The stated objective of the NY Jets for 2022 was for the franchise to play meaningful games at the end of the season. It's something that Jets GM Joe Douglas talked about openly. As modest of a goal as that may seem, it has eluded the Jets for several years.
The NFL team with the longest current playoff drought often saw their hopes wash away before the leaves touched the ground in the fall.
For years on end, the Jets have played meaningless football in the months of November and December. Quite frankly, Jets seasons were dead on arrival in the opening month of every new campaign.
This time of the year for Jets followers has often been reserved for discussions about draft positioning and the next year's free-agent and college draft classes.
The oddsmakers had the Jets' as a five-win team before the season started. Pundits saw what looked like a daunting schedule for New York and had a challenging time seeing the team win many games. Some people like Brady Quinn doubted that the team would win any games.
Outside of the magical and psychic coin-flipping prophecy of Twitter user 'noonernation,' most loyal and patient Jets fans predicted modest results. Nine, eight, or even seven wins was seen as a decent step forward in 2022. They hoped that the Jets would be respectable this year, and finally show some progress in the win column.
But thanks to a 6-3 start before their bye week, the Jets are not only set up to play meaningful games in the final months of their season, but they are legitimate contenders for a playoff spot and maybe even an AFC East division title.
As a result, the measuring stick and expectation level for 2022 has changed for the Jets.
The NY Jets have set their expectation bar high this season
We have approached the time of the year when people are supposed to be thankful, and lord knows that Jets fans are appreciative of their team's current standing, especially after years of nothingness and torment. However, as it pertains to the current Jets season, there's reason to dream even bigger.
The "why not us?" mantra used by sports teams has been very popular. The Cincinnati Bengals rode that rallying cry all the way to the Super Bowl last season. The Jets might not be ready to get that far.
A lot of it depends on the quality of their young quarterback's play, but the team is in a prime position to cash in on their earned status in the second half of the season.
Realistically, it will probably take 10 wins to guarantee a spot in the AFC playoffs. The Jets will need to go 4-4 in their last eight games to accomplish that. However, it won't be an easy task.
Theoretically, nine wins could do the trick, but all bets are off when it comes to the uncertainty of tiebreakers.
Before the 2022 season started, many prognosticators foresaw a scenario where every team in the AFC West would make the playoffs. As it turns out, the AFC East might pull off that unprecedented feat. At the very least, it's increasingly possible that three AFC East teams will make the playoffs when the smoke clears in early January.
The Jets are 2-1 in their division with wins over Buffalo and Miami at home, but they will have to meet those teams in their buildings the next time out. And then there's the New England Patriots, who beat the Jets two weeks ago at MetLife Stadium.
The 5-4 Patriots will see the Jets at home coming off the bye in what is a crucial game for Gang Green. New England has the psychological advantage over New York until proven otherwise.
The non-believers of the Jets' 6-3 start could present an argument that the team's success is fool's gold.
For a change, things broke right for the Jets during the first half of the season. On paper, trips to Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Denver, and Cleveland seemed highly daunting, but somehow, the Jets went 4-0 under those circumstances.
Green Bay and Pittsburgh have not been your older brother's Packers and Steelers. That's for sure.
Sometimes in the NFL, it's not just about who you play but when you play them. As it turns out, the Jets caught the Packers, Steelers, Broncos, and Browns at the right time. You could argue the same thing in New York's triumph over Miami and Skylar Thompson.
The Jets' undefeated record on the road (4-0) will be tested in the second half of their season. They not only have to face New England but also have trips to Minnesota, Buffalo, Seattle, and Miami — five legitimate playoff contenders.
The Jets only play three of their last eight regular-season games at home — Chicago, Detroit, and Jacksonville. In order for the Jets to still be in playoff contention by Christmas Day, they must win those games at the bare minimum.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh and his players have said they expected to be in his position all along — that no one in the locker room is surprised that the team is winning.
The receipts keep coming in, and superstar cornerback Sauce Gardner is living up to his promise on the field and off to super fans like Johnny, who is living the good life on weekly ice cream. Many wins have come the Jets' way already. Can they get four or five more?
The Jets will continue to have doubters for the remainder of this season. People expect the team to fall apart and fade away eventually. That sentiment is not going to change until proven otherwise, but what if this season is the start of a new era of winning football for the New York Jets?
It may very well be if the Jets find a way to keep their newfound winning ways going.