Thanks to Rex Ryan, I'm super-confident about the Jets this weekend. I have a new mindset.
Until I see the Ravens lose to the Colts, I'm even going to believe the Jets will be hosting the AFC Championship Game, that's how confident I am right now.
But I'm a Jets fan. So there's some doubt involved when it comes to the matchup with Philip Rivers and the Chargers.
And I've narrowed the doubt down to 5 things that could really ruin my 3-day weekend.
1 - The Dumb Play
In San Diego, in January of 2005, the Jets were all set to beat the Chargers in regulation when, on fourth down, Eric Barton roughed Drew Brees, giving the Chargers a bonus set of downs. They tied the game, but the Jets went on to win...only after Nate Kaeding got the yips. Maybe that's why this is on my mind.
This year, the Jets have had their share of dumb plays. Kris Jenkins being drawn/jumping off sides on fourth down against the Saints. Haven't commented on this very much since the Jets won the game, but Bart Scott tripping Donald Brown in the Colts game on a fourth down was a huge momentum-killer.
It's always in the back of my mind as a potential season-destroyer. This year it's more towards the front.
2 - The Kicking Game
Again, Nate Kaeding brings this to mind. And....dare I friggin' say his name....Doug Brien, the last time the Jets made a playoff run to this round.
Last week Jay Feely was a hero. He kicked an important field goal, and he stepped in to do the punting duties. But even when the kicking game performed well the kicking game didn't perform well. Right after the half, with the Jets still only up a touchdown, penalties by the special teams turned a 42-yard field goal try into a 52-yard field goal try...and then a 57-yard non-try, instead, a punt.
I fear something worse this week...like Jay Feely pulling a Doug Brien.
3 - The Return of the Rookie
Mark Sanchez has been really great the past few weeks....a little too great? It's like he's been studying Chad Pennington game-management tapes.
I believe in Sanchez, I really, really do. But he's still in his first professional year. What he is doing is uncommon. Not very many rookie quarterbacks win a playoff game, let alone two. I would not blame him if he came out and played like a rookie this weekend. San Diego is a team that hasn't given up very many points during their hot streak.
Sanchez is going to have to keep playing like a veteran. I'm afraid he'll play like a rookie.
4 - Antonio Gates = Wes Welker
All right, Antonio Gates is nothing like Wes Welker. Except that I fear he'll have a humongous game against the Jets' defense.
Remember how Darrelle Revis was all over Randy Moss, but Welker torched the Jets in New York's matchup in New England? Well, I imagine Revis' job on Sunday will be to shut down Vincent Jackson (though I almost feel like it's a waste to put Revis on Jackson...not a fan). Well, if Welker was able to get open underneath, I have to believe that Gates will be able to as well...and then I fear the Jets' defense will not be able to bring him down.
Gates is back in top form...but he hasn't historically played well in the playoffs. Except against the Jets in 2005.
5 - Braylon Edward (Get it? I 'dropped' the s.)
These drops are going to catch up to the Jets. I fear on Sunday he'll leave his feet for a potential huge play....and come down with nothing. Or Shonn Greene will fumble.
I fear these things because they are signs of an imperfect team. And the Jets will need to be pretty much perfect this Sunday to have an opportunity to be perfect again the next week.