THE GAME: The Jets (3-9) at the San Francisco 49ers (1-11) at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 4:05 p.m. ET.
THE WEATHER: After a few days of rain in the bay area -- which should do wonders for the generally bad field there -- it looks like things will be dry on game day. But it'll be cloudy with temperatures in the upper 50s or maybe around 60 with light winds.
WHAT IT MEANS: Yawn. … Oh, sorry, what was the question? Right, the meaning of this game. Well, it's mostly about draft order, I guess. Currently, the 49ers are picking second and the Jets are picking fourth or fifth. A win and the Jets put themselves in danger of slipping closer to the bottom of the Top 10. A loss, though, and they've got some potential for a Top 3 pick if things break right. Or wrong. Whatever. Also, I suppose this game has meaning if you're on the Todd Bowles Watch. I'm not. I think he's coming back next year, and I think he should come back next year. But after the embarrassing, 41-10 loss to the Colts on Monday night, I suppose another humiliation could tip the scales against him. You'd think there's only so much humiliation Woody Johnson is willing to take.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Jets QB Bryce Petty. The Petty Era began a half early last week because Ryan Fitzpatrick was terrible again, but this is really the start of things for the kid. He has a short week to prepare, yes, but he'll get the majority of the snaps and he'll know going in that he's the starter, probably for the rest of the season. And judging by what happened late against the Colts, the Jets might actually let him throw this time, as opposed to his game-manager effort a few weeks back against the Rams. There's no question Petty has a strong arm, but it remains to be seen how accurate it is in the heat of the moment. The Jets will surely be watching because they need to know if Petty deserves even a chance to be their quarterback of the future. At the moment, it sure doesn't sound like they think he will be, but he's got a few games to change their minds.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: 49ers LB Ahmad Brooks against Jets right tackle Brent Qvale. Boy, it was a struggle to find a matchup that might matter in this game. The 49ers' roster is … well, it's pretty bad, which you probably guessed from their 1-11 record. But even at age 32, Brooks can still play a little. He's also the only player on the 49ers defense who seems to be able to rush the passer (five sacks). That's important because Petty, making only his second start and in his second NFL season, would seem to be the type of green quarterback that a team would want to try to pressure. Usually that's how young quarterbacks get rattled. But it's not clear the 49ers are capable of that. Maybe Brooks can be, against Qvale, who has been up and down this season and who will apparently be called upon to replace the injury-plagued Breno Giacomini (shoulder/back/calf) again.
THE PICK: Just as a matter of principle I wasn't going to pick the Jets to win on the road with a quarterback making his second start. That seemed a little much. Then I looked at the 49ers, losers of 11 straight, including a truly awful loss in Chicago last week and I completely changed my mind. They can run the ball, in large part because they have a quarterback who can run it (Colin Kaepernick), but there is almost nothing else that they are able to do at all. Honestly, if Fitzpatrick were starting this game I might pick the Jets to win in a blowout because he probably could carve up the 49ers' secondary. Petty did so much overthrowing on Monday night that I think he could tighten this game on his own by committing a couple of mind-boggling turnovers. But even that shouldn't be enough for the Jets to lose to this awful team -- not when the Jets' strength is running the football and the 49ers give up an NFL-worst 169.3 yards per game on the ground. That should help take some of the pressure off Petty. It won't be pretty, but it should be a win. And if it isn't? … Well, if it isn't then maybe Bowles should try to avoid Woody Johnson on the plane ride home. ... Jets 20, 49ers 13.
MY RECORD: 8-4
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO WIN: 2-3
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO LOSE: 6-1