If you think the New York Jets' circus has been over-the-top in the regular season, just wait 'til the playoffs.
Yes, the wretched, inexcusable, bass-ackwards, butt-fumbling Jets – the team dumped by Fireman Ed – have a shot at the postseason. And as several media outlets pointed out Monday, it doesn't take Nate Silver to figure out a feasible path to get there.
Gang Green is 6-7, one game out of the final AFC spot, so the team will likely need to win three straight after its uninspiring victory over Jacksonville Sunday. But that's not out of the question. The Jets face the Titans, Chargers, and Bills – none of which are going to the playoffs. Tennessee is just north of terrible, the Chargers (despite a surprising win over Pittsburgh Sunday) are in disarray, and the Jets have already smoked Buffalo this season.
Rex Ryan and company will need some help, but not a lot. The Steelers will need to lose twice – not unlikely – and the Bengals need to lose once – also not unlikely. The Steelers play Dallas and Cincinnati, and the Bengals face Baltimore.
"A lot of people have counted us out and picked against us," linebacker Calvin Pace told the New York Post. "That's why you play the game. Any given Sunday, you never know."
Granted, at this time of year, there are quite a few teams that have a shot. The Rams are still in it, for crying out loud. And yes, these are the Jets, who have made hardly any headlines for anything other than ineptitude, infighting and (quarterback) intrigue. But if you're not already rolling your eyes, consider what happened in 2009, when the seven-loss Jets beat the Bengals and Chargers to advance to the AFC title game. Mark Sanchez, much maligned for his subpar play this season, led the way that year as a rookie when he had a similarly difficult year statistically. (Remember, the Colts basically let the Jets into the postseason by resting their starters against Sanchez and Co. in Week 17.)
Not even the bombastic Ryan would dare venture forth with bold statements about his team's chances on Monday. "I'm not going to guarantee a playoff spot," he told reporters. "The fact that we're one game under .500, I think you're probably not in the playoff conversation."
Smart move, but of course the Jets end up in every conversation, because they're the Jets. And although the team has been something close to unwatchable (barely beating the hapless Jags Sunday), the team still has a defense that can force turnovers and turn games (especially in bad weather) in its favor. As he predicted before the season, Ryan has a top-10 defense. The Jets are currently 8th in the league in total yards allowed.
"If we don't turn the ball over, we're going to be a tough team to beat," Ryan said. "The only way we can affect it is to win our games and then we'll see what somebody tells us."
That's kind of what another seven-loss New York team did last year. That would be the 9-7 Giants, who beat the Jets late in the season to start a win streak that culminated in a Super Bowl title.
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