Saturday's MetLife matchup against the 9-4 Texans doesn't appear favorable for the 4-9 Jets. That's on the surface.
But see Point 7 below. And then consider that the Jets ended their six-game losing streak with their rousing 27-23 comeback Sunday at Buffalo, which had the Green & White feeling fine heading into this short week.
"Obviously when you haven't won in a couple of weeks, it's pretty good," head coach Todd Bowles said. "They earned it, it's a pretty good feeling, and you try to remember what it feels like and go from there."
Then the Texans saw their nine-game win streak ended at home in a 24-21 loss to Indianapolis. Mix in a possible rainy track at the Meadowlands site as late afternoon turns to night, and maybe that will slow down QB Deshaun Watson and WR DeAndre Hopkins. Maybe.
One thing S Jamal Adams says is a sure thing is that the Jets' heads are still in this season, not only for what it means for their 2018 resting spot but for what it may set up for 2019.
"Obviously, we're not looking forward to the playoffs — that's set in stone," Adams said. "But anytime you can go in with wins under your belt, it brings a lot of confidence into the room, into this organization and into this building."
Here are seven points of interest for the Jets, who last won on a Saturday at Dallas in 2015 and last won at home on a Saturday in the 2002 AFC Wild Card shutout of the Colts, as they prep for the Texans (kickoff 4:30 p.m. ET)"
1. Taking a Texans Turn
The Jets enjoyed the first five games of this short rivalry, winning all five. LaMont Jordan's late TD run lifted them to a 19-14 comeback in their first game against the two-year-old Texans on the road in 2003. Chad Pennington's teams scored solid home wins in '04 and '06. Mark Sanchez's and Rex Ryan's first games with the Jets was the '09 season-opening win at Houston, then Sanchez's last-minute completions, long to Braylon Edwards, short to Santonio Holmes, pulled out the 30-27 verdict at New Meadowlands Stadium in '10. The last two meetings have gone the Texans' way, at MetLife on MNF in '12 and at NRG Stadium in '15.
2. The HCs on the QBs
Darnold, after scoring the comeback verdict over fellow rookie Josh Allen, now gets to duel with a second-year QB in Watson .The Jets have never run into Deshaun as a Texan but his reputation precedes him: He's 12-7 as a starter, has a 101.6 passer rating, and is averaging 6.2 yards/carry in his two pro seasons. Bowles: "He can beat you in the pocket and out of the pocket. He's a gamer." Houston HC Bill O'Brien had similar sentiments about Sam Darnold, specifically about his poise, arm, intelligence and extension of plays. Said OB: "The young quarterbacks in our league right now, it's really an exciting time, and Sam's a part of that."
3. Downfield Opportunity?
Darnold has to stay out of the clutches of DEs J.J. Watt (12.5 sacks, 22 QB hits, five forced fumbles) and Jadeveon Clowney (seven sacks, 15 QB hits). But as Sam said this week, he'll have "no flinch about it" as he tries to find his receivers. Returning to the fore is WR Robby Anderson, who had receptions of 25 and 37 yards vs. the Bills after going without a 20-plus catch for five games. WR Quincy Enunwa (ankle) is out but WR Jermaine Kearse and TE Chris Herndon have been low-key recently and could benefit from Robby's reemergence. This is important because the Texans have yielded 1,043 net passing yards in their last three games, most in the NFL, with all three games at their home.
4. Threatening Threesome
Watson can be dangerous but he's still only a video image for most Jets until Saturday. But several defenders know first-hand of Hopkins, who had five catches for 118 yards and two TDs against the Jets at Houston in 2015. D-Hop, as S Jamal Adams calls him, has 84 catches for 1,151 yards and nine TDs and is closing in on a career year. And RB Lamar Miller is the only player in NFL history with two runs of at least 97 yards. One came three weeks ago against the Titans, the other four years ago as a Dolphin vs. the Jets. Miller, teamed with Alfred Blue and Watson, form the NFL's No. 3 rushing offense at 136.8 yards/game.
Take a Look Through Top Photos of the Series Against the Texans Over the Years
5. Another Vote for Jamal
The Pro Bowl beat goes on for Adams, who as a frequent blitzer at Buffalo had a season-low one tackle but picked up two QB hits and a fumble recovery to set up the Jets' first field goal. He is now one of only two NFL players, regardless of position, with 70-plus tackles, 12-plus PDs and two-plus forced fumbles. (The other, interestingly, is Texans CB Kareem Jackson.) O'Brien, in his recent video study of the Green & White, is the latest influencer in the league to be impressed by No. 33: "I would say Jamal Adams is one of the best players we've played against all year. He's a great football player."
6. Takeaway on Texans' Takeaways
The Jets' turnover famine is hopefully a thing of the past after four takeaways in the last two games. CB Trumaine Johnson has three of them to become the first Jet with three INTs in back-to-back games since Dee Milliner in 2013 and before that Darrelle Revis in 2011. But Houston is adept at the takeaway art as well. Led by rookie S Justin Reid's four takes, the Texans have 23 for the season, tied for fifth in the NFL, and have scored 84 points off TOs, third in the league. And while their plus-9 turnover margin is tied for fourth, over the last 11 weeks they're at plus-11, tied for first. If Darnold and the Jets don't avoid gift-giving, the Texans could have a holiday.
7. Why They Play the Games
So how many times have the Jets gone in with a record that's five games or more worse than their opponents' and come out with a victory? Perhaps more than you'd think. They're 12-33 in such games all-time, 8-16 at home. The list starts with rookie Joe Namath and the 4-8-1 Jets toppling the 10-2-1, AFL-champs-to-be Bills, 14-12, in 1965. There was the 20-10 win over the playoff-bound Vikings in 1970, the OT survival against Kenny Stabler's Houston Oilers in '80, and a couple of W's over Ben Roethlisberger's Steelers, in 2007 and '14. The five-games-better Texans do look like a tough task. The odds are long. Are the Jets spoiling for another surprising W?