First a few updates:
1. Like the the rest of the Jets, I took yesterday off as a “victory Monday.” Actually, I have been suffering from a lovely combination of strep throat and a fever so I tried to sleep it off to be as healthy as possible for the final three weeks of the regular season. Yes, I consider my health of crucial importance to the Jets hopes for a miraculous playoff run.2. According to Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens are going to split reps at practice on Wednesday and then he will decide on a starter. I would be shocked if Sanchez isn’t under center this weekend but maybe that is just wishful thinking to avoid watching another Kellen Clemens performance. The Jets could get away with playing Clemens against the Bucs, but starting him against Atlanta could be pushing it.
3. Rich Cimini is reporting there is a strong chance the Jets/Bengals regular season finale could be moved to Sunday night since it is the final game in Giants Stadium. If somehow, someway the Jets are playing for a playoff spot…that place is going to be rocking…and yes I will be finding a way to bring myself to that game.
4. Some impressive Jets defense stats compiled by the Star-Ledger: They are ranked first in the NFL in total defense, first in pass defense, first in points allowed, first in three and outs, first in yards per play, first in fewest first downs allowed…along with of course having the NFL’s #1 ranked rushing offense…and yet we are still barely hanging in playoff contention.
5. The Jets have signed running back Chauncey Washington to their active roster off the Dallas Cowboys practice squad and released tackle Ryan McKee. This could be a reminder to Shonn Greene to tuck the football away.6. Rex Ryan was very complimentary about Kerry Rhodes all-around performance against Tampa, saying he was strong in run support and was key in shutting down Kellen Winslow Jr. Let’s see how Rhodes finishes the final three games, which will go a long way to determining his future with the team.
7. The Jets are currently ranked #16 in ESPN’s Power Rankings…slowly climbing back up into the top half of the league.
8. The stats, depth chart, and game highlights section have been updated.
AFC East ObservationsNew England Patriots – An unimpressive win over a bad Panthers team has left me a little hope that the Patriots could struggle in Buffalo next week and in Houston the final week of the season. Randy Moss is starting to melt down. Their defense is extremely vulnerable, especially to the pass. Tom Brady isn’t playing like a pro-bowl quarterback. Bill Belichick is coaching like a guy who has won 3 Super Bowls and can do whatever he wants…could New England lose two of their final three? Absolutely. Will they? Probably not, they are most likely looking at a first round loss.
Miami Dolphins – We are moving closer and closer to my nightmare of a Miami/New England first round game. Vince Young you need to get healthy this week, Chris Johnson you need to stay motivated to break the single season rushing record, and Tennessee you need to focus on getting back to .500 in your building. I predicted Miami to be a 6-10 team this year and they have now shut me up on that prediction but I’d settle for 8-8 and missing the playoffs. The Dolphins could just as easily win their last three games, as they could lose them.
Buffalo Bills – Congratulations on winning arguably the most boring game of the season…now let’s focus on upsetting the Patriots in your building. Just remember to play physical with Randy Moss so he quits early.
Other NFL Observations
DeSean Jackson is still running wide open through the Giants secondary…Fortunately for the Giants, the Cowboys annual meltdown will allow them to make the playoffs even if they lose another game this season…My Super Bowl picks, the Eagles and Chargers are rolling right now…Is it just me or does anybody think the Bengals just aren’t that good?…I was glad to see Detroit put up such a strong effort against Baltimore last week…Any hopes I had of Oakland upsetting Denver this week ended when Bruce Gradkowski left with an injury…I vote the Colts play their starters this week against Jacksonville and then rest them the following week against the Jets…Some of the more unconventional hopes I have for the Jets making the playoffs involve either the Broncos or Bengals suffering an epic meltdown and losing out.
TOJ NFL Power Rankings (Only teams with a playoff pulse are ranked, no matter how weak that pulse is)
- Indianapolis Peyton Mannings (13-0) – You don’t want to put Peyton Manning in front of the Jets defense in week 16…much too risky, right? However, feel free to beat Jacksonville on Thursday since their city doesn’t deserve a football team.
- New Orleans Saints (13-0) – I am happy for Jonathan Vilma…great guy and great former Jet enjoying tons of success with a great team.
- San Diego Chargers (10-3) – They are going to roll over the Bengals this weekend…would love to see them against the Colts in the playoffs.
- Minnesota Vikings (11-2) – They are going to get a much needed bye…I hope Green Bay gets a shot at them in the second round.
- Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) – Their offense is explosive and their defense makes big plays…a very dangerous team.
- Green Bay Packers (9-4) – A great defense, a strong running game, and a big play passing game could equal a dangerous playoff team.
- Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) – About to catch a beating in San Diego.
- Arizona Cardinals (8-5) – Why can’t they beat the 49ers?
- Denver Broncos (8-5) – I’m not sold on them as a very good team, but who else I am going to put here? They are likely going 10-6 because of remaining home games against Kansas City and Oakland.
- New England Patriots (8-5) – They have a relatively easy remaining schedule so they should roll into the playoffs, where they will be knocked out in the first round.
- Baltimore Ravens (7-6) – As of right now, they have the best shot for the final wild card spot in the AFC.
- Miami Dolphins (7-6) – Let’s go Titans.
- Dallas Cowboys (8-5) – 8-8…here we come.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (7-6) – Overachieving team that will likely fall short of the playoffs.
- New York Giants (7-6) – Their defense is putrid but they can go 8-8 and still likely make the playoffs.
- New York Jets (7-6) – Mission improbable to make the playoffs.
- Tennessee Titans (6-7) – Big Titans fan this week.
- Houston Texans (6-7) – Big Houston fan for the rest of the season with games left against Miami and New England.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (6-7) – Big Steelers fan for the rest of the season with games left against Baltimore and Miami.
- San Francisco 49ers (6-7) – Hoping for a Cardinals or Giants meltdown.
- Atlanta Falcons (6-7) – Hopefully the Jets can bury them this weekend.
Jets/Falcons First Look
The Falcons are in the middle of a free fall and have endured tons of injuries, especially to key players. I wouldn’t expect to see starting quarterback Matt Ryan or starting running back Michael Turner this Sunday, which is obviously a big help for the Jets. The Jets are also benefited by getting a dome team in their building in the middle of December. Atlanta’s biggest weapons on offense are Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. White might as well not even bother suiting up because Darrelle Revis is going to take him out of the game. Kerry Rhodes will have a hell of a challenge against Gonzalez and a chance to show his value to the Jets defense. Atalnta’s defense has struggled all season, especially against the pass. However, if the Jets are smart they will stick to their ball control, run-dominated offense. Most people seem to be thinking the Jets are going to roll in this game, however I think this will be a close one. I like the Jets to get a home victory but it won’t be easy.