While the Jets playoff hopes might have been on life support following their 19-3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday night, they came out of the weekend in stable condition after losses by the Patriots, the Dolphins, the Raiders and the Browns.
If the Jets win their final two games — at Seattle and at Miami — AND the Patriots lose/tie vs. Miami or at Buffalo, then the Green & White will make the postseason for the first time since 2010. The Jets, a club that was 7-4 and had three chances from the 1-yard line to take a fourth quarter lead at the Vikings on Dec. 4, dropped three consecutive one-score decisions in Minnesota (27-22), in Buffalo (20-12) and at home vs. Detroit (20-17) before being handled by the Jaguars, 19-3, in Week 16.
"There is still a lot to look forward to with this season," HC Robert Saleh said on Friday morning. "Thinking playoffs is farfetched, but at the same time, we've done a lot of really, really cool things this year and the most important thing right now is finishing strong, which starts with Seattle."
The Jets are the AFC's No.9 seed and they'll be in the Pacific Northwest on Sunday to battle a Seahawks team currently the NFC's No. 8 seed. At 7-8, Seattle must win out and have Washington lose once AND Green Bay lose once. In 15 starts this season, QB Geno Smith, who started 30 games for the Jets from 2013-16, has completed 70.7% of his passes for the 'Hawks with 27 TDs and 9 INTs. On Monday afternoon,Brian Costello of The New York Postreported that Jets QB Mike White had been cleared by doctors and would start on Sunday in Seattle.
"All these teams that are surging, the teams that we've played in the last four weeks: Kirk Cousins, Josh Allen, [Jared] Goff was playing the best football of his career," Saleh said. "Trevor [Lawrence] has turned the corner and he's playing the best football of his young career, and he's definitely going to be a mainstay for a long time. This is the time for defenses and quarterback play to elevate, along with the run game."
There are plenty of connections and similarities between the Jets and the Seahawks. Robert Saleh was Pete Carroll's defensive quality coach from 2011-13, earning a championship ring following the 'Hawks dismantling of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.
The two clubs have four Pro Bowlers (Jets: DT Quinnen Williams, LB C.J. Mosley, CB Sauce Gardner and ST Justin Hardee; and Seahawks: QB Smith, K Jason Myers, a Jet in 2018, S Quadre Diggs and CB Tariq Woolen). The Jets arguably should have had a fifth Pro Bowler as CB D.J. Reed, who experienced a career breakthrough in Seattle in 2020-21, has set a career high with 12 PDs.
Gardner and Woolen, a fifth-round pick from Texas-San Antonio who has 6 INTs, 2 FR, 1 FF and 1 TD, will get consideration for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. And Coby Bryant,who played collegiately at Cincinnati with Gardner, has appeared in 15 games for Seattle and has 4 PDs and 4 FF. On the offense, the Jets continue to get outstanding production from rookie WR Garrett Wilson, who needs 4 yards to reach 1,000, and the Seahawks will counter with RB Kenneth Walker, who's averaged 4.6 yards an attempt and has rushed for 803 yards with 9 rushing TDs.
If the Jets beat the Seahawks on Sunday and the Dolphins top the Patriots, the two teams will meet in South Florida with a playoff berth on the line to close the regular season.