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Sizing Up the AFC Contenders and Their Skeds

Posted by Eric Allen on November 29, 2010 – 12:26 pm

After their post-Thanksgiving mini-bye weekend, the Jets returned to work this morning and began preparations for next Monday’s “Marquee Game of the Year” against the Patriots in Foxboro. We will hit December on Wednesday and that means the playoff race is about to heat up.

While a team with championship aspirations isn’t going to celebrate just securing a spot in the postseason, the Jets look poised to punch their dance ticket soon. They’ve already equaled their win total from last year and five games remain before the regular season concludes on Jan. 2. Rex Ryan wanted the Green & White to lead the NFL in wins and he might get his wish.

There is nothing better than January football, so let’s take a quick look at the Jets, the conference standings and what remains the next five weeks.

1. JETS (9-2)

Critics aren’t impressed that the Jets own just two victories over teams that currently have winning records — New England and Miami. But the Green & White’s next four opponents are all above .500 and they’ve combined to record a 31-13 mark to date.

If the Jets can knock off the Pats, they’ll be the clear favorites to take the division by virtue of a season sweep and 4-0 mark in the AFCE. The Jets are 5-0 away from home and their toughest games, on paper, all appear to be on the road.

Schedule — @New England (Mon., Dec. 6), vs. MIAMI (Dec. 12), @Pittsburgh (Dec. 19), @Chicago (Dec. 26), vs. BUFFALO (Jan. 2).

2. BALTIMORE (8-3)

If the Ravens hold serve in their huge divisional clash Sunday night against the Steelers, they’ll grab a stranglehold over the AFC North. The Birds beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh back in October and they are up one game in the standings. Baltimore, which holds a tiebreaker edge over the Jets because of that 10-9 Week 1 win, is 5-0 at home this year and would like to stay in Maryland throughout the postseason.

The next three games will all be difficult, but the Ravens figure to have a manageable closing two weeks.

Schedule — vs. PITTSBURGH (Dec. 5), @Houston (Mon., Dec. 13), vs. NEW ORLEANS (Dec. 19), @Cleveland (Dec. 26), vs. CINCINNATI (Jan. 2).

3. KANSAS CITY (7-4)

You would never have guessed it before the season, but the Chiefs enter Week 13 as the NFL’s top rushing offense (174.3 yards per game) and the fourth-highest scoring club (25.9 ppg). The Chiefs have been quite the story thus far, but everyone is wondering if they can hold off the hard-charging Chargers.

Schedule — vs. DENVER (Dec. 5), @San Diego (Dec. 12), @St. Louis (Dec. 19), vs. TENNESSEE (Dec. 26), vs. OAKLAND (Jan. 2).

4. JACKSONVILLE (6-5)

Left for dead after back-to-back 25-point losses to the Chargers and Eagles in Weeks 2 and 3, the Jags have legitimate division title hopes. And they’ll win it or lose it on the road because they play all three of their division rivals away from home.

Schedule — @Tennessee (Dec. 5), vs. OAKLAND (Dec. 12), @Indianapolis (Dec. 19), vs. WASHINGTON (Dec. 26), @Houston (Jan. 2).

5. NEW ENGLAND (9-2)

Hard to believe that either the Pats or the Jets will be a wild-card entry, but only one team can win the division and that means one of the powers will have to make a run on the road if they have Super Bowl plans. The Jets and Patriots play the same opponents down the stretch after their meeting, except for the Jets’ visit to Pittsburgh and the Packers’ trip to New England.

Schedule — vs. JETS (Mon., Dec. 6), @Chicago (Dec. 12), vs. GREEN BAY (Dec. 19), @Buffalo (Dec. 26), vs. MIAMI (Jan. 2).

6. PITTSBURGH (8-3)

Huge game for the Steelers Sunday in Baltimore. A win creates a deadlock in the North, but a loss would all but end their division title hopes because it would create a two-game deficit and the Ravens will have swept their rivals. The Steelers’ 22nd-ranked pass defense had better get ready for No. 10’s return in Week 15 because something tells us Santonio Holmes might turn in a special outing.

Mike Tomlin’s club figures to catch a huge break late because it’ll host the Panthers on a Thursday night and then have a nice rest before visiting the Browns to wrap up the regular season.

Schedule — @Baltimore (Dec. 5), vs. CINCINNATI (Dec. 12), vs. JETS (Dec. 19), vs. CAROLINA (Thurs., Dec. 23), @Cleveland (Jan. 2).

LURKING

7. SAN DIEGO (6-5)

The Chargers dismantled the Colts in Indianapolis on Sunday night and they have the looks of a real contender. San Diego ranks No. 1 overall in offense and defense and will probably be favored in all its remaining contests. Once 2-5, it’s not hard to think the Chargers will finish 11-5. Think there are any nervous folks in Kansas City right now?

Schedule — vs. OAKLAND (Dec. 5), vs. KANSAS CITY (Dec. 12), vs. SAN FRANCISCO (Thurs., Dec. 16), @Cincinnati (Dec. 26), @Denver (Jan. 2).

8. INDIANAPOLIS (6-5)

Maybe it’s the rash of injuries. Maybe the Colts have a bit of Super Bowl hangover. Maybe the offensive line struggles and lack of a rush attack have finally grounded Peyton Manning. Perhaps it’s a combination, but this team looked like anything but a contender against the ‘Bolts. Manning, who threw two pick-sixes and has back-to-back three-plus interception games for the first time since his rookie season, needs some magic just to get this team back into the postseason. But the Colts get the Jags at home and nobody in the South has been able to jump all over this opportunity as of yet.

Schedule — vs. DALLAS (Dec. 5), @Tennessee (Thurs., Dec. 9), vs. JACKSONVILLE (Dec. 19), @Oakland (Dec. 26), vs. TENNESSEE (Jan. 2).

9. MIAMI (6-5)

It’s going to be an uphill climb for the Dolphins because they faltered at home early against both the Jets and Patriots. Ten wins might not be enough this season, so Miami might need a clean sweep to get onto the postseason grid.

Schedule — vs. CLEVELAND (Dec. 5), @JETS (Dec. 12), vs. BUFFALO (Dec. 19), vs. DETROIT (Dec. 26), @New England (Jan. 2).

STILL IN THE CONVERSATION

10. HOUSTON (5-6)

11. TENNESSEE (5-6)

12. OAKLAND (5-6)


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Posted in Eric Allen | 26 Comments »


26 Responses to “Sizing Up the AFC Contenders and Their Skeds”

  1. By IRA on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    EA, I think the Jets and Pats each will finish 12-4. So it would appear the winner of this game should win the AFCE. But not so fast. There is plenty of football to be played and we will see.

  2. By Ray on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    Wow did Pittsburgh catch a break yesterday… if you haven’t seen Steve Johnson’s drop in OT. Either Buffalo is alot better these days or teams are just taking them for granted.
    BTW, the Roger Goodell “I’m gonna ruin the game of football in the name of Safety” tour continues. Two horrendous calls in the Jets game and Harrison of the Steelers got flagged again for a textbook clean hit on the QB. At the rate this is progressing, one more year of this and I will be cancelling my NFL Ticket… I’m not paying $400 to watch two hand touch.

  3. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    Actually, Ira, our biggest test is not just NE but afterward. If we lose to NE, PIT, and CHI and squeak into the playoffs at 11-5 with wins over only MIA and BUF, those critics to whom EA refers will have been proven right before the post-season even starts. Which is why I think we’d better start learning right away how to score in the first two quarters, and also why I think the re-signing and bloodletting in the off-season will make last year’s makeover look like a dress rehearsal. After Hard Knocks and all this bragging from Rex, to go 12-4 or 11-5 and then lose in the first or even second round of the playoffs will not sit well with the powers-that-be at Florham Park.

  4. By Pranit on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    Chicago looks dangerous too….Miami is not a lay-up too…We all saw what the Bills did to the Ravens & Pittsburgh yesterday…i am not even talking about NE & Pitt…If the Jets can beat NE then we are talking…(will take a fluky/lucky win this time around)…..

    Have to hit Brady..can’t let him stand still and carve up the secondary….Better hold those TE’s to less than 5 catches or else…Maybe rotate Revis…Have to confuse Brady…And Run the ball on O…run so much that Brady & co spend more time on the benches…

    Don’t play scared Rex…be brave and attack them…

    Go Jets !!!

  5. By IRA on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    Tom,
    That’s why way back in June once the roster was pretty much set i said this year was Dallas or Bust. Anything less would be a huge disappointment. The Chi and Pitt games are going to be tougher than the Pats game.The Jets have NEVER won a game @Pitt and @Chi late Dec is going to be very difficult. Plus the Jets are 0-7 lifetime @ Pitt.
    Thats why they need to start playing complete games and get on a run to show everybody they are the team i think they could be.

  6. By Tom Spicer on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    Looking at the schedules for the above teams at Pats, vs Miami, at Pitt, at Bears & vs Bills. We have the hardest schedule by far 3 divisional games & 3 road games vs the best teams in the NFL. Even if you took out Miami & the Bills & replaced it with the Panthers 2 times at home. I would still say we had the hardest road. at Pats, at Pitt & at Bears it does not get harded than that

  7. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    Ray, I won’t get into partisan — as in Washington — politics, as this site isn’t the place for it. But it occurs to me that with an NFL strike looming, his own insane idea for an 18-game season (Klecko’s against it, said yesterday he’d like to see 16 games AND only 2 exhibs), and forthcoming reports on concussions over the next few years, Goodell is scrambling to keep some politically correct, soccer-loving D.C. bureaucrat from stepping in and trying to police the NFL. That’s gotta be one of the only reasons he’d try to do so much in so little time. P.S. Klecko also says he was against Hard Knocks and thinks Rex talks too much, so nobody tell ME I’m on the wrong side of those issues!

  8. By Tom Spicer on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    scjoe, Accuracy is something that is built up over time by building chemistry with your wideouts each year it will get better. You cant have it when your best WR Holmes is new to the team & misses the first for games of the year it takes a few weeks for that WR to get on the same page as you. Also Cothcery has missed 2 games already mabye more which will hurt him as well. Eli 52% year 2, 57% year 3 & 56% year 4. Bress 57% year 2, Ryan 58% year 2, Big Ben 59% year 2, Orton 51% year 1, 53% year 2 & 58% year 3 & finally Vick 7 years at 56% or under. Are all of these QB’S not accurate or did it take time for them to learn to be accurate on the NFL level?

  9. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    I was never sure if “anything less would be a huge disappointment” was what YOU thought or what you thought the front office thought, Ira. For my part, I’m just happy that we’re highly competitive and we seem to be building the right way. Considering that P Manning’s won a single SB even with all those great years, I’m not gonna get on Sanchez’s case too quickly if he doesn’t win one. But we’re moving in the right direction and I think even if we DID win the SB this year, you’d see some surprising guys let go next year, just like happened when we won it in ’69. We’re just not there yet at several key positions.

  10. By scjoe on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    Mr Spicer, we have to agree to disagree, accuracy is not built up over time, chemistry may be, not accuracy, in most cases you either have it or you don’t! Who the WR is, or how long he has been here shouldn’t effect your accuracy. Make no mistake about it, I want this guy to succeed as much as you or any other Jet fan does, but the black and white picture does not lie. When you are watching his next game take a really close look at his incomplete passes then come back and tell me what you really think.

  11. By scjoe on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    Re: the schedule and the upcoming playoffs, the teams that scare me the most, right now, have to be SD and Balt. As for the regular schedule, they will all be tough, NE, Miami, Pitt, Chicago, and Buffalo. Looking at that schedule makes this upcoming NE game that much more critical. A win, and we are almost assured of the AFC east or at least a WC, a loss, all bets are off. Bottom line, I think 2 more wins will be needed to get in to the tourney.

  12. By 37 year fan on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    I’m going to pull a Broadway Joe on you guys……Ready …Here it is ….THE JETS WIN THE SUPERBOWL I GUARANTEE IT ! !

  13. By 37 year fan on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    We have all the pieces in place ,….NOW , …to make a run at this thing…..The most important piece being ,…..HEART .

  14. By Tom Spicer on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    Let me change the wording of what I was trying to say over time when a QB & his WR’S build there chemistry & there timing the QB’S completion percentage goes up. This is accomplished by knowing how they run there routes & learning there speed. The QB’S that have been with there WR’S for long periods of time like Brady to Welker or Manning to Wayne. You can see them throw the ball to the WR before he even makes his cut. If a QB doesnt have his best WR for 4 games or 1/4 of the season the timing is just not going to be there & it takes time to get it. it could take half the year for you to have your timing down with him.

  15. By Tom Spicer on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    If we can win this game vs the Pats we will basically have a 2 game lead over them with for games to go. We will have a 1 game lead in the standings but since we would have beat them 2 times it will be like having a 2 game lead.

  16. By Mike Jet Vet on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    Ray have no fear of losing to Paties PITT and CHI no way no how don’t care if half the team go’s down this group will not fold trust me maybe one of three worst case 2 but all three nope won’t happen.. Rex must stick to coaching and let someone else do the pre and post game interviews I was watching one the other day seen that look in his eyes said to myself don’t say it Rex please don’t say it well needless to say to late open mouth insert foot is what came to mind .. scjoe last year and 3 games in to this year I agree with you 100% on sanchez but this kid is going to be a good one no doubt in my mind he has shown movement in the pocket all the throws of late very quick release and accuracy on the run he has had some accuracy trouble CONT

  17. By Mike Jet Vet on Nov 29, 2010 | Reply

    CONT. I know I’ve also said many times he over and under throws his receivers way to much but Ive seen so much football flesh in my time, at this juncture in his career even with the mistakes I truly believe in my bones this kid will become as good as any QB in this league sorry Tom 64 in part thanks to the tutelage of Schotty and QB coach I’m going by the way Brees and Rivers developed and either one were close to where this kid is in their respective careers he has that it factor watch and see

  18. By Arte Old School on Nov 30, 2010 | Reply

    Come on folks.. Quit all your whining.. This is a team built for now and the future.. We have key players ( in their 20′s), pro bowl players on ALL sides of the ball.. The key to all of this statistic/history mumbo-jumbo is that this IS a TEAM sport.. Unlike every other game, the NFL is the prize package, because of the parity, the draft, and the reality that anything can happen (well almost) on any given week.. So come on folks.. Don’t listen to ALL these bumbling sportscasters who make a living by making a statement (bold or not).. let’s listen to Rex, let’s look at the facts, and let’s just be THANKFUL that we’re 9-2.. Let’s just sit back and WATCH US WIN & finish this amazing season at our VERY BEST.. See you in Dallas :-)

  19. By Ray on Nov 30, 2010 | Reply

    Scjoe, to put some reality into Spicers numbers, he has skewed them a bit to make his point. First with Brees, yes he was at 57% in year 2, however he was almost 61% in year 1 and never less than 64% after that, so year 2 was an abberation. Kyle Orton was never over 60% until he got to the Broncos so that is more likely a result of a different system than Orton developing chemistry. And with Big Ben? He was almost 63% in year two and never more than a hair below 60% (59.7 yr 3 and 59.9 year 5). Ryan sandwiched 61 and almost 65% around that 58% in year two so did he regress for a year? Bottom line… Mark is erratic at times, but shows the ability and desire to improve. Let’s hope he does…

  20. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Nov 30, 2010 | Reply

    MJV, I was very impressed with what Schotty did with Brees and Rivers, but that was before all this Wildcat stuff got a little out of hand around the league. My objection to Schotty and the Wildcat is not that it overuses Smith but that too much of it — especially at the wrong time, like right after Sanchez has put together his first decent series in a game — seems to keep MS from really getting a rhythm going. But far worse was Schotty’s weird affinity for those awful, 1-yd, WR screens which are mostly good for nothing but pick-6′s. Fortunately, he couldn’t resist the deep threats Holmes and Edwards offer, so now I’m not as much on Schotty’s case as I was last year. Still, Rex needs to learn much more about O to really coach this team.

  21. By paul on Nov 30, 2010 | Reply

    Forget all this nonsense about the Pats schedule after this game and whom will win the division, or home feild advantage in the playoffs. The Jets need to stay focused and start playing “jet football” as Rex likes to say! I personally have seen little of that this year, and after racking up a 9-2 record, can easily forsee them ending the season with four or five losses. As some have already pointed out that Mark Sanchez has been erratic all year, and teams are stacking the box against us, so our run offense has been severly slowed. Our “D” reemerged in the fourth quarter on Thanksgiving, but needs to step up and play four quarters against teams like the Pats, Steelers, and Chicago.Its a long road to the playoffs (not to mention SB)!

  22. By scjoe on Nov 30, 2010 | Reply

    Ray, I agree that in this game you can do just about anything you want with numbers and stats, you can go one way or the other way just by using different players and a different set of stats, that is why I said to Spicer that “the black and white picture does not lie” It is not like I want to see this guy fail, he is the Jets QB, so why would I. Realty is, it is not JUST the inaccuracy issue, his pocket presence needs to improve, reading defenses needs to improve, he needs to stop the panicking in the face of a rush. Sure, he made a couple of good moves in one game to escape the pressure, but I am talking the big picture.The good news is all of those other things CAN and should improve, the inaccuracy issue I am not that sure about.

  23. By Christopher on Nov 30, 2010 | Reply

    Shotty needs to learn to call plays against the opponents weak points and he is just not doing that. Cincy had a banged up secondary and we threw only a handful of passes to WR’s in the first half, why? and it resulted in 3 points. Shotty thinks too much with his play calling instead of attacking weaknesses he tries to “outsmart” the opponent by calling what they do not expect. His playcalling will determine the outcome of this game. We will need to score over 30 points to win. I think we can do it, I know we can, but the playcalling, especially in the first half, has to improve. I hear we are bringing in a kicker, any word on who? Glad to see we are sending a message to Folk.

  24. By Christopher on Nov 30, 2010 | Reply

    Randy, I heard something that I was wondering if you could confirm, has any team that has lost to the NY Jets won a Superbowl in the same year? I heard it has never happened.

  25. By Randy Lange on Nov 30, 2010 | Reply

    Christopher, it has happened once before. In 2001, in the first game after 9/11, the Jets defeated the Patriots at New England, 10-3. That was also Tom Brady’s first extensive action as a QB after Drew Bledsoe was injured in the game. The Pats went on to win Super Bowl XXXVI that season. Including playoff games, in 26 games against the eventual Super Bowl winner, the Jets are 1-25. In 40 games vs. the eventual Super Bowl loser, they are 9-31.

  26. By Christopher on Dec 2, 2010 | Reply

    Good stuff Randy. Darn that Tom Brady, and to think if Mo Lewis doesn knock out Bledsoe, Brady may have never had a chance to start. Its hard for a coach to put his job on the line and start a 7th round draft pick at QB, but when it happens due to injury then sometimes you get lucky, like the Pats did.

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