With their best start in seven years, the Jets are understandably excited about how their season has gone so far. But can they keep it up, and make it to the postseason?
Gang Green hasn’t seen the playoffs since 2010, when they posted an 11–5 record, when then-wonderkind Mark Sanchez was under center for the team, and Rex Ryan was the head coach on the sidelines.
Much of the time since then, they’ve run into the football behemoth of the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick-led New England Patriots, which created a daunting task for New York in the AFC East.
Unfortunately for this era of the Jets, while Brady is gone and the Patriots are eminently-beatable, a new divisional powerhouse has emerged: the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills are sitting at a 5–1 record, one game ahead of the 4–2 Jets through six games this season. Both other AFC East teams, the Patriots and the Miami Dolphins are 3–3.
Both the Jets and the Bills will face off twice later in the season — first at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 6, and then again in Buffalo on Dec. 11.
While it remains a stretch that the Jets could overtake the Josh Allen-led Bills in the divisions, there are three Wild Card spots up for grabs, with the Jets sitting as the sixth seed at the moment (the 4–2 Los Angeles Chargers hold the tiebreaker over New York based on having a better win percentage in conference games).
But, if the season ended today, they would break the longest active playoff drought in the NFL.
Not to get ahead of ourselves, the Jets have been lucky early this season, as they’ve faced two teams that were missing their starting quarterback (Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins), and drawn some less-than-stellar opponents like the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But they handedly beat the Green Bay Packers last week, and their defense is shaping up to be among the elite quads in the NFL.
At the same time, their offense seems to be meshing, with a now-healthy quarterback, an offensive line that is coming together, a deep wide receiving core, and a rookie running back in Breece Hall that looks like a consummate stud.
The team has scored 143 points this season (eighth most in the NFL), and allowed just 128 points from opposing offenses (18th-least).
Just three of their remaining games are slated to come against teams that currently have a winning record (both Bills games, and a contest against the Vikings), with all other matchups coming against .500 teams or worse.
They also have a nearly-equal amount of home and away games, with five of their remaining 11 games coming at MetLife Stadium, and six others on the road.
Sunday’s matchup with the 2–4 Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium will be a big factor in their ability to remain in the postseason conversation, but things are definitely looking up for the Robert Saleh-led Jets.
The coach said earlier this season that “we’re all taking receipts on all the people who continually mock and say that we ain’t gonna do anything.” At the time, they lost both of their opening matchups.
Maybe he was on to something.