As long as the Jets remain in prime position for a playoff spot, despite their tough losses and ugly wins, their backers can convince themselves that, hey, the Jets have everybody right where they want them. After all, the last two seasons, long-odds wild-card runs have been the Jets’ forte, so even if they just sneaked into the playoffs as a No. 6 seed, well, c’mon, that’s just the way they like it! After yesterday’s hideous 45-19 loss to the Eagles, it’s pretty difficult to still feel that way.
The Jets were blown off the field yesterday by an Eagles team that appears to be discovering itself just in time. (Amazingly, the Eagles are not only still in the playoff chase, they’re actually a Giants loss away from controlling their own destiny.) It was so bad that even Rex Ryan looked depressed, and Rex Ryan seems like one of those humans psychologically incapable of being depressed. “That’s as bad as it gets,” he said. It was certainly as bad as it has been for the Jets since he got here.
As much as you’d like to pin this on yet another off-performance by Mark Sanchez, it’s tough to get on the quarterback when you fall behind 28-0 midway through the second quarter. The Jets woke up briefly in the second half, but the Eagles, with their mojo restored, just continued to mow over them. That was the most disturbing part of the loss. Forget the Jets having lost their swagger; with the penalties and missed tackles and blown coverage, they seem to have forgotten the basics. The Jets didn’t just act vulnerable yesterday — the one part of their game they’ve always had, even when losing — they looked, simply, like a bad football team. They looked like a team that didn’t want to be there.
And … they’re still probably going to make the playoffs.
Losses by the Raiders and Titans yesterday helped clear the Jets’ path, even while they were being laid to waste. If the season ended today, they’d be in, playing the Texans as the No. 6 seed. If they win out, they’re in as the No. 6 seed. If they lose to the Giants next week, and if the Raiders, Bengals, Chargers, and Titans all lose at least one of their last two games, they’re still in. We even found a way that gets them in if they lose both of their last two games, though, to be fair, it does require a Week 17 tie between the Raiders and the Chargers. (If you’re curious, by the way, there’s still a path for both NYC teams to make the playoffs even if the Jets win on Saturday.)
This is all silly talk after the horrific losses by the Jets and Giants yesterday: For those teams to play so poorly, in Week 15, seems to make even the notion of playoffs offensive to the institution. But here the Jets are, still in control of their own destiny, somehow. It’s tough to see how they don’t fumble that, too.