Playoff Primer: New York Jets

New York got the better of the Colts in a controversial Week 16 showdown. Will they have the same success if the two teams meet again? Brad Keller takes a closer look at the Jets.

How They Got Here:

After a Week 15 loss to the Falcons, New York's season seemed to be lost, to the point where head coach Rex Ryan thought his team was not going to make the playoffs. They did, after all, need to make it past the undefeated Colts and playoff bound Bengals in successive weeks, so their prospects seemed bleak at best.

As some of you may have heard, New York rallied to beat the Indianapolis reserves 29-15 in Week 16 and proceeded to crush Cincinnati 37-0 in the final game of the regular season on Sunday night to punch their ticket to the postseason. 

Like the Ravens, they finished with a point differential that was better than their record would imply (plus-112) and was also better than the point differential for the 14-2 Indianapolis Colts (plus-109).  Unlike Baltimore, the fifth-seeded Jets fared well against other playoff teams, with a 3-2 record, though the last two weeks of the season helped that total significantly.

The interesting thing about New York is that they have only played five games against playoff teams and two of those games were against New England, who won the AFC East.  Therefore, they do not have a great deal of experience against the highest level of competition, but they have been successful against that competition, so maybe too much exposure is bad for a team's health (and record, as Baltimore went 1-6 against playoff teams).

Can they go from a lost season to a Super Bowl?  The fifth seeded Giants won it all following the 2007 season and the sixth seeded Steelers won it all in 2005, so anything is possible.

Where They Rank:

Offense:

17th in points scored per game (21.8), 20th in yards gained per game (321.0), 31st in passing yards per game (148.8), and first in rushing yards per game (172.2).

Defense:

First in points allowed per game (14.8), first in yards allowed per game (252.3), first in passing yards allowed per game (153.7), and eighth in yards rushing allowed per game (98.6).

How They Could Meet the Colts:

They would need to beat the same Bengals team they just crushed on Saturday night and the Ravens would need to lose to the Patriots on Sunday afternoon.  The game against the Bengals is in Cincinnati, not New York and it officially means something to the Bengals, so that makes a difference.

But, the Jets have to believe that they can have success doing the same things they did against Cincinnati in Week 17 and will not be daunted by the playoff pressure for the Wild Card round.

Since the Patriots are 8-0 at home this season and Tom Brady is 13-3 in the playoffs for his career, New England could very well beat Baltimore and the Colts would face the winner of the Jets-Bengals game, since it is impossible for the first seed to face the third seed in the Divisional round.

Strengths:

The oppressively outstanding strength of this team is their defense, which held the Cincinnati starters to 17 total yards and one first down through the first three quarters on Sunday night before Marvin Lewis pulled his starters.

They rank number one in every category in the NFL except for rushing defense, where they rank a very respectable eighth.  Pro Bowl cornerback and potential Defensive Player of the Year Darrelle Revis perennially shuts down one side of the field and allows the Jets coaches to focus their attention on other matters.  That would neutralize Reggie Wayne and give New York the ability to double cover Dallas Clark without sacrificing anyone to cover Pierre Garcon

With Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene, and even Brad Smith, the Jets have on of the most diverse running games in the league and they have been more successful than any other team thus far this season.  The fact that they have been able to lead the league in rushing despite not being able to move the ball through the air makes their accomplishments on offense even more impressive.

Defenses know the Jets can't throw the ball and still they are able to run.  They have two Pro Bowl offensive linemen in Alan Faneca and Nick Mangold and a strong case could be made that left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson should be an alternate on the Pro Bowl team. 

They are a solid team in the trenches and tremendous on defense.  If defense wins championships and the running game is the most important thing in January, then the Jets should dominate the Colts.

Weaknesses:

There is no avoiding the fact that New York has struggled in the passing game all season with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.  It is true that defense wins championships — the Steelers had the first ranked scoring defense, overall defense, and passing defense when they won it all last season — but it is also true that clutch quarterback play makes the difference when the margin for error decreases and the stakes are raised in the postseason.

Matt Ryan lost in the Wild Card round as a rookie last season, but fellow rookie Joe Flacco was able to make it past the Divisional round in the AFC bracket, so it is possible that the Jets can overcome Sanchez's inexperience.  They will need to insulate Sanchez and put him in a position to succeed, making sure that their running game is running on all cylinders and their defense is affording them superior field position.

In addition, the passing game has been ineffective because wide receivers Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards are not in the upper echelon of their position.   They are talented players but are not at the level where they can bail out their young quarterback if he needs some serious assistance.  They have struggled in part because of the limited experience of Sanchez, but also because they do not have the kind of talent at receiver necessary to be a top passing team.

Ultimately, the Jets will need to lean on their defense and their running game to keep the game close, make the plays that they need to make, and advance in spite of the superior talent and experience that exists at the quarterback and receiver position in this bracket.


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After a Week 15 loss to the Falcons, New York's season seemed to be lost, to the point where head coach Rex Ryan thought his team was not going to make the playoffs. They did, after all, need to make it past the undefeated Colts and playoff bound Bengals in successive weeks, so their prospects seemed bleak at best.

As some of you may have heard, New York rallied to beat the Indianapolis reserves 29-15 in Week 16 and proceeded to crush Cincinnati 37-0 in the final game of the regular season on Sunday night to punch their ticket to the postseason. 

Like the Ravens, they finished with a point differential that was better than their record would imply (plus-112) and was also better than the point differential for the 14-2 Indianapolis Colts (plus-109).  Unlike Baltimore, the fifth-seeded Jets fared well against other playoff teams, with a 3-2 record, though the last two weeks of the season helped that total significantly.

The interesting thing about New York is that they have only played five games against playoff teams and two of those games were against New England, who won the AFC East.  Therefore, they do not have a great deal of experience against the highest level of competition, but they have been successful against that competition, so maybe too much exposure is bad for a team's health (and record, as Baltimore went 1-6 against playoff teams).

Can they go from a lost season to a Super Bowl?  The fifth seeded Giants won it all following the 2007 season and the sixth seeded Steelers won it all in 2005, so anything is possible.

17th in points scored per game (21.8), 20th in yards gained per game (321.0), 31st in passing yards per game (148.8), and first in rushing yards per game (172.2).

First in points allowed per game (14.8), first in yards allowed per game (252.3), first in passing yards allowed per game (153.7), and eighth in yards rushing allowed per game (98.6).

They would need to beat the same Bengals team they just crushed on Saturday night and the Ravens would need to lose to the Patriots on Sunday afternoon.  The game against the Bengals is in Cincinnati, not New York and it officially means something to the Bengals, so that makes a difference.

But, the Jets have to believe that they can have success doing the same things they did against Cincinnati in Week 17 and will not be daunted by the playoff pressure for the Wild Card round.

Since the Patriots are 8-0 at home this season and Tom Brady is 13-3 in the playoffs for his career, New England could very well beat Baltimore and the Colts would face the winner of the Jets-Bengals game, since it is impossible for the first seed to face the third seed in the Divisional round.

The oppressively outstanding strength of this team is their defense, which held the Cincinnati starters to 17 total yards and one first down through the first three quarters on Sunday night before Marvin Lewis pulled his starters.

They rank number one in every category in the NFL except for rushing defense, where they rank a very respectable eighth.  Pro Bowl cornerback and potential Defensive Player of the Year Darrelle Revis perennially shuts down one side of the field and allows the Jets coaches to focus their attention on other matters.  That would neutralize Reggie Wayne and give New York the ability to double cover Dallas Clark without sacrificing anyone to cover Pierre Garcon

With Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene, and even Brad Smith, the Jets have on of the most diverse running games in the league and they have been more successful than any other team thus far this season.  The fact that they have been able to lead the league in rushing despite not being able to move the ball through the air makes their accomplishments on offense even more impressive.

Defenses know the Jets can't throw the ball and still they are able to run.  They have two Pro Bowl offensive linemen in Alan Faneca and Nick Mangold and a strong case could be made that left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson should be an alternate on the Pro Bowl team. 

They are a solid team in the trenches and tremendous on defense.  If defense wins championships and the running game is the most important thing in January, then the Jets should dominate the Colts.

There is no avoiding the fact that New York has struggled in the passing game all season with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.  It is true that defense wins championships — the Steelers had the first ranked scoring defense, overall defense, and passing defense when they won it all last season — but it is also true that clutch quarterback play makes the difference when the margin for error decreases and the stakes are raised in the postseason.

Matt Ryan lost in the Wild Card round as a rookie last season, but fellow rookie Joe Flacco was able to make it past the Divisional round in the AFC bracket, so it is possible that the Jets can overcome Sanchez's inexperience.  They will need to insulate Sanchez and put him in a position to succeed, making sure that their running game is running on all cylinders and their defense is affording them superior field position.

In addition, the passing game has been ineffective because wide receivers Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards are not in the upper echelon of their position.   They are talented players but are not at the level where they can bail out their young quarterback if he needs some serious assistance.  They have struggled in part because of the limited experience of Sanchez, but also because they do not have the kind of talent at receiver necessary to be a top passing team.

Ultimately, the Jets will need to lean on their defense and their running game to keep the game close, make the plays that they need to make, and advance in spite of the superior talent and experience that exists at the quarterback and receiver position in this bracket.

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