If you are the type of sports fan who is obsessed with how your team is thought of by “the national media,” legitimately concerned with what Bob Costas and Tony Dungy have to say about the “moral fiber” of your franchise, then you might want to skip the pregame show for NBC’s Sunday Night Football this week. (Expect Dungy, in particular, to dig in with his unique brand of undermining disappointment.) If you’re a regular Jets fan and just care about a victory against a division rival, Sunday night could be the moment the Jets catapult into being the team the world (and they) thought they were coming into the season.
Last year’s Jets-Dolphins game in Miami was a terrific one, with the Dolphins winning with a final-seconds Ronnie Brown touchdown on Monday Night Football. It was a tough loss for the Jets (they’ve lost three in a row to Miami), who, as nice as their run to the AFC Championship Game was, were only 2-4 against the AFC East last year. A win on Sunday night would already equal their division win total last year, and they still get to play the Bills twice.
The game is also Jason Taylor’s first trip back to Miami as a Jet, and if this were baseball, we’d all be wondering how he’d be received back. But it isn’t, so he’ll just be a linebacker doing things that no one in the stands really notices.
If the Jets can win this one, their first road game, the path for them in the AFC East is cleared out. Their schedule is still difficult, but they will have a game on each of their main two competitors with Buffalo next week. Miami, on the other hand, is already 2-0 and can take a two-game lead on the Jets, leaving them in a tough hole after just three weeks. The Jets will have to do it without Darrelle Revis, which could cause them problems with Brandon Marshall, though he’s apparently already causing trouble in Miami.
The main takeaway from Sunday night’s game is that the Jets have little to lose. If they don’t win, the tabs will make a big deal out of the Braylon Edwards “distraction,” but it won’t really affect what the team has in front of it the rest of the way. And if they win, no one will care about Braylon Edwards other than to make fun of his beard, in case you needed any more reason to cheer for the Jets. Remember: Distractions are only distractions for teams that lose. To teams that win, they’re obstacles that were overcome. A loss for the Jets on Sunday isn’t crushing. But a win could be levitating.