The Jets won Saturday night in Dallas and then they received a rare December Sunday off. After the Green & White moved to 9-5 with a come-from-behind 19-16 triumph over the Cowboys, the Chiefs and the Steelers answered with wins of their own to match at 9-5. While the season does not end today, the Jets will enter Week 16 as the AFC's No 7 seed.
During their four game win streak, the Jets have stayed focused on the opponent immediately in front of them. They will host a 12-2 Patriots team on Sunday that is looking to lock down the AFC's No. 1 seed. The Jets would like to join their division rivals in the tournament, but they know they can't get caught up looking at the scoreboard.
"That is the ultimate goal. But right now we just focus on stacking these wins up," said veteran OLB Calvin Pace on Sunday. "We have to win out. There are some scenarios where if some other people win out they will go. You just have to focus on what we can control. We got this win on the road, a tough one. We have to get two more."
In simplest forms, the Jets – in order to earn wild card entry - have to beat the Patriots & the Bills AND have Kansas City OR Pittsburgh lose one/tie one OR have the Broncos lose one contest. Suddenly the Broncos, who lost a 17-point lead in Denver Sunday, have fallen back and they host an 11-3 Bengals team this weekend in a contest that will have huge postseason implications.
The Jets have to stay hot and they kept their win streak alive in Texas despite eight penalties, a 36% conversion rate on third down and a 100-yard rush effort from Darren McFadden.
"It's a good time to start playing good football. Wasn't pretty today," said Todd Bowles late Saturday evening. "All of them are not going to be pretty, but the good teams win the ugly games. We're on our way to becoming one of those type of teams if we can keep it up."
Back in Week 7, the Jets dropped a 30-23 decision to the Patriots. That started a 1-4 stretch that ended with a 24-17 defeat to the Texans in Houston. But the Jets haven't lost since and veteran Brandon Marshall says there is no time for New York's AFC representative to rest on its laurels.
"We've still got football left. We've got a big game coming up," Marshall said. "We can't hang from the rafters right now because of a little win streak. We've just got to focus on our job."
A year after winning four games, the Jets can reach double-digits against their divisional rival. And while scenarios exist where they can reach the postseason with a loss, they are a lot less likely and the players want to finish the season out in style.
"The one thing I can say, we have stayed the course. We have executed when needed," Pace said. "Listen to Coach Bowles, with the things he is preaching week in and week out. It is coming together for us. I'm happy. Proud of everybody. Everybody is playing a part. A lot of guys who are not household names are stepping up and making plays for us. That is what you have to have if you are trying to make a run to get in this tournament."
So it's the Patriots and it's a big game. But it's a big game because it's the next game – not because it's the Patriots.
"They're a division rival," Bowles said. "We know how good they are and they're the Super Bowl champs, so we've got to clean up a lot of mistakes before we get to them."