Thursday night, don’t let the tryptophan send you to an early slumber. Not with this primetime matchup on deck.
The New York Jets and New England Patriots meet Thanksgiving night in a game that will have a playoff atmosphere at MetLife Stadium, with the 4-6 Jets trying to keep their season alive against their biggest rival.
The Patriots are sitting pretty atop the AFC East at 7-3, thanks to their high-powered offense which is tops in the NFL in both points and yards per game. Nobody else in the division is within striking distance entering Week 12.
Even after a 3-6 start to their season, the Jets are still on the periphery of contention after a win last week, two games out of a playoff spot with six to play, with five very winnable games to end the season in Weeks 13-17.
However, there’s no time to look ahead right now for New York. They’ll be focused at the task at hand: trying to beat the Patriots for the first time since January 16, 2011; their big postseason victory at Gillette Stadium.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots have won their last three meetings with the Jets, including an overtime win in Foxboro earlier this season. A loss would send the Jets to 4-7, giving Rex Ryan and company little room for error.
Even if the Jets lose on Thursday and run the table the rest of the way, which is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination, a 9-7 record might not be enough to clinch a playoff berth, thanks to tiebreakers in a crowded AFC.
That’s why the Jets find themselves at a crossroads. A win this week would give some legitimacy to the Jets’ playoff chances. With five winnable games on the horizon, the Jets would gladly take a 5-6 record with five to play.
For as bad as the Jets have looked at times this season, they’ve shown that they won’t be pushovers when Tom Brady and company come to town. They have a fighting chance, even if nobody outside the organization thinks so.
Any given Sunday, (or Monday, and in this case, Thursday) anybody can beat anybody in this league. It’s time for the Jets to show their true colors. Are they a thoroughbred, or an also-ran? 11 weeks in, it’s still hard to tell.
Even without Darrelle Revis, the Jets still have a defense that nobody wants to see in January. The offense and special teams will have to do their part and step up. It will take all three phases to beat the Patriots.
However, it’s far from impossible. The Jets have beaten the Pats before and they can do it again. Why not now?
Bottom line, football fans will be treated to a high-stakes rivalry game Thursday night that shouldn’t disappoint.
So maybe you should hold off on the second (or third) helping of turkey this year. You’ll want to to stay up for this.