Why The Jets Can Make The Playoffs ESPN Insider
Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:05 PM
Mark SanchezEd Mulholland/USA TODAY SportsCan Mark Sanchez rebound and lead the New York Jets to the playoffs?
This year has been the season of the improbable in the NFL. From Peyton Manning overcoming multiple surgeries and the ravages of age to lead his team to Super Bowl contention to Adrian Peterson posting fantastic numbers after coming back from a devastating knee injury to Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck leading a rookie quarterback class that could become the best in NFL history, the 2012 campaign has been one of unexpected occurrences.
But the last three weeks of this season could see two even more unlikely accomplishments than the aforementioned items.
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What could be more implausible? Try the idea that the New York Jets and the St. Louis Rams have a very good chance of ending this season as playoff teams.
Let's start with New York's road to the playoffs.
Through Week 14, the Jets are a game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals for the last playoff spot in the AFC and will need some help to vault over those teams.
Some good news on this front is that the Bengals and Steelers are slated to play each other in Week 16, and if Pittsburgh loses (and it might, given that it has lost three of its past four games and Cincinnati has been playing quite well of late), it would go a long way toward helping the Jets overcome the tiebreaker edge the black and gold currently have over them as a result of their Week 2 win over New York.
The Steelers also have to face the Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns (who have won three straight, including a win over Pittsburgh). Add that to Cincinnati facing an improving Philadelphia squad in Week 15 and Baltimore in Week 17 (in a game that the Ravens may need to win for playoff-seed positioning), and it doesn't seem like that long of a shot for New York to close a one-game gap with these clubs, as long as the Jets win their last three contests.
Winning three in a row might sound unlikely, as the Jets are only three weeks removed from an embarrassing 49-19 loss to New England and only two weeks from an almost equally embarrassing 7-6 win over the Arizona Cardinals, but they have been playing much better in several areas of late.
The Jets have been run-blocking quite well (ESPNNewYork.com writer Rich Cimini gave them an "A" grade for their showing against the Jacksonville Jaguars this past weekend), and that has led to four straight games with at least 119 yards on the ground.
New York's defense also has held up in coverage, as it ranks third in the league in passing yards per attempt allowed and second in completion percentage allowed.
Those strengths are especially important because they dovetail quite well with the Jets' schedule over the next three weeks.
The Jets start with a road game against a Titans club that has struggled to deal with a slew of offensive line injuries and has gained only 186 yards on the ground, thrown five interceptions and lost three fumbles over the past two weeks. On defense, Tennessee has given up 100 or more rush yards in nine of its 13 games.
After that is a home game against the San Diego Chargers, who will make a cross-country trip with a likely lame duck coach (Norv Turner) and with quarterback Philip Rivers playing some of the worst football of his career. (His 40.1 Total QBR mark is by far his lowest total in that category in the Total QBR era.) The Chargers also have given up 100 or more rushing yards in five of their past seven games.
Last up is a game against a Buffalo squad that has been beset by injury (12 players on injured reserve), that ranks 28th in rush yards allowed and that the Jets have beaten eight of the past nine times they have played (including six straight).
St. Louis' potential playoff path is built somewhat similarly.
The Rams are currently a half-game behind three NFC wild-card contenders (Washington, Dallas and Minnesota) and a game and a half behind two others (Seattle and Chicago) for the two wild-card spots in the conference. That means they have to move ahead of four of those teams.
If St. Louis wins its last three games (against Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Seattle), it would finish with a 9-6-1 record and thus would be ahead of any team with seven losses. Because one of those wins would be against the Vikings, that would give them seven losses (if the Vikings win their other two games) and move St. Louis in front of them.
With the Cowboys and Redskins playing each other in Week 17, one of those teams would be assured of seven losses (assuming that game does not end up in a tie) and place that team behind the Rams in the standings.
At that point, all St. Louis would need is for Seattle and the winner of the Washington-Dallas game to lose one more game or Chicago to lose two. Stranger things certainly have happened, so it isn't out of the question as long as St. Louis can win its three games.
This might seem difficult because the Rams don't have a great offense, but consider that pro-football-reference.com has St. Louis listed with a 5.6 adjusted net yards per attempt mark (a metric that takes sacks and interceptions into passing-game YPA productivity), a total that is actually higher than the mark posted by the Indianapolis Colts. Combining that passing attack with a solid rushing attack (ranked 16th in the NFL in rush yards per game) is the type of offensive formula that could come away with three wins if the defense does its part.
The numbers say this defense definitely can hold its own. The Rams rank tied for second in the league in sacks (39), tied for 13th in interceptions (13) and tied for sixth in passing touchdowns allowed (14). That touchdowns allowed number looks even better when noting the Rams gave up nine of their 14 passing touchdowns in Weeks 6-8, which included contests against Green Bay and New England. Take out that mini-slump, and St. Louis has given up only five touchdown passes in 10 games.
The Rams are also quite stout against the run, having allowed fewer than 100 yards to opposing running backs in nine of their 13 games this year and posting a superb 41.6 percent good blocking rate (GBR) allowed mark. A GBR of 40 percent or less is a benchmark of excellence in this category, and the Rams' showing here offers evidence of just how disruptive their defense can be against opposing ground games.
Add it all up for these two teams, and it could mean this unlikely season has more drama left in its final three weeks.
"I'm glad that the Gillette field was soft and messy
since I spent so much time down on it."-Tom Brady
Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:05 PM
Posted 17 December 2012 - 03:32 PM
Lets see the Jets would either have to play the Ravens,Texans,Broncos,or Patriots depending on how the next two games played out if the stars align and the Jets make it.
Not to mention the game would be at their home stadium and we dont have the offensive line,running game,receiving core,or defense,we had in 09/10. Not to mention the special teams is struggling a long with Mark struggling and scared of making mistakes too.
Really I'm not against the playoffs but I really dont want to see the Jets embarrassed on National television in a wild card game. I know any given Sunday but practically every team winning team with the exception of the Colts early in the season obliterated this team. I see no chance what so ever.
I just see this scenario as a losing situation all around. I never want to root against my team but for one it would hurt the draft spot and next I have a big feeling that if the Jets make the playoffs(regardless of the fact that the Jets had one of the easiest schedules in the NFL statistically at the start of the season)I think it will further hurt the team
Im positive Mark isn't the answer but if the Jets make the playoffs I am positive next year that fans will say "Hey the Jets made the playoffs 3 of 4 years that Mark has been with the team" and then it would surprise me if he got a whole new extended contract with the team.
Sorry to sound so negative but I believe this team needs to rebuild in a lot of areas and I think the playoffs would just make it harder to rebuild.
This is just my take on things. I didn't feel this way in 2009 and 2010 because the team had a great defense and a great running game so the Jets had a chance to win almost every game. I just dont see it this year.
I also understand that a higher draft pick doesn't mean the picked player will pan out but the averages are better. Another thing Im thinking of is if the Jets make the playoffs then with two playoff teams in the division that would entitle a harder schedule next year than it would if just the division winner made it.
Again just my thoughts and take on the subject.