Sunday Paper (Year 2, Volume LII)
At left are two images that to me represent the similarities between the 2009 and 2010 Jets regular seasons.
Brad Smith returning a kickoff for a touchdown.
But the kickoff return that opened last week's Week 15 game in Pittsburgh and the one that opened the second half of last year's Week 16 game in Indianapolis are only the tip of the iceberg.
Look a little deeper and you'll see a larger pattern where the 2010 Jets mirror the 2009 edition.
The Smith touchdowns are sort of a small-scale view - on a larger scale, last year's run through the playoffs came as a wild card. With a win today over the Bears, the Jets will clinch their spot in the 2010 playoffs...and it will have to be as a wild card, not a division winner.
Last year the Jets suffered a potentially devastating defeat to Atlanta in December only to come back and go on a run right to the AFC Championship Game. (I wrote about this last week but I forgot this link to the article from last year
.) This year, the Jets came back from their potentially devastating December loss(es - to Miami and New England before that) with a big win in Pittsburgh...and a potential playoff run?
The kicking game really hurt the Jets in that Atlanta game in 2009, then Jay Feely was incredibly clutch the rest of the way. Nick Folk has been shaky at best this season, but played well in a tough place to kick in Pittsburgh in 2010. Similarly, after a season full of shaky offensive performances, the offensive line and running game hit their stride last year at the end of the season. This year after starting off pretty strong, there was a bit of a drought from the offense, and things looked like they were clicking in Pittsburgh the same way things seemed to click for the Jets a year ago in January.
Now throw in a Mark Sanchez injury - remember, Sanchez missed a key win late last year. And though he's expected to start against the Bears...the rumors of a possible Mark Brunell start brought to mind Kellen Clemens against Tampa Bay a year ago.
Finally, as I wrote about last week, that win over Pittsburgh felt a whole lot like the playoffs. A good, solid, important win that had you nervous throughout. The Jets kept us on the edge of our seats when they beat Cincinnati and San Diego on the road in the playoffs - they've certainly kept us on edge this year.
Last year the Jets blew out the Bengals when they had the chance to win their way into the playoffs. We'll see what happens today.
And I'm hoping there's one difference between 2009 and 2010 - I hope this year's squad ends up taking it a step further than last year and wins the Super Bowl.
*I hit some of my pre-season NFL picks, I missed a lot...but one thing that I want to bring your attention to is one of my upset picks. I wrote about it, but didn't put my money where my mouth was because I only had the team finishing at 7-9. But with a win today the Kansas City Chiefs will go to 7-0 at home, and prove me right in my gun-to-head pre-season analysis
*My Kansas City upset pick fits Fox Sports' Peter Schrager's sleeper pick criteria...but kudos to him for a great run with his Oakland Raiders upset pick
. They're 7-7, not dead in Week 16 - that's a heck of a pick right there.
*I'm calling an official end to my NFC South trend this weekend. Monday night, Saints at Falcons...I'm taking the home team. Falcons win and cover the 2-and-a-half points...and put an exclamation point on the end of a trend.
*Thanks to my wife I got an iPhone for Christmas. Endless possibilities for constant twitter updates and maybe even blog postings
*I found out about this site on twitter this week, and I've become kind of addicted. I'll go back and read a different entry every so often...so far all I've read has been really, really funny. It's called hyperboleandahalf. I'll start you on this - The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas
- and you can follow the same path of addiction I've been on.
*If you celebrate Christmas, I hope yours was as great as mine. I live for seeing my daughters happy...and I've never seen them happier than this Christmas. What a great day. With 2010 winding down and 2011 about to start I'm excited for a new year on the blog - we'll have a year-ender at the end of the week