After the Jets’ warm but pointless 38–7 win over the Bills yesterday, Rex Ryan bellied up to the postgame podium like he always does. He was asked if he felt his team was the favorite again, heading into the playoffs. He responded by saying, “I was excited last year. I thought we’d win it last year. I think we’re going to win it this year. So we’ll see. Regardless of who we play, we think we’re better than any team out there. We’ve got to go prove it, though.” For some reason, this has been seen as Ryan being “boastful” again, instead of honestly answering the question. What was he supposed to say? “Well, you know, we’re not that good right now. We’re probably going to lose.” Rex Ryan has defined himself by a belief in himself and his team. Was that supposed to change because of some foot-fetish photos? He’s Rex Ryan. Foot-fetish photos never change who a person is. Trust us, we know.
Anyway, for all the drama of this season — and there has never been a Jets season with more — the Jets ended up with the No. 6 seed, which is one lower than they had during last year’s improbable playoff run. They probably had an easier first-round opponent last year too. Then they played a wobbling Cincinnati team; now they have the Indianapolis Colts, who may be wobbling but still have Peyton Manning. The Kansas City Chiefs might have been the preferable opponent, but they did the Jets the disfavor of losing to Oakland yesterday, bumping them down to the No. 4 spot in a likely unwatchable game against the Baltimore Ravens. (The Ravens are always our least favorite team to watch in the playoffs.) The Jets will kick off Saturday night, 8 p.m., on NBC, the premiere showcase of the weekend. Expect endless pregame features on Ryan and whether he is “chastened.” Lord, we hope not.
Mark Sanchez was in for eight plays yesterday, and Mark Brunell — who is still alive, apparently — took over from there. Mark Brunell is 40 years old, but he played better than Brett Favre did at any point this season. Also: Joe McKnight! The oft-troubled USC kid played well, which is of a small relief to those who have been blaming him for the Jets losing Danny Woodhead. But a paragraph is probably more than yesterday’s game deserves.
So, the Jets have a week to prepare for the Colts, and if they win they play the Patriots, and if they win that they probably play the Steelers. Ryan and the Jets have been claiming for two years that they represent the new era of the AFC, a changing of the guard from the dominant teams of the last decade. It has lined up perfectly for them to prove it.