Another Ryan-Belichick Drama, With Lower Stakes

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 9: Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Rex Ryan of the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on October 9, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Very best friends.

You know, if you look at the Jets’ schedule, a win tomorrow night, Thanksgiving night, against the Patriots could start to make matters interesting.

Here are the Jets’ games the rest of the way, after tomorrow night:

December 2: versus Arizona
December 9: at Jacksonville
December 17: at Tennessee
December 23: versus San Diego
December 30: at Buffalo

At the risk of sounding silly … those are all sort of winnable games, right? Now, this is the Jets we’re talking about: Each one of those five teams is looking at the Jets on their schedule and saying, “Hey, that’s a winnable game,” but still. The Jets are 4–6 and probably need to win the rest of their games to have a chance at the playoffs. And their toughest one is tomorrow night.

For all of Rex Ryan’s big talk about taking on Bill Belichick when he took over as HC of the NYJ, this is going to be the fourth consecutive season the Patriots will win the AFC East. They’re already three games up on the Bills, Jets, and Dolphins, and while their schedule is tougher the rest of the way than the Jets’ is, it’s tough to see them coughing up a three-game lead even if the Jets do win tomorrow night.

But it’s worth noting that the Jets are highly unlikely to win tomorrow night. The offense had its best game in a month against St. Louis on Sunday, and even though the Patriots defense can be had, it’s difficult to see how it can be had enough to keep up with the Patriots’ offense. The Patriots are missing Rob Gronkowski, and their offense has often sputtered without him, but again: They’re still stacked with about five more playmakers than the Jets have. The Jets will need an absolutely perfect game from Mark Sanchez and the running game to even have a chance to pull off the upset. And they’re almost certain to get less than that. It’d be nice to see the Jets make a goofy late-season run, just for the novelty of it. But if they lose tomorrow, it’ll be over before it starts. It’s tough to see the Jets pulling it together. Patriots 31, Jets 16.

Another Ryan-Belichick Drama, With Lower Stakes