Originally written on Turn On The Jets  |  Last updated 11/20/12

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - MAY 02: Head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets speaks to the media during minicamp on May 2, 2009 at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
The New York Jets are holding on to the slimmest of playoff hopes thanks to last week’s victory over the St. Louis Rams and the general mediocrity of the AFC. An upset over the New England Patriots this Thursday night could set the table for a late season playoff run, aided by an alarmingly weak schedule the rest of the way. The Jets don’t play a team with a better current record than 4-6 after this week’s game. Late season games against New England have marked the pivot points of every Rex Ryan led Jets season so far and this year appears no different. Hopefully, the Jets will be able to reverse their recent trend of disastrous performances in these pivot games. In 2009, the team bottomed out at 4-6 after getting blown out 31-14 in New England thanks mostly to a four interception performance from Mark Sanchez. Ryan responded by benching Kerry Rhodes on defense and drastically scaling back the Jets offense and going even more run heavy than before (remember the color coded wristband?). The Jets won 5 of their next 6 and snuck into the playoffs to make an improbable run to the AFC Championship Game. In 2010, it was the Monday Night Massacre which ended a four game Jets winning streak with a 45-3 loss. Another three interceptions from Sanchez and another loss to rally around, which the Jets didn’t truly do until they shocked the Patriots in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Last year, the 5-3 Jets were coming off an impressive road win in Buffalo and appeared ready to overtake New England for the AFC East lead. What happened? 37-16 New England at MetLife with 2 interceptions from Sanchez. They lost the following week in Denver before going 3-3 down the stretch to miss the playoffs. The Jets have no margin for error this Thursday. There is no time to rally around another New England blowout loss and Sanchez stink bomb. Simply put, a win makes the Jets very relavant in December. A loss means they are basically playing out the string. They are catching New England without Rob Gronkowski and Chandler Jones, along with a banged up Aaron Hernandez. Yes, the Patriots are still a much better all-around team but the Jets out-played them a month ago and still found a way to lose a heart-breaker in overtime. They should be confident. Take away the kick return touchdown. Take away the safety. Don’t get gun-shy conservative on defense in a big spot and keep a balanced, yet creative approach on offense. This game will be competitive in the fourth quarter and who knows what could happen then. The Jets defense played a strong game up until New England’s final two drives in the previous meeting. Rex Ryan is smart enough not to come with the same scheme at Brady twice in one season. Look for Antonio Cromartie to work between Brandon Lloyd and Aaron Hernandez (if he plays), while bracketing Wes Welker in the slot. New England’s running game is more potent than in previous years but you’d rather force the Patriots to put together 12-13 play drives to score points. You can’t let them rip off 25 yards a play in the passing game. Muhammad Wilkerson needs to continue his recent hot streak and generate pressure upfront along with Quinton Coples. The Jets don’t really have the horses to blitz Brady because of their lack of talent at linebacker and if you don’t get to Brady when you blitz, he kills you. On offense, the Jets got a good push in the running game earlier in the season against New England’s front seven. It will be important to stick with the committee approach, alternating between Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight to keep a fresh back. Powell and McKnight also need to be used to make an impact in the short passing game. When it comes to throwing the ball, Mark Sanchez needs to protect the football above everything. New England is a bad defense but an opportunistic defense. If you don’t let them take the ball away, the Patriots aren’t pulling away in this one. There is going to be chances for big plays down the field, particularly from Jeremy Kerley and Dustin Keller out of the slot. The two combined for 213 receiving yards back in October. We mentioned a “creative” offense a few paragraphs ago. The Jets still lack overall talent on offense and shouldn’t be hesitant to empty the playbook out a little bit on Thursday. A well-timed reverse or flea-flicker could steal points for an offense that desperately needs any they could get. This game is a referendum on both Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez. Can Sanchez protect the football and play well enough to give his team a chance to win, in a game that could propel a late season run that might save his job? Can Rex put together a game plan to steal a victory from a team with vastly superior talent? Any questions about Ryan’s head coaching future here will go radio silent with a national television victory over the Patriots with the current group of players he is working with.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Brady issues statement on Facebook after having suspension lifted

Don Orsillo reportedly asked to lie about being fired by NESN

Matt Cassel believes Bills will keep three quarterbacks

St. Louis police seize scalpers' World Series tickets to give to friends

Eli Manning happy Tom Brady will play NFL season opener

Phil Kessel has shed 13 pounds this summer

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Cam Newton addresses ‘gang’ photo on Instagram

Steelers defense is younger and faster but not better

Duke basketball to visit White House next Tuesday

Report: Cowboys have interest in Broncos RB Montee Ball

NFL owners to discuss changing Goodell's disciplinary role

Report: Eagles trade Matt Barkley to Arizona Cardinals

WATCH: Ben Revere gifted Matt Wieters a home run

Judge Sarah Thomas as an NFL official, not a female NFL official

Redskins skip Robert Griffin III in jersey countdown

Wisconsin vs Alabama preview

Simona Halep popular with fans who want to kiss her

Patriots planned on raising a "Brady banner on opening night

Braves and Phillies sucking at the same time is rare

Montana St. linebacker delivers bone crushing hit in opener

Despite loss, all eyes still on Jim Harbaugh, Wolverines

Kirk Cousins discusses what it’s like to be called ‘Kurt’

Playoffs or not, Bryce Harper is the NL MVP

Donald Sterling’s wife Shelly seeking alimony

Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler: A love/hate relationship

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Wisconsin vs Alabama preview

Tom Brady issues statement on Facebook

Robert Griffin III and a dream deferred

Best, worst surprises of NFL preseason

The Gospel Of Harbaugh prepares for its ultimate test of faith

Meet the Utah Utes, the pluckiest program in college football

Iman Shumpert will name daughter Iman Shumpert Jr.

Dallas company celebrates Romo with DirecTV 'crownies'

Top 10 storylines for Week 4 of the NFL preseason

Matt Williams is still hopelessly married to the idea of the closer’s role

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker