The playoff machine scenario on ESPN didn’t make me very happy. If the rest of the season plays out anywhere near what I predicted, I will come back to these few facts from Sunday’s game in Minnesota:
- 1 for 6 in the red zone
- -2 in turnover differential
- +1 in sacks.
I can just feel it, the game in Minnesota was that game. The Minnesota game is going to be the game I want back when the season is over. I just know it. It’s not going to be either of the games against New England; it’s going to be Sunday’s loss in Minnesota. I hope I am wrong, but I feel like this one is going to burn all the way into February.
This one was not all on the offense. Kirk Cousins has been sacked 30 times this season. That is seventh highest in the league. Coming into the game, Minnesota was allowing 2.54 sacks per game. The Jets got two sacks Sunday. It’s not a horrible performance. It’s average, or slightly below average by the numbers. But the Jets defense is not an average defense. They needed to do more. The yardage allowed is fine. The Vikings were under 300 yards rushing and passing for the game. Those are winning numbers, but just about all of that came in the first half when the Vikings were building a 20-6 lead that put the Jets’s quarterback and the offense into comeback mode and out of their comfort zone. The Jet defense didn’t take the ball away either. The Jets lost the turnover battle 0-2. Once again, it’s not awful. You can win games with a -2-turnover differential, but it’s not good. And that’s where this game lands – just a little less than winning football. That is where the burn comes from. It’s just below good enough to win, and if things play out like they look like they may, we will all be burning up thinking about the trip to Minnesota.
Now things get harder. Buffalo. The Bills have won three straight games to take back the top seed in the AFC. They need the game to stay on top in the conference as well as the division, and they will not be taking the Jets lightly after losing to New York in the first matchup. It’s a huge challenge for the Jets and Mike White. One thing is for sure, a good effort Sunday, the kind the defense turned in last week in Minnesota, gets the Jets a double-digit loss. This week they need to be great again like they have been for so many games like they were in the first matchup with Buffalo. The seventeen points the Jets held the Bills to in the first game is the lowest total for the Bills offense all season. Since the first matchup, the Bills have averaged over 28 points per game. The Jets can’t win this week with average. They can’t play an average game and ask Mike White and the offense to score 30 points on the road in Buffalo. If the Bills are allowed to be average, the Jets record will be 7-6 by four o’clock on Sunday. It’s not a playoff record. It’s not a good record. It’s average.
This would be the biggest win of the year. This would shock the league. It would be that type of win for the Jets, but they need great. Average isn’t gonna get it done. They need the Bills to be under 24 points for the game. That’s the number. That’s the number for a great defensive effort. If the Jets can keep the Bills to 23 or less, they will have a shot. It’s fair to ask the Jets offense to put up 24 points. The Jet offense can put up 24 points against the Bills defense in Buffalo in December. They can do that. The Jets got 20 in the first game against Buffalo, and they are more explosive now. They need to play even in the turnover battle. Being -2 isn’t gonna work. They need 24 points, and they need at least a zero in turnover differential. It can be done. They can do it – the defense and the offense can do it.
They can be great Sunday. They can use this game to roll into their last four games as a team on the move, a playoff team – a team nobody wants to play because they went into Buffalo in December against the best team in the conference, and they beat the Bills.