The New York Jets are playing meaningful football in December. Looks like Santa has come early for fans of the team this year.
This Sunday (1 p.m. kickoff, CBS), the Jets would take a huge step forward in their push for the playoffs with a win over the New England Patriots, a win that would not only would keep their playoff hopes alive but would be big for the team psyche. The Patriots, after all, are the class of the division and beating the reigning Super Bowl champions means something.
It is also the Jets biggest rival in recent years, a win that would resonate with the fanbase.
Three Things to Watch from the Jets in Week 16:
Continuing with the Firsts - The Jets next win would give them No. 10, just the second time since 2007 that they would have double-digit wins in a season. And a win on Sunday would be a big step towards the post-season, which would be a first for the Jets since 2010. Even if the Jets don't make the postseason, a double-digit win season and a victory over the Patriots would be a tremendous boost for the franchise. It would, in many ways, validate the rebuilding job done by a first-year head coach and a first-year general manager. Oh, and a win over the Patriots would be the Jets first since Oct. 20, 2013.
Oh, oh, a Jets win on Sunday would be their first over a team currently with a winning record this season. A lot of firsts in play here.
The Trim-magic – It is well-established in these pages that in the four games since he trimmed his Civil War era beard, that Ryan Fitzpatrick has been nothing short of a Greek god. During this stretch, all Jets wins, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 1,229 yards with 10 touchdowns and one interception (that lone pick came last week).
"Yeah, he’s playing really well, no question about it. Spreading the ball around, making plays, he’s had some great scramble plays, converted third downs, things like that. He’s doing very well. They’re well balanced offensively. They can run it," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "They can throw it, have a lot of different targets, like I said, Powell has really helped them, receivers do a good job, quarterback does a good job. It’s a good offensive football team, good defensive team, good in the kicking game, so this will be a big challenge for us all the way across the board."
Rested Patriots – It will be interesting to see if the banged-up Patriots, who have already clinched the division, will rest some of their veterans rather than risk injury or more dings to their depth. They have depth concerns in the secondary with injuries to Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung and their offensive line is a wreck. If they decided to rest some players, the Jets could be in a prime spot to get a win. Especially with their wide receivers going up against a thin Patriots backend. This could be a major advantage for the Jets.