09 November 2011
As drab as it is, this is the Jets best chance to reach Super Bowl XLVI.
The Jets have been one win away from playing in the Super Bowl the past two seasons. In 2009, they held an 11-point first half lead, and in 2010 they were one defensive stop away from having a chance to score and win the game. Both years they lost. Both years they came up short.
Now, in 2011, the Jets boast a modest 5-3 record and are tangled in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC East. Yet despite their modest standing, the Jets are as close to reaching the Super Bowl as ever. They play the Patriots at home on Sunday night, with an opportunity to take an outright lead in the division they have not won since 2002. While a victory would not clinch the AFC East, it would put the Jets in prime position to win it, with games against the Broncos, Bills, Redskins, Chiefs, (Eagles?), and Dolphins remaining---all very winnable games. A home date versus the Giants may be their toughest match following this Sunday. A division title would not ensure a Super Bowl berth, but it would guarantee at least one home playoff game. And that's what the Jets need to win the Super Bowl.
Although it has been done in recent years, including the Packers last season, winning three straight road playoff games is a TALL order, especially in the AFC. Pittsburgh, Baltimore and New England are damn hard places to win, and if the Jets don't win the division, they'll likely have to win games in all three venues (assuming they're a 6-seed). The Jets did Yeoman's work for the rest of the NFL last season, slaying the Manning-Brady monster in consecutive weeks. Unfortunately for them, it physically and emotionally drained them. Their tank was damn near empty by the time they reached Heinz Field. They never had a chance.
But this year, despite a rough, ROUGH three weeks following a 2-0 start, the Jets have set themselves up nicely for a huge second-half run that will hopefully carry them into early February. But there is still one more hill to climb , and that's Mount New England (Goldmember reference voice: Howie Rose). It's fitting, really. If the Jets are going to win the Super Bowl they've talked about for almost three years now, they are going to have to go through their biggest rival, the team that has prevented them from a hosting a playoff game since Richie Anderson ran roughshod down the Colts sideline in January 2003. And in this "division title game," if you will, they will get to play at home. It should be absolutely insane at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night. Between the magnitude of the game and, well, the amount of alcohol that will be consumed before kickoff, Jets faithful will be at their loudest and rowdiest. If I was a Patriots fan I'd either stay home, or at least not bring my children. That's not a threat, it's just sage advice. Neither The Likely Lad nor I will be there Sunday night, with the former in the Bayou and me in Bumblefuck, USA. Our poor mother is going to have to take one for the team. She must really love our dad.
To say a win Sunday night would put the Patriots AFC East dynasty to bed would be naive, as Tom Brady will probably play until the day we all die, just how I'm convinced Mariano Rivera and Martin Brodeur will outplay and outlive us all. Still, he is getting older and their defense seems to get worse every season. This is the Jets' time. They've had three years to earn that elusive home playoff game. In '09 they were a Cinderella story, in '10 they had a historically great team in their division (whom they beat twice, mind you), but this year they are the class of the division.
They'll have a chance to prove it Sunday night.
RS QUICK HITCHES
-Lost in Sunday's victory was how Stevie Johnson owned Darrelle Revis, at least by 24's standards. Maybe the Bills should have paid him, not their bearded journeyman quarterback.
-Joe McKnight and Nick Folk remain the Jets most consistent offensive weapons. How the hell did we get here?
-Maybe Dustin Keller's disappearance has to do with his lack of intelligence, not TBM's poor playcalling. Watching his mindless sideline leap brought back memories of Wayne Chrebet's "I was just trying to make a play" leap and fumble in Champagne, Ill. in 2002. The Jets did win the division that year, though.
-Speaking of The Beautiful Mind, he's doing his best to eradicate the sarcasm behind our wonderful nickname for him. He's due for a triple reverse with Slauson throwing a 50-yard bomb to LT this Sunday. I'll be disappointed if he doesn't.
-It's good to have Shonn Greene back. Now run him into the ground! He has more tread on his tires than any running back in the NFL. RUN!!!
-I still have no idea what to make of our quarterback's celing for this season. He'll make mistakes like that first quarter interception in the end zone, and then he'll play lights out like he did in the second half. You can't say he's predictable!
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