The Jets are 10-5, Ryan Fitzpatrick has been named AFC offensive player of the week for the second time in three weeks and a win against Buffalo on Sunday will see the Jets make the playoffs for the first time in five years. It’s a good time to be a Jets fan. At least for now.
Following the loss to the Texans in week 11, which left the team staring at mid-level mediocrity with a 5-5 record, the Jets have rallied and won five in a row. Todd Bowles pointed this out this week that “the last couple of weeks have been playoff games” meaning that each game since has been a must win in order to keep playoff hopes alive: “We’ve been having to win the past four, five weeks, so it’s not different going into Sunday.”
With a high performing defense for the majority of the season, it has been the offense which struggled to click and be productive until recent weeks. The decisive five play victory drive after unexpectedly receiving the ball first in overtime against the Patriots was a clear indication of how far this group has come under Chan Gailey’s tutelage. Brandon Marshall is breaking league and franchise records both individually and through his partnership with Eric Decker, who is also closing in on his own seasons’ best performance. Revived veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is close to breaking the Jets’ all time season touchdown record and has shown poise to lead the team to victory in a number of late game situations. This is no longer a team relying on its defense to bail it out.
Despite an ironically poetic ‘win and in’ match up against ex head coach Rex Ryan in week 17, the Jets are now in a good position on both sides of the ball to seal a place in the playoffs. Thanks to the Steelers’ week 16 loss to the Ravens, the ball is now firmly in the Jets’ court, but the New Year party can still be spoiled at the final hour.
The win is not a done deal, despite recent impressive performances which have seen the Jets leap to fifth on the NFL’s power rankings. Apart from the Patriots, they have only beaten teams with losing records and were pushed close by the Giants and Cowboys despite coming out victorious. Mistakes have been costly, even in these winning games; missed catches and allowed fourth down conversions. Rex Ryan will be keen to spoil the party as the Bills have nothing but pride to play for and Rex certainly values that. The Jets, who have now shown themselves to be a complete team should beat the 7-8 Bills, but there is no room for complacency.
If the Jets do lose, they’ll need the Browns to defeat the Steelers, as Pittsburgh would land the last wildcard spot on a tiebreak if both finish 11-6. This is not completely out of the question considering the Steelers’ historically poor record against subpar teams but is a risk the Jets will want to avoid.
As we enter 2016, it’s looking positive for the Jets, who may face Houston or Cincinnati if they can hurdle the Bills. After years of the ‘same old Jets’, the postseason is finally there for the taking. So it’s just left to say Happy New Year and huge thanks to everyone who has read and shared my blog and hopefully it’ll be a Happy New Year for the Jets too.