The AFC is a strange place this year. The Colts are winless. The Chargers have lost four in a row. Only the Steelers and the Ravens remain among traditional AFC powers. And the Patriots look more wobbly than they have in nearly a decade. The Jets can put their boots on their throats this weekend, in the most satisfying way possible: By pushing them around.
The Patriots and Jets have as important of a non-playoff meeting as they've had during Rex Ryan's tenure on Sunday night, with the whole world watching. It's the ideal time for a Patriots team that is reeling to reassert some control over their season. But for the Jets, who finally rediscovered their mojo last week against Buffalo, it's a chance to take control of the AFC East by doing what they do best: knocking teams over and stepping on their unmentionables.
“Watching the film, you see how teams are trying to play ’em physical,” Darrelle Revis said Thursday. “You see the Steelers knocking around Wes Welker. And it’s a copycat league.”
We mentioned earlier this week how, if the Jets can win this Sunday, the schedule is clear for them not only to win the AFC East, but maybe beat the NFC East at the end of the season and end up with a top seed in the conference as a whole. And, all told, even if the Jets lose this week, they're in excellent position for a playoff spot, thanks to that schedule. But that would put them back as a number five or number six seed — the same position they've been in for the last two years.
The Jets and their fans are thinking bigger than that. They're thinking the next logical step: an AFC East title, a home playoff game and, mostly, the end of the Patriots' Belichickian–Bradyian stranglehold. The Jets played the best game of their season last week. If they can repeat at home Sunday night, they'll be the new powerhouse in the AFC East. Rex Ryan has been waiting a long time for Sunday night. Now's his chance to make it all happen.