Believe it or not, the New York Jets are right on track to make the playoffs. Yes, the same Jets who were left for dead just three weeks ago after an ugly 2-3 start to the season.
The same Jets whose locker room was in complete disarray with infighting between wide receivers, the offensive line and offensive coordinator.
The same Jets whose head coach’s loud-mouth, brash-talking style was not getting through to his players anymore.
The same Jets whose offense was so horrible that it needed almost an entire first half to get a first down against the winless Miami Dolphins just a week ago.
The Jets' miraculous turnaround started against the New England Patriots in Foxborough in Week 5. Even though it was a loss, they started the transformation back to their successful ground and pound game. The defense also had a very strong showing, intercepting Tom Brady while sacking him four times.
In the Patriots game, the Jets, as a team, compiled 97 rushing yards. In their previous game against the Baltimore Ravens, they had just 38 rushing yards as a team.
Here are five reasons why the Jets are going to make the playoffs.
Finally, the commitment to the running game is back and it shows. After going back to ground and pound against the Patriots in Week 5, the Jets won their next two games.
The Jets rushed for 104 yards against the Dolphins —their season high at the time—followed by a 162 yards against the San Diego Chargers.
Running back Shonn Greene finally broke through his season-long drought of 100-yard rushing games with a 112-yard performance, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Greene is getting better every game and should break the 100-yard mark many more times this season.
If something happens to Shonn Greene, you can all but stick a fork in the Jets.
Barring a miracle, or a reverse aging machine, I think it is safe to say that LaDainian Tomlinson’s days as a No. 1 running back are behind him.
This would leave the Jets with Joe McKnight who, while a very good special teams player, has really shown nothing as a lead back in the NFL. Next on the depth chart would be unknown rookie RB Bilal Powell.
Good luck with that.
Plaxico Burress lives! Where was he? Why did it take so long for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to get him involved?
Though it was just one game, three touchdowns is not something to brush off.
The game against the Chargers showed exactly how Burress can still be very useful—as a red zone target. He does not have the speed anymore to stretch the field. But in shortened field situations, where Burress relies on his height rather than his speed, he could be deadly.
At 6’5", Burress towers over most of the cornerbacks. All Mark Sanchez has to do is throw high. It’s not rocket science.
If Schottenheimer goes back to not using Plaxico in the game plan, the Jets will go back to their red zone woes.
For the Jets to be a threat to make the playoffs, they need to utilize Burress, Santonio Holmes rookie WR Patrick Kerley, along with tight end Dustin Keller.
Mark Sanchez has to rely on all his weapons instead of having just one or two of them step up per game.
Santonio Holmes has turned into Old Reliable for the Jets' offense. While his numbers are not too good this season, when Sanchez goes deep, he’s most likely going to Holmes. Holmes is also good with the underneath routes, which he can extend due to his speed.
If the Jets want to continue to be successful, they may have to focus on getting Holmes the ball just a little more. It will help on and off the field. Getting Holmes the ball will keep him quiet in the locker room.
Leaving their most reliable receiver, Santonio Holmes, off their game plan would not be smart. If he gets disinterested, he could become a distraction, as we saw earlier this season.
The Jets defense just put together two good games. While the first game was against the winless Dolphins, it was still pretty impressive. The Jets kept the Dolphins out of the end zone, allowing only two field goals while causing three turnovers (one returned for a TD) and four sacks.
Against San Diego, the Jets defense held the Chargers to a total of 268 yards. They were previously averaging 416 per game, and caused two turnovers.
The defense needs to keep this play up because they are still what makes the Jets go.
If the Jets defense reverts back to the way they played their opening game against the Dallas Cowboys—in which they allowed Tony Romo to throw for 342 yards with two touchdowns—they will be in trouble.
The Jets defense also cannot let a rusher rack up 171 yards with two TDs like Darren McFadden did in Week 3.
After their bye week, the Jets have two huge games. The first one is against the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo. The second is against the New England Patriots in New Jersey.
If the Jets go 2-0 in these games, one possibility could see the Jets pulling even with the Bills at 5-3. That is, if the Bills lose to a hungry Washington Redskins team this week.
If the Patriots lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh this week, the Jets would be just one game behind them for the division. This would be best case scenario.
If Buffalo and the Patriots win both of their next games, and then the Jets beat them, the Jets would be one game behind the Bills and two behind the Pats. From there, a favorable schedule could help the Jets capture the AFC East title or a wild card playoff spot.
If the Jets lose to both the Bills and Patriots, they have no shot at the AFC East title and may have some trouble battling for one of the wild card spots.
In this scenario, assuming the Patriots, the Baltimore Ravens, the Houston Texans and Chargers win their divisions, the wild card spots would be left to the Jets, Bills, Steelers, Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals. If it comes down to these five, I would have faith that the Jets could get one of those spots.