The dust has fully settled on the Jets oh so sweet victory over the New England Patriots, the long weekend is over and it is time for a few key realizations —
Yes, it was a very, very important win in Jets franchise history to end New England’s season in their building as heavy underdogs. Honestly, outside of Super Bowl III, it is probably the greatest win in franchise history. Maybe I am too young and I’m not placing enough importance on another game in their past but to my knowledge and understanding, this should rank as #2.
However, there is no awards or trophies for beating your arch-rival in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Before the season started, Rex Ryan talked Super Bowl, the players talked Super Bowl, and most of us felt this team was good enough to win a Super Bowl, now is the time to seize the opportunity.
The Jets are exercising demons on a weekly basis. Rex Ryan can’t beat Peyton Manning? Those days are over. The Jets can’t beat the Patriots when it counts, Tom Brady is an infallible quarterback who never mistakes? Sorry, Phil Simms, Jim Nantz and every other mainstream media member, those are days are also over. Yet, the biggest demon still needs to be exercised. The demon of the Jets not winning a Super Bowl since 1969.
The novelty of getting to the AFC Championship Game has worn off. We did that last year. It was a pleasant surprise as a 9-7 team with a first year head coach and rookie quarterback and the Jets were rightly heavy underdogs to a team that was capable of going 16-0. This time around is different. The Jets expected to be here. They already beat Pittsburgh, in Pittsburgh, this year and honestly they should be expected to win this game.
There are no excuses. I don’t want to hear about a hangover from the New England win when a Super Bowl birth is on the line. This team has Super Bowl talent throughout the entire organization, from the owner, to the GM, to the coaching staff, to every player on this roster.
The Jets have already taken over this town. There hasn’t been a bigger, more consistent story since the day Rex Ryan took over. However, the only way for this organization to truly become a part of history and permanently shed their labels as little brothers in this sports town is to win a championship.
Rex Ryan said it in all those Hard Knocks promos we loved so much, “it is time to win a Super Bowl”…nothing else is acceptable.
– Here’s a toast to Shaun Ellis and Jerricho Cotchery, a couple of Jets veterans who have been beaten by the Patriots for too long and stepped up with monster games.
– Santonio Holmes, how did you get those feet down?
– I can’t watch the replay of Shonn Greene’s game winning touchdown enough.
– Drew Coleman and Eric Smith picked the right time to have big time games.
– The Patriots went to Danny Woodhead way too much. It is almost like they built their game plan around him as an attempt to rub the Jets nose in the acquisition.
– How reliable and clutch has Braylon Edwards been this year?
– Wayne Hunter and Matt Slauson were quietly terrific, despite being the most unheralded players on the offensive line.
First thoughts on Jets/Steelers
– Pittsburgh is a very different team than the Colts and Patriots. The Jets played an inspired game against them earlier in the year but didn’t have to deal with Troy Polamalu, who obviously brings an entirely different dimension to their defense.
– Mark Sanchez needs to play with the same confidence he did against New England and that he did earlier in year against the Steelers. Pittsburgh, like most teams, will have a tough time covering both Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes, never mind Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller.
– The Jets should have the same division of carries between LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene. They shouldn’t be afraid to run the ball against Pittsburgh’s front seven.
– Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders will be tough match-ups in the slot. I expect another defensive game plan that will be defensive back heavy. The Jets need the same effort from all the backs who are active once again.
It doesn’t get any better than this.
Bill Belichick completely out-coached in his own building by Rex Ryan. “The genius’ making idiotic challenges and fake punt calls.
Tom Brady completely confused by the Jets defense and cursing out himself and teammates on the sideline. Mark Sanchez outplaying him in his own building. Please, continue to say Sanchez is the reason the Jets can’t win a Super Bowl and isn’t a good NFL quarterback…he just beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the playoffs, back to back…in his second year.
Braylon Edwards dragging “Pro-Bowlers” Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty into the end-zone.
Santonio Holmes making a ridiculous catch in the corner of the end-zone for a touchdown.
Jerricho Cotchery coming up tremendously clutch as always with nearly 100 yards receiving and a momentum swinging 58 yard reception in the fourth quarter.
Shonn Greene putting the game on ice and the entire Jets team, including Rex Ryan, celebrating in the end-zone.
Wes Welker nearly getting his head taken off by Eric Smith a couple of times. I don’t think we’ll hear him running his mouth anytime soon…because his season is over, which is just a beautiful thing. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the rest of the overrated New England Patriots who the mainstream media had a love affair with are done…they are done because the team you love to hate, beat them up in their own building and backed up their big talk.
Bring on the Steelers…
In no particular order…
1. A special teams or defensive play that either directly results in points or sets up easy points. I am looking at you Antonio Cromartie.
2. A big play on offense that directly results in points or sets up easy points. I am looking at you Shonn Greene, Braylon Edwards, and Santonio Holmes.
3. Mark Sanchez needs to play one of the best, if not, the best game of his young NFL career. Yes, obviously looking at you Mark Sanchez.
4. The Jets need to force a turnover on defense. I am looking at you Jason Taylor, Calvin Pace, and David Harris.
5. The backup Jets defensive backs, James Ihedigbo, Kyle Wilson, Marquice Cole, Dwight Lowery, and starting safeties Eric Smith and Brodney Pool all need strong games. Secondary, you are supposed to be the strength of this team, stand up.
6. Nick Folk can’t miss any kicks under 45 yards. Shayne Graham needs to shank one. Yes, looking at you at #2…and expecting that choke from you Graham.
7. They can’t fall behind by more than one-possession at any point in the game. Everybody.
8. The running game must lead the way and allow the Jets to control the time of possession. Offensive Line, Backup tight ends, LaDainian Tomlinson, Shonn Green, Tony Richardson…ground and pound.
9. Danny Woodhead can’t be covered by Bart Scott, David Harris or any linebacker for that matter and certainly not Mike DeVito. Mike Pettine and Rex Ryan, common sense here.
10. Zero turnovers. Offense but mostly Mark Sanchez.
Let’s Get That Upset
Another week of Jets football means another 12 pack of predictions. TOJ actually fared well with his wild-card picks, going 3-1 on the games against the spread. In terms of my specific picks for Jets/Colts…eh, it was very hit or miss. Let’s see how we fare this week –
1. Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson will combine for 40 carries as the Jets attempt to control the clock and shorten the game. They will the run ball with some success but neither will crack the 100 yard mark individually.
2. Mark Sanchez will manage the game effectively. The Jets will be conservative with their playcalling, especially in the passing game. Sanchez will have at least one turnover but will also hit one big play down the field off play action when given the chance to go deep.
3. Tom Brady isn’t going to turn the football over.
4. The Jets will get one big play from their special teams, whether it is a return from Antonio Cromartie (who will be deep on kicks), a fake punt, or a surprise onsides kick. This play will help keep the game close into the fourth quarter.
5. The Jets defense will dare New England to run the ball to beat them and won’t stack the box. You will see plenty of Marquice Cole, Kyle Wilson, James Ihedigbo, and Dwight Lowery on the field and less of Bart Scott and Bryan Thomas. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will run for at least 65 yards and Danny Woodhead will add 65 total yards of offense.
6. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez will both have big games working against the Jets safeties. One of them will score a touchdown and they will combine for at least 90 yards receiving.
7. Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards are going to beat Kyle Arrington for a touchdown on a long pass off play action.
8. Dustin Keller is going to have at least 6 receptions and be Mark Sanchez’s favorite target on third downs.
9. The Jets won’t attempt a field goal over 45 yards with Nick Folk, instead opting to go for it or punt on fourth down. Shayne Graham is going to miss at least one field goal attempt.
10. Brad Smith or LaDainian Tomlinson is going to throw a pass for the Jets.
11. There is going to be at least 3 or 4 scrums after the whistle and a personal foul or two in the first half alone.
12. My heart wants to pick the Jets, but in a lame attempt to be somewhat objective I have to admit the logical pick is New England. I do think the Jets will play them tight into the fourth quarter and ultimately lose something like 27-20. However, if the Jets can get the big special teams play I mentioned, and a signature performance from Mark Sanchez, and catch a break on defense with a tipped pass turned into an interception or a timely forced fumble, I wouldn’t be stunned if they stole the game late…I know those are a ton of ifs but this is the NFL and on any given Sunday…anything can happen.
Divisional Round Picks
Jets (+8.5) at New England
Baltimore (+3) at Pittsburgh – Wow, am I excited for this game. You know you could almost take a low-scoring game decided by 3 points or less to the bank. Baltimore is due to knock Pittsburgh out and I think this is the year for them to do it. The Steelers have problems on the offensive line and will miss Aaron Smith on defense. I expect the Ravens to steal a close one in the final seconds of what should be a great game.
Green Bay (+2.5) at Atlanta – I know everybody is on the Green Bay bandwagon, but guess what? So am I. Aaron Rodgers is going to be the best player on the field Saturday night and now that it looks like Green Bay found a running game, they will be balanced enough on offense to steal a tight, high-scoring game.
Seattle (+10) at Chicago – This line just feels too high after watching Seattle last week and knowing Jay Cutler is under center. This is going to be a close one and I wouldn’t be shocked if Seattle won the game, however in the end I do think Chicago will do enough to escape with a victory.