Losing to the San Fransisco 49ers on Sunday just may have ended the Jets playoff hopes. The final knockout punch could come from cut quarterback Chad Pennington and his surprising Miami Dolphins in the final game of the regular season.
What happened to this Jets team after beating the previously undefeated Tennessee Titans? Did they start to believe in their own hype? Did they think they were the team to beat in the AFC as many experts touted them? Or were they just a pretender and not contender all along?
Looking back at their schedule it is hard to find any quality wins except for their two most recent over the Titans and Patriots. In the first week they narrowly beat the Dolphins. Then they followed their 1-0 start off with a loss to the Patriots, which was a game where Matt Cassel made his first start since high school, then they got trounced by the Chargers in San Diego.
In week four, the Jets had a coming out party against the now playoff-bound Arizona Cardinals before heading into their bye. During the next five games, the Jets racked up wins against the lowly Bengals and Rams, narrowly defeated the Chiefs, lost to the 3-10 Raiders, and beat the free falling Bills.
The Jets went on to beat the Patriots and the Titans to capture first place, alone, in the AFC East and looked clearly on their way to winning the division and into the playoffs.
Since then, the Jets look like a different team. In their loss to the Broncos, their rush defense, which had been solid all season, seemed non existent. In San Fransisco, the Jets offense was out if sync, and only managed 182 total yards with Favre completing one pass each to Coles and Cotchery, his two primary targets.
Losses against Denver and the 49ers have left the Jets in their current position, a three way tie atop the AFC East with the Dolphins and Patriots. It looks like the Jets are going to have to win their division in order to get into the playoffs due to the surging Colts and Ravens.
The Jets next two games should be winnable, although no one really knows what games are winnable with them. First up is Buffalo at home, a game the Jets should be able to get up for if they have any pride left. Then it is off to Seattle to meet the struggling Seahawks. After these two games, which should produce two victories, they play Miami in their season finale at home.
The Miami game can very well be a battle for the AFC East crown and a ticket to the playoffs. In that meeting, good old Chad Pennington will be back with the possibility of knocking the Jets out of the playoffs, retiring the great Brett Favre and leaving New York with no quarterback for the future. And no, Kellen Clemens is not the future.
With one win, Chad Pennington can end the team that tried to end him.
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