200 Miles From the Citi

November 22, 2010 9:38 PM

Can't Win For Losing


At the beginning of the season I picked the Jets to go 13-3.

I know some people think preseason picks are an exercise in futility.  But I love making them.

But that's besides the point.

The point is, I had the Jets winning ten of their first eleven games, then dropping a couple down the stretch.

And I'm afraid they still have a couple of losses in them.

I would love it if the Jets go 14-2.  But I just don't see it happening.  I'm not sure I see anyone going 14-2 this year.

But especially the Jets.  My pre-season picks included a split with the Patriots (which means I wouldn't be shocked if the Jets lost to New England in two weeks), and a loss to the Bears in Week 16.  The Jets still have the Steelers in Pittsburgh, the Bills and Dolphins - anything can happen within the division - and the Bengals.  (Hahahaha, they won't lose to the Bengals.)

So let's assume the Jets finish 12-4 - still a pretty great season, but if they lose any game in these final six weeks, they'll be scrutinized and criticized.  All of their shortcomings this season will be put under a microscope.

And here's the other problem - 12-4 might not even be enough to earn the Jets a first-round bye.  Here's what the Patriots have left:

at Detroit, vs. NYJ, at Chicago, vs. Green Bay, at Buffalo, and vs. Miami  (Tough draw for Miami coming to the Northeast twice in the season's final four weeks.)

It's impossible to say how that all shakes out - but it's a very real possibility that the Patriots and Jets finish tied atop the AFC East.

And as long as they tie, the Jets are as good as a game ahead by virtue of their win over Cleveland and New England's loss to same.  (And that's if the Jets split with the Pats - if the Jets sweep the season series, that might just clinch them the division.)

But let's just say the Jets lose only to the Steelers and the Pats, and the Patriots end up taking the tiebreakers.  That takes a tremendously successful season and makes the road to the Super Bowl so much more difficult with a first-round playoff game.

It's all hypothetical at this point, but it's also all possible.  Any Jets loss will throw their season into disarray.

It is a long, hard haul to get to a Super Bowl.

An 8-2 start looks really good right now.

But the Jets know, especially coming off last year - it's not how you start.

It's how you finish.

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