By Peter Schwartz
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Winners of two straight, the Jets (7-5) continue their march toward a playoff spot when they host the Chiefs (5-7) Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Jets are tied with three other teams for the final AFC wild card spot so this could be a very pivotal week — as you will read later in the blog.
Although they are coming off of a win over the Bears, the Chiefs come to the Meadowlands with Tyler Palko as their starting quarterback. They had turned the reigns over to Kyle Orton during the game in Chicago, but Orton was injured on his first snap forcing Palko to return to the game.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is well aware of what Palko brings to the table, as they were teammates at the University of Pittsburgh.
“We had a lot of battles at Pitt,” said Revis. “He knows how I play. I know how he plays. It’s good. I’m sure he’s excited about this week, just as much as I am. He’s a big-time competitor.”
The big concern is a Chiefs defense led by former Teaneck High School star Tamba Hali. The linebacker has 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 59 tackles.
“They’ll put him all over the place,” said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. “It’s not like he’s always going to be on the right or always on the left. They move him all over the place, so we certainly have to know where he’s at.”
The Chiefs registered seven sacks against the Bears this past Sunday. This week, they will be facing a Jets offensive line that has not allowed a sack over the last two games.
That has given Mark Sanchez a chance to pull out two more fourth quarter victories.
“These last two weeks they’ve been their best all season,” said the Jets quarterback. “That’s where their focus is at, trying to maintain that success. The reason for it is because they’re working so hard. They are really paying attention to the details of the game plan. It’s been great.”
The bottom line is that this is a game that the Jets have to– and should — win. Breaking down the X’s and O’s is basically a moot point. The Jets simply have to win and hope that the AFC Wild Card picture turns in their favor this weekend.
THE PLAYOFF PICTURE
The Patriots, Steelers, Texans and Broncos all lead their respective divisions in the AFC. The Jets sit two games before the Patriots in the AFC East but its really three games since the Pats beat the Jets twice. The Ravens hold down the first AFC Wild Card spot with a 9-3 record. The Jets are one of four 7-5 teams in contention for the second wild card spot. Right now, the Bengals would be the second wild card team based on tiebreakers with the Jets, Raiders and Titans on the outside looking in.
Here’s a look at the remaining schedules for the four teams:
@ Rams (2-10)
@ Eagles (4-8)
@ Dolphins (4-8)
@ Packers (12-0)
@ Chiefs (5-7)
@ Colts (0-12)
@ Texans (9-3)
Even though they are winning the AFC West, I’ll include the 7-5 Broncos in case they fall behind the Raiders:
@ Bills (5-7)
Assuming the Jets win out, and that’s a big assumption, you can see that there is a realistic chance to make the playoffs. The other three (four if you include the Broncos) all have at least one game where you can project a possible loss.
If you think about it, the Jets could have destiny in their own hands after this weekend. Gang Green plays the Chiefs while the Bengals face the Texans, the Raiders take on the Packers and the Titans oppose the Saints.
My gut feeling is that if the Jets make the playoffs, it will be because of the events of this weekend. But, there are three weeks to go after this and you never know what’s going to happen.
WELCOME BACK THOMAS!
Chiefs running back Thomas Jones returns to the Meadowlands for the first time since being released by the Jets after the 2010 season. Jones played for the Jets from 2007-2009. When you hear some of the comments made about Jones this week, you wonder why the Jets let him go.
“The thing is, this organization and myself included, I thought the world of Thomas. We all did, and we all do,” said Ryan. “Clearly, Thomas was a great back for us. He had over 1,300 yards, his career high, (in 2009). Let’s face it, he got the tough yards when we needed it as well and I’ll always have a great deal of admiration for Thomas.”
“He was one of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” said Sanchez who was a rookie in 2009. He was just a real team leader, especially during that playoff push. He was one of the best players I’ve ever been around, so that was a fun time. I’m looking forward to seeing him.”
“He was a big-time leader for this team during his time here,” said Revis “I wish he wouldn’t have left. I wish we could still have him as a teammate, but we know how business is.”
“My first year (2009), I didn’t know anything about watching film and stuff like that,” said running back Shonn Greene. “Being with him and staying after, even after the coaches meeting, watching film. He would stay after just himself, and I would be there, too. So, that was another thing I picked up on.”
As for Jones facing his former team?
“I always have love for New York City and the New York Jets,” said Jones. “It was a just a great time that I had there, great friendships that I made there. So, I look forward to it. “
Jones has rushed for just 325 yards on 107 carries this season and has not scored a touchdown.
THE JETS/CHIEFS SERIES
This will be the 34th regular season meeting between the Jets and Chiefs in a series that is tied 16-16-1. The series dates back to early AFL days when the Jets were originally the New York Titans while the Kansas City Chiefs were once the Dallas Texans.
The Jets are 9-8-1 at home against the Chiefs, 3-1 at the Polo Grounds, 2-5 at Shea Stadium, and 4-2-1 at Giants Stadium. This will be Kansas City’s first trip to Met Life Stadium.
This will be the 5th time in the last six games between the teams that the Jets will be hosting the Chiefs. The last meeting was on 10/26/08 when Brett Favre hooked up with Laveranues Coles for the game winning 15-yard touchdown pass with 1:00 to go.
The Jets and Chiefs have met twice in the post-season. The Chiefs beat the Jets 13-6 in an AFL Divisional Playoff game at Shea on 12/20/69 while Gang Green topped KC 35-15 in an AFC Wild Card contest at Giants Stadium on 12/28/86.
Memo to Sanchez bashers: With this past Sunday’s win against the Redskins, Sanchez became just the 5th quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win 30 games in his first three NFL seasons. The others are Dan Marino, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, and Ben Roethlisberger.
The Jets offensive line, a unit that has struggled for most of the season, came through their second straight game without allowing a sack. That hasn’t happened since weeks three and four of the 2010 season. Three in a row will be a tough task against a Chiefs defense that recorded 7 sacks this past Sunday against the Bears.
Remember when the Jets had all kinds of trouble scoring in the red zone? Not this year! The Jets lead the NFL scoring touchdowns on 67.6% (25 of 37) of their trips inside the red zone.
The Jets’ defense ranks third in the NFL in third down conversion rate (31.4) and opponents’ passer rating (69.0), and fourth in opponents’ completion percentage (54.1).
The Jets, in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program and A-1 First Class-Viking Moving and Storage, will hold their annual Touchdown for Tots Toy Drive this Sunday at MetLife Stadium before the game against the Chiefs. Fans are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to benefit the Toys for Tots Program that will be collected at all gates upon entering the stadium.
This past Tuesday, the Jets hosted a holiday shopping spree at Toys “R” Us in Livingston, New Jersey for 25 students from Generation Jets Academy. Jets players Sione Pouha, Brodney Pool, Josh Mauga, Kenrick Ellis, Martin Tevaseu and Patrick Turner were on hand for the event. The participating students are receiving the opportunity to participate in this exciting event as an incentive for attendance and performance. Each student will have a $200 gift card provided by the New York Jets to shop for toys for the holidays.
That’s all for now! Check back on Monday for more!
Will the Jets force their way into an AFC wild card spot? Sound off in the comments below…