His team may be 3-3, but head coach Rex Ryan expects his injury-riddled team to go toe-to-toe with the Patriots.
The Jets are without their biggest playmakers on offense and defense as cornerback Darrelle Revis and wide receiver Santonio Holmes are out for the season. But somehow, they’re hanging around in the AFC East. All four teams in the division hold a 3-3 record, but the Jets are the only team with a 2-0 mark in the division.
“It’s good news, bad news. Let’s face it, we’re tied for first in our division,” Ryan said. “We’re also tied for last, which is depressing. It’s going to be a slugfest all the way and really it’s a 10-game season now. Whoever comes out of it the best wins our division. We’re going to keep slugging.”
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Ryan said the Patriots, who have won eight of the last 10 divisional titles, are the class of the division. The Jets, on the other hand, have only won the AFC East twice — most recently in 2002 — and the Patriots have won every year since Ryan became head coach in 2009.
“I never stopped not thinking about them. That’s the team you got to beat to win our division. Obviously Buffalo and Miami are improved, not taking anything anyway from them,” Ryan said. “The team that’s won our division since I’ve been the head coach here has always been New England. That’s the one you have to beat for sure. You think about them, you build your roster sometimes trying to compete, trying to beat this team. You’re always thinking about them.”
The game against their I-95 opponent always brings out the best from the Jets, both on the field and in the trash talking leading up to the game. But the Jets know that they can give their mediocre start to the season a jolt with a big road win.
“For us to get to where we want to get to, or anyone in our conference, you have to beat New England,” Ryan said.
For Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, the game is more important that the opponent.
“Of course, the division games are, we all know, those are ultimately the most important games, although every game is important, but those games count a little bit more. I’m sure everybody understands that and we’ll talk about it a little bit but we all know the importance of division games, no question about it. But again, it’s a long season. We go through the same thing 15 [other] weeks. We’ve had big wins, we’ve had tough losses unfortunately, but that’s all part of turning the page and moving onto the next opponent and dealing with a new challenge,” Belichick said. “Certainly the Jets are a big one this week but we face big ones every week and we'll just to go through that process and try to get our team and our performance level to the highest point we can on Sunday.”
Gang Green notes
» Running backs Bilal Powell (shoulder) and Joe McKnight (ankle) will each have an MRI on Monday and the Jets will release the information on Wednesday.
» Quarterback Mark Sanchez threw for just 82 yards on Sunday in the Jets win over the Colts, the first time in his NFL career that he has thrown for under 100 yards and won.
» Running back Shonn Greene ran for a career high 161 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, accumulating more yards against the Colts than he did in the prior four games combined.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.