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Jets Playoff Life Support Update: Taking on the Bumbling Bills

Mark Sanchez's consistent performance over the next six games is vital to the Jets playoff run (www.cdn.cloudfiles.com).

No NFL team is more deeply situated in a playoff life support state than the New York Jets.  At 5-5 and one game behind the surprising 6-4 Cincinnati Bengals, the Jets will most likely have to win five out of their next six games to qualify for the playoffs as the sixth seed in the AFC. Their first test:  The plummeting 5-5 Buffalo Bills, a team falling apart at the seams.

Some questions going into Sunday afternoon’s contest…

Very grave analysis above. Let’s be more positive: three reasons why the Jets are in a better position to make the playoffs than any other bubble squad right now?

Sure. The Jets have more talent than the other 5-5 teams in the AFC (the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, and the Tennesee Titans). The Jets defense is Super Bowl quality, and Mark Sanchez should play with sufficient consistency for the rest of the season. Why? Because the Jets have a schedule that any talented team should devour. They get the Buffalo Bills once more, the KC Chiefs, a Giants team that may very well be floundering by late December, a matchup against the Eagles whose QB may be second string sensation Vince Young (three interceptions against the Giants last week), and some other insignificant franchise. Not only is a 5-1 record manageable against these teams, but it should be expected.

I’d like to think of more nice things to say about the Jets as a team, but I really can’t, so let’s go back to their oppositions’ more miserable situations.  The currently 6-4 Bengals have to play both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens once each this year.  They also have a date with the Houston Texans, who currently boast the NFL’s top defense.  Depending on how their back-up QB Matt Leinart plays, the Texans would most likely be favored to defeat the Bengals.

So, then just as you guaranteed a win against the Broncos last week, you are doing so against the Bills? Certainly, the Vegas line is: the Jets are favorite to win Sunday by 9.5 points.

If you’re worried that the Jets are in bad shape, then just give the Bills a look. You’ll feel much better. Early season sensation Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started the first five games in a blaze, has regressed back to career form. His interception tally is now at a nice, robust 14 for the year. So, all things considered, Fitzpatrick should be easy prey for the Jets active secondary.

The Bills defense stinks on all fronts. Sanchez should have enough time to make the decisions he wants in the pocket. So, as long as the decisions that Sanchez wants aren’t terrible (hmmm?), the Jets will be more than fine.

The 9.5-point spread basically says that the Bills at 5-5 is a hyper inflated record buttressed by a QB who over-performed early in the season against other teams who were underperforming at the time (the Patriots, Eagles). It’s like this: the early season NFL is a volatile stock-market; a team’s true value is only revealed around the last third of the season. Now, Fred Jackson, the NFL’s third leading rusher, is out for the year, so that’s a huge blow for the Bills. Jackson’s value as a top shelf running back is very real and they will miss him.

Rex Ryan Actually Condoned Ndamukong Suh’s Gratuiously Violent Behavior against the Green Bay Packers this week. Ryan Dismissed Suh’s Deplorable Behavior, and Went on to Invite Suh on to Join the Jets Organization. What Does Any of This Have to do with the Jets winning, I wonder.

Earlier this year, a wide receiver mutiny erupted before the Jets went into the toughest part of their season schedule. Mark Sanchez has played an undisciplined game at quarterback, making rookie mistakes during critical stages of games. Could it be that the Jets head coach’s own controversial outspokeness is starting to rub off negatively on a young team that already has maturity and discipline issues of its own? Shouldn’t Ryan’s strategy at this point be to impress upon the Jets squad that they need to come together as would an elite professional organization?

There is no doubt that Ryan is a tough head coach, and that is ruggedness is inspirational.  However, perhaps Ryan needs to aspire a little more to AFC nemesis Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who is as tough as he is stately.

About Argun M. Ulgen

When I was young, my dad and I used to watch a lot of MSG midnight replays of Knicks basketball after he came home from work. One night at 1am we grilled steaks and watched the Knicks somehow hold onto a 4th quarter lead. Sometime later, I started to fall in love with reading all sorts of literature, including sports books.The dawning of this romance came soon after my deep relationships with HBO reruns of its fine series programming, not to mention the Encore channel's more than generous replays of Scarface, came to a close. I write, but only when I don't feel like being idle. Feel free to AIM me at YoProtein (that's "Yo, Protein!") with comments or suggestions about my work. I more than welcome feedback.

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