In the NFL it is often a foolhardy task to look down the schedule, even in-season and try to predict wins and losses. This is a week to week league and so many things can change in the course of seven days. It was less than a month ago you were probably ready to purchase your Super Bowl tickets after the Jets 48-28 trouncing of the Buffalo Bills, right? Regardless, with the Jets sitting at 2-3 and teetering on the brink of a lost season and a quarterback change, let’s take a quick look down the road.
As of today, the only teams left on the Jets schedule that they have definitively looked better than are the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills. They should be solid favorites as of now in all those games. The Jets have looked on a comparable level to three other teams left on their schedule, the Miami Dolphins, St. Louis Rams and this week’s opponent, the Indianapolis Colts.
If the Jets want to stay around .500 and keep themselves relevant in the playoff race into December, they need to win games like this week against the Colts. Yes, Indianapolis is better than expected and yes they had an emotional win over Green Bay last week. However, it is logical to assume a letdown after such an emotional win for a young team. The Colts are also much tougher in their dome than on the road. They are also dealing with their own injuries. Starting running back Donald Brown won’t play this week and either will Pro Bowl pass rusher Robert Mathis who is out with a knee injury.
The Colts are feisty because of how talented Andrew Luck is at quarterback and how Reggie Wayne is having a career year as his number one target. Similar to the Jets, they struggle running the ball and now will be starting a rookie fifth rounder at running back (although he very well may be better than Shonn Greene, because who isn’t these days?). The Colts have an inexperienced offensive line and a defense with a suspect secondary. Indy is averaging allowing 27.5 points per game and opposing quarterbacks to throw for 242 yards per game.
Nobody is saying this is a “gimme” game because it certainly isn’t. The Jets don’t have those anymore with their talent level. Regardless this a sharp decline from San Francisco and Houston and will be the worst defense they faced since week 1 by a wide margin. If Mark Sanchez cannot put together a statistically respectable performance and lead the Jets to a win here, he deserves to lose his job and that is coming from somebody who is an unabashed Sanchez apologist. At 2-4 and heading into New England it would be officially be panic time and it would shock nobody if Tim Tebow was inserted as the starter even if it defies logic, considering Tebow was killed in both meetings against them and Sanchez has beat Belichick and company three times.
Regardless, the Jets must stay on track to get into their bye week at 4-4 and set themselves up for relevance heading into November and December. The offense will only get better. There were positive signs this past Monday night and with Dustin Keller and Stephen Hill both back in the line-up this week, the improvement should continue. On defense, Rex Ryan must build on the second half against Houston, where we finally saw signs of a good defense as they contained the Texans to 6 points, despite playing on a short field after an onside kick.
You hate saying games are must-wins because which ones aren’t? It is cliche. It is probably over-exaggerated but Sunday is a must win for the Jets and a must strong performance from Mark Sanchez if he has any of hope of remaining the starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.