Atlanta 3rd NFC South7-10
New York 3rd AFC East7-10

Atlanta @ New York preview

MetLife Stadium

Last Meeting ( Aug 22, 2022 ) Atlanta 16, N.Y. Jets 24

The New York Jets' four-game losing streak is tied for the longest active skid in the NFL. They're desperate for good news, and Aaron Rodgers is doing all he can to give them a glimmer of hope.

On Wednesday, Rodgers returned to practice, 11 weeks after he underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles. Rodgers has said he wants to return this season provided he's healthy and the team is "alive" in the AFC playoff race.

To get there, the Jets (4-7) will need to stack wins. Their next opportunity is Sunday against the visiting Atlanta Falcons in East Rutherford, N.J.

New York opened the 21-day practice window for Rodgers to return from injured reserve, and coach Robert Saleh said the four-time league MVP is cleared for "function football activity." Listed as a limited participant in practice Wednesday and Friday, Rodgers was seen throwing and practicing dropbacks.

"Instead of throwing with staff members, he's throwing with teammates," Saleh said. "There's no added risk to it. There's certain things that he's been cleared for that we're gonna allow him to do."

For now, the Falcons (5-6) merely must prepare for Tim Boyle, who will make his second start after the Jets demoted Zach Wilson from QB1 to QB3. Boyle went 27-for-38 passing for 179 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in New York's 34-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Black Friday.

Atlanta's record may not look much better than the Jets', but the Falcons are leading the NFC South after beating the New Orleans Saints 24-15 last Sunday. Atlanta is 3-0 against division competition and 2-6 against all other teams.

Desmond Ridder took back starting quarterback duties last week after a two-week benching and completed 13 of 21 passes for 168 yards, a touchdown and two picks -- including one near the Saints' goal line.

"We've got to do a better job," Falcons coach Arthur Smith said of the team's turnovers. "When we gave them the one at the 1, there were a couple of things going on there. But we've got to do a better job. When you turn the ball over, it makes life hard on yourselves."

Given the inexperienced quarterbacks in this game -- Ridder has made 13 starts in the NFL and Boyle has made just four -- individual defensive stars could have opportunities to shine.

Falcons safety Jessie Bates III was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season after scoring on a 92-yard pick-6 and forcing a fumble against New Orleans.

"You want to play your best ball around Thanksgiving, December," Bates said. "That's when good teams start to play their best ball and that's what we're doing right now."

The Falcons will be watching out for Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner -- last season's Defensive Rookie of the Year who is still hunting for his first interception of 2023 -- and veteran linebacker C.J. Mosley, who has 114 tackles (four for loss), one interception and one forced fumble.

Jets tackle Mekhi Becton (ankle, knee) will return after missing the Dolphins game. Fellow O-lineman Wes Schweitzer (calf) is questionable, along with tight end Kenny Yeboah (hamstring) and three running backs -- starter Breece Hall (hamstring), rookie Israel Abanikanda (illness) and veteran Dalvin Cook, who only appeared on Friday's injury report as a limited participant due to a shoulder issue.

The Falcons listed wide receiver Mack Hollins (ankle) and defensive back Mike Hughes (hand) as questionable.

--Field Level Media

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