much optimism from oddsmakers or bettors that it will be close with Wilson, but the third-year quarterback has a chance to prove he can keep his team competitive this season.