As the NFL has seen fewer and fewer elite teams over the years, the concept of the "good Bad Team" has grown in popularity. The concept is simple: this team plays sound enough football to beat the other bad teams and make the playoffs, even if it cannot truly contend against the league's best.
Early candidates for this year's title include the Miami Dolphins and the Cincinnati Bengals, with both teams representing an AFC that only features three teams with winning records. Yet the New York Jets have been the prototypical good Bad Team over the first half of the season.
A good Bad Team has clear strengths, usually in areas of the game which are solid but unspectacular, yet lacks the playmakers to be one of the league's best teams. The team will usually have a "game manager" style quarterback as well.
This description serves as a pretty decent representation of the 2012 Jets, who are at their best when they are controlling the ball and Mark Sanchez is not forced to determine the outcome of the game. The Jets have solid defensive and special teams units, but have struggled to sustain consistent offensive production due to a lack of high-end talent.
Good Bad Teams are usually well-coached and take advantage of their opponent's weakness, as the Jets have done the last few weeks against Indianapolis and New England. Gang Green approached each game with a radically different offensive game plan that targeted the opposition's inferior unit, and they were able to move the ball in both games as a result.
Despite their successful game plan, the Jets were unable to pull off a road victory against the Patriots, but beating superior teams is not the hallmark of a good Bad Team. In fact, the Jets' first-half results, which feature losses against three teams with winning records as well as a road defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is exactly what one would expect from a good Bad Team.
While the Jets have lost to elite competition, they have also taken care of business against the middle of the pack. Victories against Miami, Buffalo, and Indianapolis have put New York in decent playoff position despite the Jets' inability to land a signature win.
If the Jets can continue to beat the teams they are supposed to beat, Gang Green can ride its solid but unspectacular play to a second-half run and a possible playoff berth. The Jets still have games against the Bills, Titans, Jaguars, Cardinals, Rams and Chargers on their schedule.
These games are all clearly winnable, and the toughest game the Jets have remaining is a home tilt against the same New England team they just took to overtime. It will likely only take nine wins to make the playoffs in this year's AFC, and that number is well within reach.
First though, the Jets will probably have to survive their Week 8 good Bad Team showdown with the Dolphins. The Jets won in Miami in an ugly game that showed neither to be an elite team, but a win is a win and New York will take another one in any way possible.
Good Bad Teams rarely win pretty, but they win the games they need to win. Despite their record, this is exactly what the Jets have done this year, and if they keep it up they might be on their way to a surprisingly successful 2012 campaign.