First a few updates:
1. As you can tell from all the sweet white boxes with red x’s in the corner in my last few articles and the lack of pictures in today’s article, there are still technical problems with the site. I am trying to work them out ASAP.
Jets News and Notes
1. The Jets had an abbreviated practice today, which was closer to a walk through than anything else. However, Mark Sanchez didn’t take part. Rex Ryan said he has been going through intense rehab and that he still is optimistic about him suiting up this Sunday. I would expect him to be limited in Wednesday’s practice. If he is going to start, the Jets will want him out there for the installation of the game plan. Sanchez will be wearing a brace on both legs for the rest of the season. It will be interesting to see how he responds from his first somewhat serious injury as a pro and how the knee will affect his play.
2. Rex Ryan didn’t say if Eric Smith or Kerry Rhodes would start at safety. It would be hard to justify giving Rhodes his job back after his quiet performance against Buffalo. I don’t know who taught Rhodes how to tackle but whomever they are was incorrect in showing him that you tackle by throwing your shoulder into the ball carrier with your hands at your side.
3. The Jets caught some breaks yesterday in their bid for a playoff spot. It should be a wild final four weeks in the AFC. Everybody needs to put on their Aaron Rodgers jersey tonight and pull hard for the Packers to knock the Ravens down to 6-6. I will break down in more detail what the Jets need to happen this Sunday to help their playoff hopes in my Wednesday article, “Jets Playoff Pipe Dream: Week 14 Viewing Guide.” It is still a long shot but the Jets are very much alive, especially if the Packers take care of business tonight.
4. The Jets are currently ranked #1 in the NFL in both rushing and total defense…usually those type of rankings equal a division lead, not a 6-6 record.
AFC East Observations
New England Patriots – Maybe now everybody will stop saying the Patriots are an elite team in the NFL, since the only road game they have won this season was against Tampa Bay in London. The reality is that Bill Belichick has made some stupid decisions the past few weeks, including trying to convert a 4th down against Miami instead of taking a field goal that would have put New England up by two possessions. New England is an average team this season, which makes it more of a shame that the Jets couldn’t tackle Ted Ginn Jr…or stop Jacksonville in the 4th quarter…or avoid 6 INTs against Buffalo…or tackle Ronnie Brown on Monday night…and on and on. It is going to make me sick if the Patriots go 9-7 or 10-6 and win this division.
Miami Dolphins – I hate Miami and I hate giving them credit but that was a big time win for them and a big time performance by Chad Henne. How do you get blown out by Buffalo and throw three interceptions and then come back and beat New England and play like a franchise quarterback…that is the state of the NFL and the AFC East this year. They have a huge game in Jacksonville this weekend, which at first glance is a tough game to decide who to root for if you are a Jets fan. A closer look at both team’s schedule confirms that we should be pulling for the Jags because they are likely to lose their next two after Miami (against Indy and in New England). If Miami does win, we are going to need some AFC South help from the Titans and Texans against the Fins in the following two weeks. (I find it very hard not to discuss the 200000 playoff possibilities all the time, but I am trying to save it for Wednesday).
Buffalo Bills - We can only hope they can contribute to the Patriots meltdown by beating them up in Buffalo in a few weeks, which is something I wouldn’t be shocked to see happen. The Bills should have beat New England in week one and they are always tough in their building…not in Toronto in front of 80,000 uninterested Blue Jays and Maple Leafs fans.
Other NFL Observations
Has anything more improbable this season happened than Bruce Gradkowski driving Oakland down the field in Pittsburgh with under two minutes to play to steal a victory, bizarre stuff, this is the defending champs we are talking about…Yes, I giggled like a school girl watching Brett Favre play like crap last night and throw two interceptions, hopefully this a sign of things to come…I still can’t believe Washington found a way to blow that game against the Saints…Good win for the Giants, who continued to prove that Dallas will never win an important game with Wade Phillips and Tony Romo leading the way…Good weeks for my Super Bowl picks, as the Chargers and Eagles each racked up another win…How can we convince Jim Caldwell to rest Peyton Manning against the Jets in week 16?
TOJ NFL Power Rankings (Only teams with a playoff pulse are ranked, no matter how weak that pulse is)
- Indianapolis Peyton Mannings (12-0) - Business like victory over the previously red-hot Titans.
- New Orleans Saints (12-0) – Amazing victory over Washington, keeps undefeated hopes alive.
- Minnesota Vikings (10-2) – Wow, they looked bad last night…was it an aberration or a sign of things to come?
- San Diego Chargers (9-3) – Tough games approaching on the schedule.
- Cincinnati Bengals (9-3) – Running away with the AFC North.
- Arizona Cardinals (8-4) – Don’t sleep on the defending NFC Champs…they can play with anybody.
- Philadelphia Eagles (8-4) – Their offense is a big play machine…huge game in the Meadowlands this Sunday night.
- Denver Broncos (8-4) - Fought off their 4 game losing streak with two impressive wins.
- Green Bay Packers ( 7-4) – We are pulling for you tonight.
- New York Giants (7-5) – Big plays led to big win over Dallas, who they own.
- Dallas Cowboys (8-4) – With upcoming games against San Diego and New Orleans…here comes the meltdown.
- New England Patriots (7-5) – Battling Dallas for the league’s weakest division leader.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5) – Up by 4 with 5 minutes to go…thank you very much #1 ranked Jets defense.
- Baltimore Ravens (6-5) – Do us all a favor, and come out flat tonight and don’t give the ball to Ray Rice too often.
- Miami Dolphins (6-6) – Thanks for beating New England, but it is time to start losing again.
- New York Jets (6-6) – Have to take care of business this week and hope to continue to receive help.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6) – You lose to Oakland…at home? Let’s go Mangini and the Browns on Thursday.
- Tennessee Titans (5-7) – Take care of Miami in week 15 for us.
- Atlanta Falcons (6-6) – Things have gone south quickly for the dirty birds.
- Houston Texans (5-7) – Speaking of going south quickly.
- San Francisco 49ers (5-7) – I said even teams with a weak playoff pulse would be ranked…case and point.
- Seattle Seahawks (5-7) – See 49ers.
Pats Lose to the Fins
Raiders Shock Steelers