The bye week is over and the Jets return to work today. Things broke nicely for them with playoff contenders like Tennessee, San Diego and Buffalo all losing. Now we get to see if the Jets are legitimate playoff contenders or a nice 1st half story of a rebuilding team overachieving. That starts with their biggest game to date at Buffalo.
Why is it their biggest game? Because we need to see if this team can win two games in a row. Can they handle prosperity? With the positive headlines rolling in can they maintain focus? Can they win against a division rival on the road? Will Geno Smith play as well against Buffalo as he did the 1st time? Which coach will win the battle of adjustments? What will the team play like with raised expectations from fans and media?
If the Jets can get to 6-4 and win their second game in a row that will take a large monkey off of their back. They’ll see some consistency and build some confidence. The longer the team hangs around in the playoff race the more confident they will be and the better they will play. With getting Holmes, Winslow and Cumberland back the offense should be more dynamic but they cannot forget the running game with Ivory and Powell. Defensively they have to stop the run, make Buffalo one-dimensional and make E J Manuel beat them through the air. Manuel will be better his 2nd game back from injury but the Jets need to pressure him and force turnovers.
If the Jets lose and fall back to 5-5 it will validate the fears that most Jets fans have because the team has lost games like this frequently over the years, these games that good teams win on the road against a division opponent when you are the better team. The Jets have played down to their opponents too often and the coaching staff and team leaders need to make sure that a letdown does not happen. If they lose they will still be in the playoff race but it will bring them back to the pack and reinforce the notion that they are too young and inconsistent to make a run.
So while a win or a loss will not completely determine the fate of the season it will go a ways in telling us more about this team’s immediate future. The development of these young players is still paramount but if you can teach them the value of each game and get them battle hardened with some playoff experience all the better. We’ll know by 4:30Pm on Sunday.