Jets-Cowboys Hot Take: Each team’s biggest X-factor on defense; Parsons vs Gardner

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 10: Micah Parsons #11 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 10, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 10: Micah Parsons #11 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 10, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

NFL Week 2 around the league feature a big-time matchup between the Dallas Cowboys (1-0) against the New York Jets (1-0) down in the Big D.  Both teams are coming off statement wins and looking to make another statement in this showdown of defenses.

In what was shaping up as an Aaron Rodgers vs Dak Prescott battle loses a bit of that pizazz on the offensive side of the football, but if you like hardnose football, both teams come into this game with physical defenses and dynamic rushing attacks.

Each team also takes pride in that physicality as this matchup will feature two of the top defenses in the NFL.  In looking at the matchup, the team that can get their running game going will likely win this game.  On paper, the advantage is Cowboys going up against an unproven quarterback in Zack Wilson.

However, the Jets have playmakers on defense who can force Prescott into mistakes.

Let’s look at each team’s defensive X-factor in this game.

Dallas Cowboys: Osa Odighizuwa vs Jets’ running backs

It’s hard to imagine Wilson will challenge the Cowboys cornerback duo of Trevon Diggs and Stephon Gilmore and with Micah Parsons coming off the edge, the Jets will try to get the ball out quickly and protect their quarterback by relying on the run game.

Coming off a 127-yard rushing performance against the Buffalo Bills, second year running back Breece Hall should see the rock a bit more in this game and look for Dalvin Cook to be featured on the ground and with quick passes out of the backfield.  As disruptive as Parsons can be, Cowboys defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa is the X-factor in this game.

The big DT had two sacks against Daniel Jones and the Cowboys in Week 2 and help limit a running game featuring Saquon Barkley.  The 2021third-found pick is morphing into a force in the middle of that Dallas defense and will need to come up big in limiting what the Jets will attempt to do on the ground behind Hall and Cook.  He’ll obviously get help from Johnathan Hankins and 2023 first-round pick Mazi Smith.

As far as Parsons, he’ll be a force for sure and will look for his team to make a further statement as the best defense in the NFL.

"“I believe [we played like one of those championship defenses,” Parsons said following the Sunday night destruction of the Giants.  “The turnovers, the relentlessness, the effort by all 11, even the guys that came in in the fourth quarter and helped finish the shutout.  All across the board, I think everyone is locked in and committed to this team.”"

The Jets’ defense will have something to say about Parsons’ proclamation of the Cowboys’ defense being the top defense in the league.

New York Jets: Jordan Whitehead vs Dak Prescott

The Sauce Garnder vs Ceedee Lamb matchup will be one of the highlights of the game.  With Brandin Cooks ruled out of this game, the Cowboys will lean on Tony Pollard on the ground and try to use the speed and shiftiness of Deuce Vaughn to create some plays in the run game.  However, the Jets defensive line led by Quinnen Williams will be physical and will be tough to run against.

That could lead to Prescott still taking some shots against Gardner and the Jets’ secondary.  Expect Michael Gallup to see a lot of targets as well as tight ends Jake Ferguson.  Neither of those players were factors in the Cowboys’ 40-0 win over the Giants, but Prescott will need secondary options to get the ball to with the Jets’ defensive line limiting the run game.

NFL Mocks
NFL Mocks /

Want your voice heard? Join the NFL Mocks team!

Write for us!

Gardner will be Gardner, but safety Jordan Whitehead need to have another big game.  The former Buccaneers safety shined in the Jets’ 22-16 win over the Bills with a PFF grade of 91.8 on 68 snaps.  With 3 interceptions in that game against Josh Allen, the reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week will be flying all over the field and may get another interception off Prescott in this game.

Next. Chiefs-Jaguars News & Predictions: Kelce returns; Ridley presents big problem. dark

Prediction: The Dallas Cowboys come close to a second consecutive shutout in this game as they make life miserable for Wilson and the Jets’ offense.  Tony Pollard will find a way to get it done on the ground, rushing for a touchdown.  In all, the Jets defense will go toe-to- with the Cowboys’ defense, but the veteran quarterback play of Prescott will lead the Cowboys’ offense on a couple of key drives in the first half that will turn this one into a defensive battle in the second half.

Cowboys 16, Jets 3.