It was another tough loss on Sunday for the NY Jets as lightning was not able to strike twice in a contest against Buffalo. The Bills are now 10-3 and the top team in the AFC, as the Jets fell to a seemingly distant 7-6 and are now on the wrong end of two straight losses — the first consecutive losses of the season.
It's easy to get dejected and feel sad. "Where did we go wrong?," "We were 7-4," "All seemed to be right when we were 6-3 heading into the bye," "Should we put Zach Wilson back in?," "Streveler?," I've seen it all.
For those of us keeping receipts, the season is far from over and the Jets are still very much alive in the playoff race. For example, if the Jets simply beat the Lions this week and the Bills beat the Dolphins, the Jets replace them in the Wild Card and earn that berth due to their tiebreaker over them.
And sure, we can go through all of the different playoff scenarios, but there are articles for that. This article is to call back a comparison between the Jets and the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals.
How the NY Jets continue to mirror the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals
Year 1 with a new head coach: four wins. We know that in the Bengals' Year 2 with their head coach they made it all the way to the Super Bowl and defeated the dynastic Kansas City Chiefs to get there.
This year, they've picked up where they've left off and are surging as they've won five straight and look to regain the AFC North title that they won last year.
So, what was the Bengals' record after Week 14 last year? 7-6. Same as the Jets. After the Bengals went into their Week 10 bye 5-4, they won two games pretty decisively before losing by 19 to the Chargers and an overtime thriller to the 49ers to fall to 7-6.
The Jets entered their Week 10 bye 6-3 but unfortunately dropped three of four, with a decisive win against the Bears in there to make them 7-6. From 7-6, the Bengals when 3-1 to win their division at 10-7. The Jets won't be able to win their division at 10-7, but finishing 3-1 is very doable.
Of course, there are a few differences — starting with the talent at the quarterback position. Joe Burrow was performing at a high level during that 3-1 stretch, including one game with 525 yards and another with 446. At the most important position in football, the Jets are still figuring it out.
Mike White has performed admirably, but in his six career starts he has left two of them early with injuries. That is an alarmingly high 33.3% injury rate on his starts, which doesn't include the time he stayed down for extra rest in the Vikings game after this hit.
His lack of mobility is a serious problem for an offensive line that is down to their fifth option at tackle and without their best interior lineman (Alijah Vera-Tucker) for the rest of the year. Zach Wilson, to put it nicely, hasn't been nearly as effective or efficient as a passer at any point in his career.
The great news is that the defense should still be pretty much intact to finish out the year. Unlike the Bengals, the Jets' identity is built through their defense, which has still been performing at a high level despite this sudden dearth of takeaways.
All four of these upcoming offenses (Lions, Jaguars, Seahawks, Dolphins) are very comfortable airing the ball out, which will open up opportunities for interceptions.
With a pass rush as good as any in the NFL, we'll see if the Jets can force any strip sacks down the stretch, because if they are going to go 3-1, they will need the defensive equivalent of a 526-yard passing game or two.
The key thing to remember is that the season is still very much alive. The reigning AFC champions were in this exact scenario last year when they went 3-1 and got hot during the playoffs for a crazy run. If you ask Saleh, they're on pace to do the exact same thing, maybe even more.
After what you've seen from this team and their fight all year, are you really going to doubt Saleh? The man has been cashing receipts all year and his team has had faith in each other which has resulted in concrete results.
You can have your doubts and question the future after these recent losses but I assure you no one at One Jets Drive is in doubt — all gas no brakes to the playoffs, here we come!