New York Jets fans have been buoyed by the sight of future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers returning to the practice field this week. While it by no means guarantees a return to competitive action this year, it marks a significant step forward less than three months after number 8 tore his Achilles on opening night.

And now the green half of New York will be hoping the whole team is boosted by Rodgers being back on the practice field. The Jets have lost four in a row in a difficult month, but they have a real chance to get back into the win column on Sunday against an Atlanta Falcons team that has blown hot and cold throughout this season.

The Falcons are currently in first place in the NFC South, but they don’t have a winning record and they don’t travel well. Atlanta have gone 1-4 on the road in 2023 and 2-11 over the past two campaigns. Quarterback Desmond Ridder has won just one game away from Atlanta during his short NFL career to date.

And, as we have seen throughout this season, Ridder is prone to making mistakes at inopportune times. That could bode well for a Jets defense that forced three turnovers in a tough Black Friday loss at home to the Miami Dolphins. There is no doubt that the defense continues to play hard for head coach Robert Saleh and remains the strength of this team.

The Falcons will likely look to ease the load on Ridder by handing the ball to rookie first-round running back Bijan Robinson, who is beginning to heat up again after a mid-season lull. Robinson ranks eighth in the NFL with 703 rushing yards and is averaging 5.0 yards per carry. He leads all rookies in 2023 with 943 scrimmage yards. He must be accounted for at all times.

The Jets will be hoping to replicate some of their late-game showing against the Dolphins in Week 12 when Tim Boyle connected with Garrett Wilson for a fourth quarter touchdown. Establishing and maintaining long drives has been difficult this season so some chunk plays in Week 13 would be very welcome indeed.

New York Jets Player to Watch

C.J. Mosley – Linebacker

Tackling machine linebacker C.J. Mosley was all over the field against the Miami Dolphins last week, recording 14 tackles and one pass defense. For the season, Mosley continues to lead from the front and has a team-high 114 stops in 11 games – that’s an average of 10.4 tackles per outing. Mosley will be key in slowing down what is a very good Atlanta rushing attack.

Atlanta Falcons Player to Watch

Bijan Robinson – Running Back

Atlanta’s first-rounder is an incredible athlete who can make defenders miss in both the running and passing games. Bijan Robinson is a highlight-reel player who simply demands your attention. He has been instrumental in Atlanta ranking fourth in the NFL with 139.3 rushing yards per game. And he is in good form with back-to-back games with at least 15 carries and 90 rushing yards.

Stat Attack!

Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder has never thrown a road touchdown pass on American soil. He has thrown one career touchdown pass in six career road starts (tied for second-fewest through six such starts since 1970). His only career TD pass on the road came in Week 4 of this season against the Jacksonville Jaguars – a game played in London.

Keys to the game

Win the turnover battle! That is going to be key for the Jets this weekend. Atlanta rank 26th in the NFL with a -6 differential (12 takeaways to 18 giveaways). The Jets are faring better with a -1 differential (19 takeaways to 20 giveaways). Those 20 giveaways are sixth-most in the NFL, however. If New York can protect the football, that can only help the Tim Boyle-led attack and ease the pressure on the defensive side of the ball.

Ridder will give the Jets chances to steal a turnover or two and to create a short field. Taking advantage and winning those ‘moments’ could be the deciding factors in the Jets winning for the first time since Week 8 against the New York Giants. It’s all there for the taking this week – the Jets just need to strike at the right time and maximize the opportunities that come their way.