Then there's all the emotional stuff. They're playing for respect. If they win they'll be the first team to make the playoffs after a one-win season. Imagine how you'll tell that one to your kids 20 years from now: "...Worst team in the league ... And what turned 'em around? A rookie coach, a pothead running back, a washed-up quarterback with a gimpy arm and a running formation nobody had seen in ages..."
And there's the
For the Jets, it's trickier. Playoff-wise, if they win, they still need a New England loss in Orchard Park to take the division or a Ravens loss at home to secure the wild card. If they lose, they're toast.
Dignity-wise, they're in an all-or-nothing situation, starting with Favre, who's playing to prove his comeback was a good idea, and ending with coach
Then again, I'm not sure what he'd say. "Sorry guys, my bad," perhaps? Last week, with an easy chance to position his team for a playoff run, Mangini blew it big time twice by my count. On the first drive of the game he chickened out and called for a field goal from Seattle's two-yard line with less than a yard to go for the first down even though the Jets were averaging almost seven yards per carry on the drive. (What's the worst that could have happened, coach? 'Hawks ball at their own 2 in a scoreless game.)
Later, the Jets were down by seven when they got called for a delay of game, negating a 45-yard field goal that
After all the money
3. Defensively, the Jets need to see the old
It's clear that Jenkins is running out of steam late in the season -- just watch him get held up at the line of scrimmage. It shows on his stat sheet, too: He hasn't made a play behind the line of scrimmage in over three games.
On passing downs, that's lending opponents too much time in the pocket. The Jets defensive backs can only hold tight for so long, so against Seattle and Buffalo the week before you saw a lot of shorter underneath passes that opened up as the play went along. The Bills only managed 148 passing yards, for example, but they were able to work their way to manageable distances on third down with the run and
Much of that pocket-collapsing responsibility falls on Jenkins, who needs to create a strong push from the middle. Given enough time, Pennington, who's especially deft with the short ball, will make the Jets pay.
Instead, expect the Dolphins to use their Wildcat offense for quick access to the outside lanes. When these two teams met in September, the Dolphins had not yet employed the formation, and now seems as good a time as ever. This is a playoff game; no use holding anything back.
The Wildcat gives
On the other side you have a guy, Favre, who started out as a loose cannon and has only gotten looser since. Favre's 19 interceptions, an NFL high, are slightly above his career average; his sack numbers are way up (has anyone noticed his new
Pennington gets the win, 23-21, but Brown and Wiliams do most of the legwork. Based on what I saw two weeks ago in East Rutherford against the Bills, the Jets aren't stopping anyone in what should be nippy weather. In that game,
The predictions don't stop there. After the game,