Russell Wilson has been playing injured for almost the entire first month of the 2016 NFL season, and Week 4 should be no different. After suffering a sprained MCL in the Seattle Seahawks’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers, the quarterback is expected to start when the team visits the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon.
Wilson has been battling a high ankle sprain that he suffered in Week 1, though he hasn’t missed a start. He was sent to the bench when he injured his knee in Seattle’s Week 3 win, but he’s still not likely to miss any time, barring a setback.
“He is remarkably well off for having a play like that. He looks good,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Monday. “We feel like he’s gonna be fine.”
Wilson likely would have rested towards the end of Seattle’s last game, even if he hadn’t gotten injured. The team took a 30-3 lead into the fourth quarter, recording their biggest win of the season after a close victory in the season opener and a narrow defeat in Week 2. Wilson threw for 243 yards and posted a 114.9 passer rating, appearing to be mostly recovered from the injury he suffered in the season opener.
But after hurting himself against the 49ers, he could be in for another underwhelming performance. Determined to play through his ankle injury in Week 2, Wilson looked nothing like the quarterback that was projected to be an MVP candidate. He ran the ball five times for just 14 yards and threw for less than 200 yards before the game’s final drive. The end result was no touchdowns for Seattle and a 9-3 road loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Sunday’s game could play out in similar fashion against one of the league’s best defensive fronts. The Jets sacked Andy Dalton seven times in their only home game this season, and Wilson will likely find it hard to escape the pressure brought by the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson.
Even if Wilson isn’t at 100 percent, Seattle’s defense will keep them in the game. The unit ranks first in total defense, allowing just over 250 yards per game, and no team has scored more than 18 points against the Seahawks in 2016.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is coming off his worst game as a Jet. The quarterback was picked off six times in the team’s 24-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and he ended the game with interceptions on five consecutive drives. He’s due for a bounce-back performance on Sunday.
Because of Wilson’s injury and the potential for rookie quarterback Trevone Boykin to get the start, most Las Vegas and online sportsbooks had yet to set a betting line for the contest as of Wednesday morning. Seattle is a one-point favorite at the sportsbooks that do offer a point spread, and the over/under is down to 39.5.
When healthy, the Seahawks might be the best team in the NFC with an elite defense and a top quarterback. But Seattle has struggled against mediocre teams when Wilson was unable to make plays, and they might not have enough to beat the Jets on the road in what should be a low-scoring affair.
Prediction: New York over Seattle, 20-16