Four plays.

That’s all it took for the 2023 NFL season to deliver the cruellest of gut punches to the New York Jets as superstar quarterback and future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers was lost for the year to a torn achilles.

How did the shell-shocked Jets respond? They responded like champions, rallying around young quarterback Zach Wilson on offense while unleashing a dominant defense on Buffalo’s Josh Allen, and winning the game on a massive special teams play from undrafted rookie Xavier Gipson.

With that 22-16 overtime win against a high-quality divisional opponent on the board, the resilient Jets face another huge challenge in Week 2 as Robert Saleh’s men head on the road to face the Dallas Cowboys, who were also winners in New York in Week 1.

The Cowboys demolished the New York Giants on the first Sunday of the new campaign, registering a 40-0 win behind some outstanding defensive play. When this game kicks off in Texas on Sunday night, two of the best defenses in the league will be on display.

Speaking to Jets linebacker Quincy Williams, who recorded 10 tackles in Monday’s victory over Buffalo, the Jets have not changed their goals at all for this season. Rodgers visited the players in the team facility midweek and reiterated to the squad that the ambition is still to win the Super Bowl this season.

A win in Dallas could send a serious message around the league and even though Rodgers is now sidelined, we should not forget about the high talent level on this team. Breece Hall at running back and Garrett Wilson at receiver are two stars who can help Zach Wilson prove why he was the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. And the defense has too many difference-makers to list all of them here.

Jets fans may be feeling low this week, but this team is continuing to work and is most definitely plotting to reach the AFC playoffs in January. On that front, it’s business as usual in New York.

New York Jets to Player to Watch

Breece Hall – Running Back… Last week I wrote about Breece Hall working his way back to fitness. Well, he looked pretty good in Week 1 as he rushed for 127 yards on 10 carries and added a 20-yard reception. The Jets simply must field a balanced offense for the remainder of 2023 in order to make life easier for Wilson at quarterback. Hall is much more than a serviceable support item, however. He is an absolute game-changer who can score from anywhere on the field.

Dallas Cowboys Player to Watch

Micah Parsons – Edge Rusher… The Cowboys have a game-changer of their own leading their playoff charge in explosive pass rusher Micah Parsons. There have been lofty comparisons to Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, but Parsons has made such claims credible by recording 26 ½ sacks in his first two seasons. He got his third year off to a good start with a sack in Sunday’s win over the Giants. Parsons is a player who must be accounted for on every single snap and a star who can wreck opposing game plans.

Stat Attack!

New York’s defense forced Josh Allen into four giveaways in Week 1 (three interceptions and one lost fumble). This week, the Jets face Dak Prescott, who led all NFL quarterbacks with 15 interceptions in 2022 – despite playing in just 12 games. While Prescott did not throw an interception in Week 1, he did have five multiple-interception games in 2022 – tied for the most in the NFL. You can bet your last pound that Saleh has reminded his defense of those particular facts.

Keys to the game

The Jets have to be able to run the football. As previously mentioned, that will help Wilson grow into the season at quarterback. But, more importantly, it will help to slow down a Dallas pass rush that registered seven sacks in Week 1. And it’s not just Parsons who will be the issue – five different Cowboys defenders dropped Daniel Jones last Sunday. This has to be a big game for Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook.

Coming up with timely interceptions and fumble recoveries will be another key for the Jets. Stopping the Cowboys’ attack will be the starting point. And then it will be about creating those turnovers to present Wilson and the offense with short fields. New York’s excellent defense has to power this effort on the road.

You can watch Neil present as the New York Jets take on the Dallas Cowboys live on Sky Sports NFL, Sunday at 9.25pm.