Whether people think that head coach Rex Ryan is overrated or quarterback Mark Sanchez should be benched the one thing we know is the New York Jets are one game out of the race for the last playoff spot in the AFC.
New York defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 17-10 Sunday to raise their record to 6-7. The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers both lost and dropped to 7-6. With three games left in the regular season, the Jets can still win out and, with some help, beat Cincinnati and Pittsburgh for the final wildcard spot. New York has an outside chance of catching the fifth place Indianapolis Colts who are 9-4, but it is unlikely that they will.
Of course, the Jets still being in playoff contention may speak more about the state of today’s NFL than anything New York has done. The league believes in doing whatever it takes to keep as many teams in championship contention as possible. With six playoff spots in each conference, it is not uncommon to have eight to 10 teams in each playing meaningful games in December. The New York Giants won a Super Bowl last season after finishing 9-7.
Having said this, the Jets have been left for dead many times this season. Sanchez and the offense has been all but non existent at times. There have been games like the Thanksgiving Day loss to the New England Patriots when New York was beaten in every phase. The Jets have never figured out how to get production out of Sanchez’ backup Tim Tebow who came to New York among much fanfare. The Jets season has basically been one of disappointment and back page fodder for the local press.
If there is one thing that every NFL fan should know by now, it is to never count out any team that is around .500 in December. The Jets have been in this situation before. In 2009, they had to win their last two games to make the playoffs and did just that. Once they were in, New York advanced all of the way to the AFC championship game where they lost to Indianapolis.
The Jets will need some help to get in. Pittsburgh will have to lose two of their remaining three games. The Steelers hold the tie breaker between the two teams as they beat New York in September. Cincinnati will also have to lose a couple to insure a playoff spot for the Jets. However, the fact that playoff scenarios would even be discussed in December seemed far fetched as long ago as Sunday.
As is often the case, with all of the gloom and doom coming out of the Big Apple, the Jets can change everyone’s view of them in a New York minute by running the table and getting a little help from some friends.