By Peter Schwartz
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When the Jets won three straight games to improve to 8-5, it gave them something that every team would like to have down the stretch.
Control of their playoff destiny.
Even after their loss to the Eagles, the Jets still had that control, but it slipped away after the loss to the Giants. Now, in order to make the playoffs for a third straight season, the Jets need a win over the Dolphins and lots of help.
Despite destiny not being in their own hands, the rallying cry around the team is that they are alive and kicking.
“When you look at it, everything you do in the off-season, all the practices, training camp, all the games, and everything else is to get to where you have a chance at the playoffs,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “Obviously, you’d like it to be in a different circumstance, but it’s a lot easier when you have a chance at the playoffs to motivate your guys. It’s sitting there right in front of you,”
Four things have to happen on Sunday for the Jets to punch their ticket to the post-season…
*Jets beat the Dolphins in South Florida
*Bengals lose at home to the Ravens
*Titans lose on the road to the Texans
*Either a Broncos loss at home to the Chiefs or a Raiders loss at home to the Chargers
Is it impossible for the Jets to make it?
Is it likely?
If they don’t make the playoffs, all the Jets can do is look in the mirror.
“We let everything get out of our own hands,” said wide receiver Plaxico Burress. “With respect to that, all we can do is go out there and win this football game and see what happens. If we do get in, great. If things don’t work out, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.”
The Jets need a lot of help, but they have no chance if they don’t take care of their own business against the Dolphins. This is not the same Miami team that they thumped 24-6 at MetLife Stadium back in October. After an 0-7 start, the Dolphins have won five of their last eight games.
Their defense is a big reason for the turnaround.
“Their record (5-10) is in no way indicative of this team, their talent and the way they are all playing together,” said Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. “They’re healthy. Jason Taylor is playing his butt off. He’s doing a great job. Vontae Davis is healthy. Him and Sean Smith are probably two of the best corners we’ll see all year. Then, if we win the game, it could be like that all through the playoffs if we’re in, so this is a good test for us. That front seven, there aren’t much better than that, especially when they’re playing the way they can and the way they have shown these last couple of weeks, so we’re going to have our work cut out for us.”
Jason Taylor should be a little extra pumped up for this game. The longtime Dolphin who played for the Jets last season has announced his retirement effective at the end of the season.
“Sunday’s my last game,” said the NFL’s active sack leader. “I might even change my cell phone number so they can’t reach me.”
It all makes for what should be an emotional day at Sun Life Stadium.
Jets at Dolphins
Titans at Texans
If the Jets win and the Titans lose, then Gang Green’s playoff fate will be decided in the late games.
Ravens at Bengals
Chiefs at Broncos
Chargers at Raiders
Linebacker David Harris is having an outstanding season but was a Pro Bowl snub. He has registered four interceptions to go along with five sacks and a team leading 110 tackles. He’s a second alternate for the Pro Bowl so chances are he will go as soon as guys start dropping out.
Shonn Greene needs just one yard against the Dolphins to notch his first career 1,000 yard rushing season. The last Jet to rush for over 1,000 yards was Thomas Jones with 1,402 yards in 2009.
With a win on Sunday, the Jets will finish with a 9-7 record. If that happens, the Jets will have registered four consecutive winning seasons for the first time in franchise history.
The Jets lead the NFL in red-zone efficiency scoring touchdowns on 66.7% (34 of 51) of their trips inside the twenty-yard line.
THE JETS/DOLPHINS SERIES
This will be the 92nd regular season meeting between these AFC East rivals. The Jets hold a 48-42-1 edge including a 24-6 win over the Fish earlier this season at Met Life Stadium.
THREE JETS ARE HAWAII BOUND
Unless the Jets find a way to sneak into the playoffs and make a run to the Super Bowl, they will have at least three participants in the Pro Bowl.
CB Darrelle Revis will be making his fourth straight Pro Bowl appearance and his third consecutive as a starter.
“I’m proud of the fact that Darrelle Revis made Pro Bowl as a starter, because if he didn’t, there shouldn’t be a game,” said Ryan. “You file that in the no-brainer right there. I’m proud of Darrelle representing us.”
LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson will be going to his third Pro Bowl. With the Dolphins’ Jake Long injured, Brick could get the start.
C Nick Mangold is Pro Bowl bound for the fourth straight season.
“It’s a huge honor,” said Mangold. “It’s greatly appreciated that the fans, coaches, and players think that of me. It’s a special honor.”
Three Jets are Pro Bowl alternates…KR Joe McKnight is a first alternate while LB David Harris and G Brandon Moore are second alternates.
Ryan has a plan to get Harris too next year’s Pro bowl.
“All he has to do is play exactly how he played this year, but take a dance class this summer, do something, because I can’t believe our opponents didn’t vote for him to be in the Pro Bowl,” said Ryan.
The head coach was also a little miffed that Moore was snubbed.
“Statistically he’s the only guard in the league that has not given up a sack or a hit on the quarterback,” said Ryan. “Now, he came off hip surgery and all that and he wasn’t knocking people on their backs the way he did the year before, because he’s getting healthy, but maybe you ought to look at that.”
Perhaps all three Jets alternates will go anyway since there’s always a ton of players who drop out of the Pro Bowl.
While the Jets have said all week that their focus is on the Dolphins and not on the other games that affect their playoff lives, I find it very hard to believe that they won’t be looking up at the Sun Life Stadium out-of-town scoreboard.
The Jets have been up and down all season long and there’s no telling which team is going to show up on Sunday. Having said that, I think there’s a lot of doubt that has seeped into that locker room and it makes for a very difficult spot for the Jets against a team that has shown some life in the second half of the season.
Dolphins 31 Jets 14
That’s all for now! Check back for more on Monday!
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