The New York Jets have had a long and bumpy road to the playoffs.
They started out their season 3-0. Among those three wins was a huge upset against division rival New England, which was about the point that people started thinking, "Wow, these guys could be for real."
Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez wasn't racking up the best stats, but nevertheless, his team was winning. Hype started about Sanchez being the sure-fire rookie of the year.
Well, the Saints owned the Jets through the whole game practically, and Sanchez let the pressure and the Saints' defense get to him. He threw three interceptions and no touchdowns and finished the game with a quarterback rating of 27.0.
Now all the Jets could do was put the game behind them and look forward to next week, where they would travel to Miami to face the struggling Dolphins. However, this game, as with the next against Buffalo, resulted in losses.
New York now headed to Oakland. Playing a very bad squad, the Jets were easily favored. This time, finally, they took care of business. How does 38-0 sound? Yeah, damn right, it sounds good.
Yet even with this incredible blowout, the inconsistent Jets went on to lose their next three games, placing them in a hole at 4-6. They would have to win out or at least come close if they were going to be in the playoffs. As you know, this is exactly what they did.
The Jets won five of their final six games, which, with the struggles of other AFC wild card contenders, was good enough to get them the No. 5 seed in the playoffs. The Jets finished the regular season 9-7 and were third in the league in rushing yards per game, behind the Bengals and the Saints, who led New York in the category by a single yard.
Now it was off to Cincinnati, where the Jets had to stop the Bengals' two-dimensional offense. Well, they couldn't stop the run from Cedric Benson, who scampered for a hefty 169 yards, but they did stop the passing game. This has been something we have come to expect out of the Jets. Darelle Revis held Chad Ochocinco to only two catches for 28 yards, and Carson Palmer was held to under 146 passing yards.
Even after this amazing win, there were still plenty of doubters, especially with the Jets now having to travel to San Diego to face the Chargers, who came out with a 13-3 regular season record, which was tied for second best in the NFL. Yet the Jets, once again, pulled out a win (thanks for the help, Nate Kaeding).
Indy has a horrid run defense in the NFL, and they will not be able to handle Thomas Jones, one of the best running backs in the NFL, and Shonn Greene, an emerging rookie.
All the Colts really have on offense is their passing game, since rookie running back Donald Brown has not lived up to expectations and Joseph Addai is far from how good he used to be. The Jets secondary will prove that they can play against anyone by winning this game.
Now comes the Super Bowl. Here is the breakdown if they were to play the Saints: Even though the Jets had a loss earlier in the year to New Orleans, New York's squad was far from as developed as it is now. Sanchez doesn't rack up great stats, but he gets the job done. Their running game is amazing, and once again, the Jets secondary can match up against anyone.
I believe what the Jets would really have to worry about in this game is the speed of Reggie Bush. They need to cut him off when he runs and get through the offensive line as quickly as possible. If they do so, they win. It won't be easy, but we have learned to expect the unexpected from New York.
Adrian Peterson has been inconsistent this year. Sure, he came away with some good numbers in the regular season. But we know the fumbling problem he has. No matter how hard the Vikings try to look past it, the issue is still there. The Jets defense is very smart and will strip balls from Peterson every chance they get.
If New York can get the running game going against the guys on the line for Minnesota, we just may see a No. 5 seed wiggle its way to a Super Bowl victory.
The odds are against the Jets, considering a rookie quarterback and coach have never led their team to an NFL championship in their first seasons. Forgetting about that, New York can attack you in many ways, and points against them are hard to come by.
Mark my words: The New York Jets will be Super Bowl champion at season's end.