The New York Jets have a lot to feel happy about following the decisive week 14 victory over the Titans. Not just snatching another vital ‘W’ but also the poised way the team performed. With an 8-5 record, the Jets are still alive and kicking in the AFC wildcard race – even Todd ‘we’re just focusing on the next game’ Bowles, acknowledged the playoffs are on the horizon this week. It’s all come down to the last three games, however whether we make it to the post season is not entirely in our own hands.
What we can control – the last three games
With three games left, it isn’t rocket science to say we need to win as many as we can, all three if possible. This may be easier said than done, especially as two divisional match ups are left on the card. However, considering recent excellent performances, especially from the offense, winning out seems more likely that it might have been.
The previously much maligned offense has clicked over the last three games; the first three game winning streak since 2011. Fitzpatrick, who critics assumed would bomb in December seems to have found his rhythm, racking up consecutive 100+ passer ratings and 9 touchdowns in three games. Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall are now being touted as one of the most powerful WR combos in the league. As if to prove how well the offense are playing in comparison to previously, Marshall and Fitzpatrick have won AFC offensive player of the week in two consecutive weeks. No Jet has won this accolade since quarterback Geno Smith as a rookie two years ago and the last time a WR did it in the regular season was 1990. With an offense which was previously seen as the weak point, firing on all cylinders, we are in a strong position moving forward.
Preseason, a match up against the Romo led Cowboys in Dallas was classed as a difficult game. Heading into AT&T is never easy but the state of the 4- 9 Cowboys is not close to what might have been expected. The Cowboys rank 30th in points scored and should struggle against a Jets defense playing well. The Dallas defense, who rank 4th against the pass, will be a greater challenge than the offense faced against Tennessee and Miami. Getting the run going will be key.
The bottom line is the Jets have to win to keep the dream alive. Going forward, the Bills and Patriots (even with their raft of injuries) are always potentially difficult games but recent performances show we are in the best position possible to decide our own fate, as far as we can.
What we can’t control – everyone else
Sadly, even if they do win out, the Jets’ chances still rely on the performances of other contenders in the wildcard race. The Chiefs and Steelers also share an 8-5 record and are too looking to win out the year. Unfortunately both have reasonable schedules for the remainder of the season and are playing well:
Facing the Browns (3-10) and the Ravens (4-9) should be straightforward for both although the Broncos could be a possible tripping point for the Steelers. Jets fans will be hoping for some late season upsets to ease our journey to January.
If all three teams do win out, the Jets will be looking in on the playoffs from the outside due to complex tiebreak rules. If that happens, the team will rue the fact that they did the best they could at the end but wistfully reflect on ‘should’ve won’ games such as the Eagles and Raiders early on. However, this is now beyond our control and as has been said before, a winning record was more than some hoped for pre-season. But the playoffs are there in our sights and in our grasp; it’s going to be nailbiting from here on in.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com