(Photo credit: Danielle Parhizkaran / USA TODAY NETWORK)
The much-hyped Sunday night matchup leading up to the season has officially arrived, but the only MVP quarterback on the field will be Patrick Mahomes.
Instead of the Mahomes versus Aaron Rodgers showdown on the national stage, Zach Wilson will lead the New York Jets into the contest against thedefending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs at East Rutherford, N.J.
Hard to find a bigger quarterback mismatch than two-time league MVP Mahomes against Wilson, the 2021 No. 2 overall pick who is back in a starting role only because of Rodgers' season-ending Achilles tendon injury just four snaps into his Jets' debut.
Mahomes has thrown 85 touchdown passes -- including seven this season -- since Wilson entered the league. Wilson has tossed just 17 and has an 8-16 record as a starter.
Mahomes was in stellar form last weekend when the Chiefs (2-1) rolled to a 41-10 rout of the visiting Chicago Bears. He completed 24 of 33 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns.
In the eyes of Mahomes, the Kansas City offense is back after scoring just 37 total points over its first two games.
"It always feels good to get the whole offense going," Mahomes said. "I mean, obviously, the first two weeks, we were kind of out of rhythm. We haven't had sustained drives going, so just to not have those killer penalties and to kind of get the offense moving in the right direction (was good)."
Of course, the Jets have a solid defense that ranks 12th in scoring (20.3 points allowed per game) and features top-flight players such as defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, linebacker C.J. Mosley and cornerback Sauce Gardner.
"They're really good," Mahomes said. "They are deep everywhere. We have a lot of respect for them. I have to prevent myself from negative plays, just take those easy positive plays. If you get a chance to take a shot, take it. But if it's not there you have to continue to drive and grind out points in this game."
New York safety Jordan Whitehead is tied for the NFL lead with three interceptions, but Mahomes acknowledged that he can never forget cornerback D.J. Reed. You see, Reed returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown in 2016 for Kansas State when Mahomes was the quarterback for Texas Tech.
"Just from watching the tape back then I knew he was going to be special," Reed said of Mahomes on Wednesday. "He is a generational quarterback with his off-rhythm throws. He could throw the ball anywhere and he's very accurate. His deep ball is very accurate and he's just a gamer."
New York would like to see Wilson transform into a gamer.
Wilson has completed 52.4 percent of his passes for 467 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions this season. He passed for 157 yards in last Sunday's 15-10 loss to the visiting New England Patriots.
Still, Jets coach Robert Saleh insists that Wilson will remain in a starting role.
"He's our unquestioned quarterback," Saleh said. "As long as he continues to show the way his preparation, the way he's been practicing ... and even in these games -- he's not the reason why we lost (Sunday). It's always a team effort. As long as he continues to show improvement -- and I know it's not, from a box-score standpoint, showing -- he's going to be our quarterback."
Jets guard Wes Schweitzer (concussion) and safety Tony Adams (hamstring) missed practice on Wednesday. Running back Breece Hall (knee) and left tackle Mekhi Becton (knee) were limited.
For Kansas City, linebacker Nick Bolton (ankle) and tight end Noah Gray (illness) missed Wednesday's practice. Defensive end Chris Jones (groin) and wideout Kadarius Toney (toe) were limited. Mahomes (ankle) practiced in full.
In the most recent meeting between the teams in 2020, Mahomes passed for 416 yards and five touchdowns as Kansas City trounced the visiting Jets 35-9.
--Field Level Media