It may sound odd to many, but the New York Jets are in the driver’s seat for the AFC’s second wildcard berth. Outside of the Denver Broncos, the Jets are the AFC’s only non-division leader with a winning record. That fact may speak to the ineptness of the rest of the AFC, but it’s hard not to like the Jets’ chances going forward. Couple the Jets’ 5-4 record with division foe Miami’s problems protecting Ryan Tannehill and off-field issues and the Jets should be able to able to dominate a rather easy second half schedule en-route to a playoff berth. Carolina may be the only team to present some issues. Still, this team has been inconsistent from Rex Ryan to Geno Smith, so the question is worth asking: Can the Jets hang impose their will make the playoffs for the third time in five seasons?
The strength of Rex Ryan’s teams has only been consistent special teams play and good defenses. Ryan’s defense and special teams play always seems to cover up shoddy quarterback play. Look back to Mark Sanchez’s tenure as the Jets’ starting quarterback. Sanchez ‘led’ the Jets to four road playoff wins, but Ryan’s defense carried the team to victory. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and cornerback Antonio Cromartie anchor the defense. While Cromartie and the secondary hasn’t been as good as it has been, Wilkerson is playing like an All-Pro and rookie Sheldon Richardson is a strong rookie of the year candidate. While the defense has been strong, the offensive play has once again been very inconsistent.
Rookie quarterback, Geno Smith has had an up-and-down rookie season. Smith has appeared as a serviceable game manager in certain game while looking like an erratic rookie in others. Smith has not benefited from his receiving core that has been injured and completely ineffective at times. Smith’s slate of second half opponents (BUF, MIA x2, BAL, CLE, OAK, CAR) aren’t too daunting. Smith may have issues with Baltimore and Carolina, but should be able to throw more in his remaining five contests.
The second half of the schedule gets underway on Sunday afternoon in Buffalo. NFL Mobile Odds has Buffalo listed as a one-point favorite, but the Jets have won three straight games at Buffalo. Smith threw for over 300 yards as the Jets defeated the Bills, 27-20 earlier this season.
Expect another strong showing from the Jet defense as they build towards a playoff run.