The New York Jets squeezed past the Washington Commanders in Week 16, winning 30-28 on Greg Zeurlein’s 54-yard field goal with five seconds remaining. That took New York to six victories in what has been a difficult season at times, starting four different quarterbacks along the way.

That win total is a credit to head coach Robert Saleh and the spirit of his team. The Jets have a really good locker room and the team has stuck together through some trying moments in 2023. And now they have a chance to get to seven or eight victories on the year as they end at the Cleveland Browns and then at the New England Patriots.

Tonight’s game against the Browns will see the Jets take on a very familiar face in Cleveland’s emergency quarterback Joe Flacco, who has been red-hot in recent weeks; placing the Browns on the verge of clinching a playoff spot. The 38-year-old Flacco, who spent much of this season on the sofa, played for the Jets in 2020 and again, in parts of 2021 and 2022.

Flacco is not among the new age of mobile quarterbacks, so the Jets defenders know where he is going to be as they unleash their dominant pass rush. But the veteran passer has seen it all before and his form is excellent. The Super Bowl 47 MVP has thrown for at least 300 yards and two touchdowns in three straight games for the Browns.

The chink in Flacco’s armour is his confidence. He seems willing to take chances and perhaps that gives the Jets D an opportunity to strike? Flacco has thrown five interceptions in his last two games.

The Jets will be facing the best pass defense in the NFL, which makes this a massive Breece Hall game. He was outstanding against Washington last week and more of the same will be needed in Week 17.

New York Jets Player to Watch

Breece Hall – Running Back

With two weeks of the regular season remaining, no pitch count is required for Breece Hall. Give him the football and give it to him often. The Jets understand that is their best option for moving the football. Hall carried 20 times for 95 yards and two scores against the Commanders. He added 12 catches for 96 yards, giving him 32 touches for 191 yards and two touchdowns. He was the driving force of a New York attack that gained 381 yards on the day.

Cleveland Browns Player to Watch

Amari Cooper – Wide Receiver

He may not be the fastest receiver in the league nor is he the biggest and most powerful, but Amari Cooper always seems to get open and he is one of the NFL’s most productive players. Last week against Houston, Cooper caught 11 passes for a club record 265 yards and two touchdowns. The four-time Pro Bowler has been revitalized with Flacco at the helm.

Stat Attack!

Last week saw Breece Hall record his second career game with at least 95 rushing yards and 95 receiving yards in the same game. The only player with more such contests since 1950 is Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton.

Keys to the game

Make Cleveland one-dimensional… The Browns have not completely ignored the run in recent weeks, but with Joe Flacco averaging 327 passing yards per game, you can see why Cleveland has taken to the air a lot more. Flacco has brought the best out of Cooper and tight end David Njoku. The Jets have to find a way to make the Browns turn to their rushing attack. Would you rather defend a red-hot Amari Cooper or running back Jerome Ford? Sauce Gardner has a key role to play in shutting down Cleveland’s passing attack. He has not allowed a completion where he was the nearest defender in coverage since Week 14!

Control the clock… This goes back to feeding Breece Hall the rock. If he can chew up yardage and time against the Browns defense, it bodes well for the Jets in all aspects of this game. New York’s defense has been on the field an average of 65 plays per game – that’s seventh-most in the league. If the Jets are more established on offense, the defense can play fresher and be more aggressive in getting after Flacco.