The New York Jets were very close last season in making the NFL Playoffs as wide receiver Eric Decker believes this time around, the AFC East is up for grabs thanks to a certain suspension.
Although the Jets don’t play the New England Patriots during the first four games of the 2016 season, Decker still believes that the suspension means that the division is “up for grabs”.
“You gotta win your division games. With Brady being suspended four games, I think it makes the division up for grabs,” Decker said this week on NFL Network’s “Total Access” program from the league’s annual Broadcast Bootcamp.
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It’s a point of discussion that was brought up last season when it looked as if Brady would serve this suspension during the 2015 season.
Everyone knows that Brady avoided it then but it looks less likely that he’ll be able to avoid it again.
When Rex Ryan was the head coach of the Jets, he comically brought up that other teams have to step up to beat the Patriots.
That is exactly what the Jets have to count on for this division to truly be up for grabs.
The ideology is that the Patriots could come out of the gates 1-3 during the suspension while potentially giving the other three teams in the division a head start before Brady returns. Taking another look at who the Patriots will have to face during the first quarter of the 2016 season:
Week 1 at Arizona
Week 2 at home Miami
Week 3 at home Houston
Week 4 at home Buffalo
The Patriots have a three week home stand, two division games and a potential pitfall to dig themselves out of. Arizona was in the NFC Conference title game last season, Miami and Buffalo will be extra motivated to win these games with no Brady and finally, a Houston team that is on the rise after a huge offseason will be a tough out.
Right now as much as what Decker says rings true, the Jets quarterback situation remains a serious question mark. So before Jets fans start planning on how they’ll spend their winnings with an AFC East division title, they need to figure this quarterback thing out.
How close are the @nyjets from making the playoffs again?
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) May 18, 2016
While some fans debate whether this team can be considered in “win-now mode”. The Jets aren’t a rebuilding team, they’ve got a host of veterans including Decker who are ready to win.
The Jets are in a precarious position hovering between contention and survival. Football Outsiders projects that the Jets will go 6-10 this year and 7-9 if Fitzpatrick comes back.
Despite his outrageous contract demands, Fitzpatrick is worth more to the Jets than one win next season. Without him, the Jets are entering uncharted waters and any predictions for the division in 2016 will be just that.