Thirteen down, three to go. That's all that's left for the Jets to prove themselves, right the ship and get themselves into the playoffs. Right now the Jets are reeling after consecutive loses to two average teams, the 49ers and Broncos. Now they are down to the final three games and none of them are going to be easy, despite what their records are. This week the Jets welcome the Buffalo Bills to the Meadowlands with a chance for the Bills to play the role of playoff spoiler.
During the Jets five game winning streak last month, the offense was averaging about 32 points per game. That has dropped to 17 over the past two games. Brett Favre has not found the end zone over the past two games with the exception of a rushing touchdown last week. Buffalo has a decent pass defense so this week will not be easy for Favre. They only give up about 200 yards per game in the air. The Jets and Favre have done a horrible job of getting the ball to their top two receivers in Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles over the past few weeks. During the past two games, Coles has a total of 3 catches for about 7 yards. That is just totally unacceptable. New York has to get these two back in the offensive game plan once again. It seems that if they can not get them the ball in the first quarter then they quit trying for the rest of the game. Dustin Keller, who had been emerging as a huge threat during the month of November, was also shut down by San Francisco last week. If this keeps happening, the Jets will not win another game this season. In the beginning of the season, it seemed like the Jets used more play action and threw the ball deep. Now, it is all about the dink and dunk over the middle. If the Jets can re-establish the deep threat then the offense will be fine.
The running game has been solid all season. Thomas Jones is still the AFC leader in rushing and he should have another good game this week. The Bills run defense is in the middle of the pack, giving up about 110 yards per game on the ground. Last week Jones only got 56 rushing yards, but that's what happens when you only get 10 carries. Jones is the Jets workhorse and needs to get around 20 carries per game. Nine times out of tem, when he gets 20 carries he will get 100 yards. On the flip side, Leon Washington seems to be getting less carries out of the backfield. Leon is the team's spark plug. When he gets the ball, good things seem to happen for the Jets. He is always a threat as a receiver but needs to get some carries as well. He always has the ability to break off a 30-40 yard run from time to time with his limited action out of the backfield. He needs to get the ball at least 10-15 times per game between rushing and receiving. If they can get the running game going early, then they should be able to move the ball with the passing game.
New York's still one of the best at stopping the run. They are currently ranked 4th in the league, giving up about 83 yards per game. After their worst performance of the season two weeks ago, they bounced back last week by not allowing any back more than 52 yards on the ground. The last time they faced the Bills, they held Marshawn Lynch to a career low 16 yards. I expect them to step it up this week again and hold Lynch under 75 yards. The pass rush was better in getting two sacks on Shaun Hill last week, but it has lacked over the past month or so. The Jets are still 4th in the NFL with 37 sacks, but not too many of them have come over the past four weeks. J.P. Losman is likely to start for the Bills and the Jets need to get pressure on him and keep it on. Force him to make bad throws and cause some turnovers.
The Jets pass defense can now be considered a joke. And that's hard to say with two possible Pro Bowlers in the secondary in Kerry Rhodes and Darrelle Revis. Even with the two of them out there the Jets have managed to have the 31st ranked pass defense in the NFL, giving up 251 yards per game in the air. Over the past four games they have given up 400 yards to Matt Cassell, 243 yards to Kerry Collins, 375 to Jay Cutler and 285 to Shaun Hill. That's 1300 yards over four games with an average of 325 per game. That's just pathetic. If this is not improved over the next three games, then say goodbye to the playoffs. David Harris had a nice return last week and led the team with 13 tackles and a sack. Hopefully his continued presence on the field will help out with the passing defense, but only time will tell and the Jets are running out of time fast.
Three weeks ago, New York was considered the best team in the AFC. Now they may not even make the playoffs. Like I've said before, this team will only go as far as Favre will take them. Mangini has to stop with the dink and dunk offense and all the trick plays and just let Favre do his thing. The clock is ticking and the Jets season may be coming to a premature close. A season that once looked so promising has done a huge u-turn and now no one knows where it will lead us. It's time for the Jets to step up and show everyone what kind of team they are. The team that beat the Patriots and Titans or the team that lost to the Raiders and the 49ers. I guess we will find out over the next three weeks, starting with Sunday against the Bills. Jets take a close one 24-20. That's all they need right now. A little confidence can go a long way.