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Jets to play starters in season finale, despite lost playoff hopes

New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios reaches for the ball under pressure from Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson.
New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios reaches for the ball under pressure from Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson.
AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes

The Jets are looking to end their season on a high note, and will be playing their starters — despite already being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. 

Sitting at a 7–9 record on the season, Gang Green has no chance of seeing postseason action after their fifth-consecutive loss to the Seattle Seahawks last weekend, which will continue a 12-year trend of the Jets being denied a spot in the playoffs. 

Despite that, the team will come out in full force on Sunday with their team having nothing left to play for. 

The only thing left that the Jets could possibly achieve is denying their divisional rival, the Dolphins, a playoff spot (Miami would need to win, while they also need the Patriots to lose). 

Some teams opt to bench their starting players in meaningless games, but head coach Robert Saleh has gone a different route. 

“Anytime you have a chance to step on the field, you’ve got to go do the absolute best you can,” said Saleh.

Surley, they’d like to stop their current losing streak and head into the offseason on a high note — though that comes with serious risk. 

For every team in the NFL, that risk thrust into the forefront of their minds, as Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a catastrophic injury on Monday, when a hit from Bengals running back Tee Higgins sent him into cardiac arrest on the field. 

He needed several minutes of CPR while still on the field, and has been in intensive care ever since. 

Despite that, Saleh is sending his starters onto the field in Miami on Sunday. 

They’ll be going against a Miami team that is missing their starting quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, who is out with yet-another concussion that he suffered on Christmas Day against the Packers. 

The Jets meanwhile, have seen their own fair-share of injuries this year, including former second-overall pick Zach Wilson, the quarterback who suffered a knee injury in preseason that kept him out for the first three games of the season. 

Rookie running back Breece Hall tore his ACL in Week 7 of this year and ended a stellar first-year campaign. 

Meanwhile, left tackle Mekhi Becton’s preseason knee injury ended his season before it began, and safety Lamarcus Joyner injured his hip last week and will miss the finale. 

While injuries are undoubtedly a large part of the modern NFL, it is always an open question whether teams should play their starters in games that lack any playoff implications. 

Obviously, Saleh has opted to go all-in this final week, and potentially play a spoiler to Miami and their head coach Mike McDaniel.

“Would it be nice to have McDaniel hanging out with me poolside in a couple weeks? You’re damn right it would,” Saleh said with a smile.

For more coverage of the Jets, head to amNY.com.

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