The New York Jets are sitting atop the AFC East with a 9-2 record heading in to next Monday's showdown with the 9-2 New England Patriots. The winner of that game will have a major advantage in the division race.
But it seems that after every one of the Jets' wins this season, the team has had to defend itself.
There are many members of the media, and fans of opposing teams, who discredit the Jets because they have had many games go down to the wire, against teams who are much weaker then them. Many fans are saying the Jets aren't Super Bowl contenders just yet, but rather that they have just been very lucky.
Well, obviously they have been lucky. Who hasn't been lucky? Can you name me a Super Bowl winner that never got a lucky break all season?
Winning a championship in professional sports requires two things: skill and luck. You need to get lucky breaks along the way, and you need to have the skill to capitalize on those lucky breaks.
After every Jets win this season—and there have been nine of them, compared to only two games where they've lost—the critics come out and talk about how lucky the Jets got.
But how much is luck and how much is skill?
There is no doubt the Jets have gotten their fair share of luck this season. The Lions throwing an incomplete pass with under two minutes to go while holding a three point lead was a very lucky break. But that didn't win the game for the Jets, their skill did.
The Jets still had to be there to force the pass to fall incomplete. After that, they still had drive down the field and get into field goal range with no timeouts. The Lions didn't just say, "Oh since we threw incomplete just take three points." The Jets still had to do that themselves.
The following week in Cleveland, it looked like the Jets would be undone in overtime. But then Browns wide receiver Chansi Stuckey fumbled the ball in field goal range, allowing the Jets to recover. Was that luck, or was that great defense by the Jets?
The answer was both. Stuckey didn't just drop the ball, he had it stripped from him. Yes he might not have protected it as best as he could, but the Jets still got it out. This isn't that surprising, the Jets go after the ball on every tackle and have recovered more fumbles then any other team.
When the Jets nearly collapsed against Houston the following week, everyone was right there to call the Jets lucky to be able to march down the field against Houston in 50 seconds. Was that really lucky?
No it wasn't. They were playing Houston, the team with the worst pass defense in football. It's not just the worst pass defense in football, it's on pace to be historically the worst.
When the Jets got into the huddle they knew they were facing a bad defense and had a chance. It wasn't like they were going up against the best defense of all-time and someone just tripped on their shoelaces. No, they were facing a defense that they knew they could beat, and anyone else in the NFL could beat them if they were in the same situation.
Even against a bad defense, they still had to make plays. Yes, they got soft coverage on the bomb to Braylon Edwards, but they still had to run the play. Edwards was running a go route, the Jets never expected him to be open. Sanchez just happened to find him and threw a perfect pass. If that pass isn't perfect, that ball is incomplete—same thing for the touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes on the next play.
It's gotten to the point where it is ridiculous when I heard someone say that the Jets were lucky to beat the Bengals because Carson Palmer threw an interception from the 10-yard line in the second quarter. So all of a sudden that's luck? That isn't the Jets defense making a great play?
That is like saying every interception in football is luck and not because of good defense. Give me a break.
There's no doubt the Giants had a great team in 2007. They got hot at the right time and they could have beaten anybody in the league that year. And they did, even beating the 18-0 Patriots.
But weren't they lucky that Asante Samuel dropped that interception that was in his hands as the Giants were driving down the field for the game winning touchdown?
Or how about the next play? Do you mean to tell me that David Tyree's helmet catch was all skill, and not luck that a) he made the catch and b) the ref didn't blow the play dead in the backfield?
Their luck wasn't done there. When the Patriots got the ball back they were as close as could be to getting into field goal range if it weren't for Randy Moss dropping what might have been Tom Brady's best throw of his career.
People like to bring up how the Jets were lucky to beat the Browns because Nick Folk missed three field goals. Do you mind telling me how many Lawrence Tynes missed in the NFC Championship in Green Bay?
The Giants got lucky, and they took advantage of it, that's what good teams do.
The Jets have been getting lucky this year, but if you want to win in the NFL you don't just need skill, you need luck too. And you don't get to 9-2 without skill.