Sunday, December 11, 2011
Week 14-No Room For Error
I began to think this week that it's possible to qualify for the 2011 postseason without having a significant victory over a good team. Perhaps the best team they've beat all season is the Dallas Cowboys, who are as inconsistent as any team in the league. The Jets picked up a 34-19 victory over Washington last week by, once again, struggling to move the ball all day before putting together 21 points in the last 4:49 to come from behind for victory. Shonn Greene ran for 88 yards and 3 TD, although the last one should have been a kneel down, as Greene proved that he still doesn't really understand situational football.
We are four games from the conclusion of the regular season. The Jets last four opponents are Kansas City, at Philadelphia, New York Giants, and at Miami. The experts will have you believe that the Jets schedule leads to the easiest route to the final wild card in the AFC, but, when your team is inconsistent, there are no easy roads. The Jets haven't provided me with any indication that they will control the Chiefs today and provide a dominant win. Wherever the 2011 Jets wind up, it will be a struggle to get there.
Today, Kansas City pays a visit to MetLife Stadium with a 5-7 record and an inconsistent backup QB in Tyler Palko. The Chiefs lost their best offensive player (Jamaal Charles) and their best defensive player (Eric Berry) early in the season, and their grit is admirable considering how they've battled all season despite being undermanned. Their front seven is legit and it will be difficult to score against them using long drives.
The Jets secondary must take advantage of the opportunities they get (and they WILL get opportunities) to force turnovers. Tyler Palko has thrown 6 picks in 102 attempts, and looks lost against most defenses. The way the Jets mix coverages, I don't expect for the picture to suddenly clear up for the young QB. Kansas City should struggle to score against the Jets defense unless the offense coughs up multiple turnovers.
I expect the Jets to apply a conservative approach offensively, using the run to win time of possession, and keeping Sanchez on schedule to keep him out of difficult second and third and long. Sanchez won last week by avoiding mistakes. Even though he went through a stretch of the game where he completed about 3 out of 15 throws, he kept his head and avoided the big mistake. When Sanchez avoids the big mistake, the Jets are able to stay in the game against virtually everyone. But...when Sanchez has a big turnover, the offense isn't prolific enough to overcome it.
Rex Ryan seems pleased with the way his team has reacted to this very winnable stretch of games. The way things are breaking for the Jets, they will need to win all four of these games to get into the playoffs. If the Jets can handle their business today, they will be able to head to Philadelphia believing that they can continue the winning all the way to the postseason. A loss to the Chiefs, however, will effectively end the Jets hopes for the postseason. The Jets can ill afford another loss, much less another conference loss.
Kickoff from MetLife stadium is at 1 pm.