The Jets (3-4) at the Chicago Bears (3-3) at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, Oct. 28, at 1 p.m. ET.
The bright side is that this could be a lot worse. It's Chicago in late October, and a storm system is moving through, so if it's not dropping snow then consider it a win. However, even with temperatures in the low 50s, there are thunderstorms expected throughout the morning and they certainly could linger into the afternoon. And the winds will be whipping -- 15-20 mph. Sounds like last week at the Meadowlands (only slightly warmer), and the Jets remember how that went.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Jets are staying strong and keeping up the belief -- and insistence -- that they're not the "same old Jets." They've vowed that this year's 3-4 record won't spiral into 5-11 the way it did last year. What would make everyone feel more confident about that? A win against a team they're not supposed to beat. They blew a shot at that last Sunday against the Vikings, but they have another shot at it in Chicago.
The Bears may only be 3-3, but keep in mind one of their losses was by a point at Green Bay in the season opener, and the other was last week against New England by a touchdown -- and they came within an inch of tying it on a Hail Mary on the last play of the game. So yeah, this is a big step up in class again for the Jets. A loss is expected. A good showing would be nice. A win, though, would make them .500 at the halfway point, and they'd have to be considered legitimate contenders in the second half.
PLAYER TO WATCH: RT Brandon Shell
Why? Because he would've gotten the brunt of the responsibility of stopping Khalil Mack, the Bears' $141 million pass-rushing force and one-man wrecking ball. The good news for Shell is that Mack is inactive for the game as he nurses an ankle injury. Kylie Fitts is now active for the first time in his career. Shell will surely get plenty of help, most likely from the Jets' small army of tight ends.
Sam Darnold has been good at getting out of trouble and creating plays outside the pocket, and he's in luck now that Mack won't be chasing him -- even at less than 100 percent -- which would've been an issue for a rookie quarterback. There's no way the Jets could have completely stopped Mack.
Darnold had his worst game as a pro last Sunday on a cold and windy day against one of the best defenses he's faced all season. Now he's facing another strong defense (maybe even a better one) on a slightly warmer day with probably just as much wind, only on the road. That doesn't sound like a recipe for a bounce-back game. Remember, he's still not getting WR Quincy Enunwa back from injury, and now he's lost RB Bilal Powell for the season. On a team that didn't have great weapons to begin with, now the rookie quarterback is even more shorthanded than he was before? That's a huge problem.
Also a problem is that the Bears offense, behind quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, has been surprisingly strong. They average 28.3 points per game -- sixth in the NFL -- and they're ranked 11th overall. They're strongest on the ground behind the 1-2 punch of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, so the wind might not be enough to knock them off their game either, especially the Jets' defense struggling with injuries too. A few weeks ago, the Jets might have been able to put up more of a fight in this game. But their injuries really hurt them in the key spots. Add in the bad matchup, the weather, the road, the Jets' momentum going in the wrong direction … there's just nothing to like about this game from the Jets' perspective. … Bears 31, Jets 16.
MY RECORD: 3-4
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO WIN: 1-2
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO LOSE: 2-2