Are the New York Jets for Real?

Dave StanleyCorrespondent IJanuary 19, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:  Rex Ryan, Head Coach of the New York Jets, has Gatorade dumped on him by players at the end of the fourth quarter in celebration of their 37-0 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at Giants Stadium on January 3, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

In the NFL, Cinderella teams are a delicate lot.  

More often than not, they're brutally shown the door after their improbable runs through the playoffs.

Just ask the 1985 New England Patriots, the 1994 San Diego Chargers or the 1998 Atlanta Falcons; "just happy to be here" doesn't cut it.

Lucky for the Jets, they feel that they're supposed to be here, and are playing like it.

Fueled by coach Rex Ryan's magpie nihilism—he's never been accused of giving modest, conventional or coy sound bites—these Jets are out to shock the world, just like their 1969 Super Bowl Champion counterparts.  

As everyone knows, that year Joe Namath brashly predicted (sound familiar?) that his Jets would beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts.

And by God, they did. 

Speaking of which, it is those same Colts that stand in the way of their making the Super Bowl again. Granted, they're in Indianapolis this time, but you get the drift.

So, will the Jets get shown their way back to the little kids' table this Sunday? Will Indianapolis end their thus far magical run?

Or will New York prove that they are the real deal? Will the Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers be warming up a seat on his couch for Peyton Manning for the Super Bowl?   

Oddly enough, the latter scenario just might happen. Remember, the Baltimore Ravens would have beaten those Colts a week ago if not for shooting themselves in the foot (I'm looking at you, Ed Reed).

But these New York Jets have a way of playing solid football, hanging around, then landing the deciding haymaker when their heavily-favored opponents least expect it (I'm looking at you, Shonn Greene).

Throw in the fact that the Colts don't have a running game at all, and things look even better for the Jets, considering that they'll know what the opposing offense is going to do most of the time.  

Then again, if anyone can master an opposing blitz, it's Peyton Manning. 

This game could very well come down to the less talked about match up: the Jets offense vs. the Colts defense. 

See, Indy's defense is small and fast, and could theoretically be easily worn down, which is perfect for the bruising New York rushing attack. So long as Mark Sanchez plays like he's capable and refrains from costly interceptions, and things could get ugly for the Colts.

One last factor is Indy's home field advantage, which is pretty much non-existent. Of all of the competitive teams' home fields—please refrain from emails citing Ford Field—the Colts' is the most complacent.

Perhaps they're used to seeing their team win so much, they don't care about petty first downs? Or maybe it's just an architectural issue in Indianapolis.  

At any rate, if Mark Sanchez can deal with the hostile confines of Qualcomm Stadium, he can handle almost anywhere, much less the lethargic Lucas Oil Stadium. 

In a sense, it's almost perfect. What better script to an NFL final four than to have three pass-happy juggernauts and one run-oriented, scrappy underdog crashing the party? 

Whether you're a Jets fan or not, this is certainly fun to watch.  

Just don't count on Rex Ryan and Co. to be turning in any glass slippers any time soon.