It's been a year of streaks for the Jets and they hope they have one more triumphant run in them as the regular season commences. The Green & White, currently in a three-way tie atop the AFC East with an 8-5 mark, will move a step closer to the playoffs today with a win over Buffalo.
"Throughout the whole season, we've been looked at like we're bottom of the barrel and we've been looked at like we're the best thing since sliced bread. Now we're kind of bouncing in-between," said nose tackle Kris Jenkins this week.
"We're in good standing and we still have a chance to do some good things this year, so I'm optimistic that we're going to get the changes changed and we're going to get it done. It's not too late. We have three games and right now our season is about this game first."
If the Jets hold serve at home against the Bills, they'll complete a sweep of their slumping AFC East rivals for the first time since 2002. But the Green & White, who were the talk of the NFL following five consecutive wins, are on a two-game slide and did not play well in double-digit losses to the Broncos and 49ers.
"We've backed ourselves in the corner a little bit," said safety Kerry Rhodes. "We have to come out and win, which is good for us, though. When we've been in situations where we're counted out, we've done well. And situations where we've been expected to succeed and strive forward, we haven't done so well."
In preparation for the Bills, Jets head coach Eric Mangini made a couple of noticeable schedule changes. Practices were shortened and the Jets moved inside their enormous fieldhouse on both Thursday and Friday.
"As it gets later in the season, you try to scale some things back as much as possible while still getting everything done that you need to get done," said the third-year head coach. "We've done that the last two years. It happened at different points during the season."
The Jets, who topped the Bills, 26-17, back on Nov. 2, have been playing with urgency for some time but another stumble could be fatal.
"Now it's really in your face — the need to win," says left guard Alan Faneca. "You can't let anything slip anymore."
The once contending Bills, who will most likely will be eliminated from the postseason Sunday, have lost six of seven and totaled just a field goal in each of their past two games. Backup QB J.P. Losman will start as they attempt to get on track against the Jets' 31st-ranked pass defense.
"That's just a number," said cornerback Darrelle Revis. "It's 31st and I mean we don't want to be 31st, but it's just something that we've got to be more consistent back there."
Jenkins was the best player on the field in the clubs' first matchup. If he can cause similar mayhem, the Jets are going to extend the Bills' misery.
"When he's on the field, he's going 100 percent," Bills center Duke Preston told buffalobills.com this week. "There's some guys that they're so big and they move so well that a couple times they can coast a little bit if they're getting doubled, but he's bringing it, so we know that we have to bring our 'A' game and really come with it."
The Jets should be bolstered by the homefield advantage as the organization celebrates Fan Appreciation Day. They've asked all fans in attendance to wear green in order to create a "Green Out."
With little margin for error, New York's AFC representative probably will need to win all three of its remaining games to make the playoffs.
"You don't ever want to look back, as an individual or as a team, and say, 'Boy, if I would have just done that or if I would have done this.' You can never do that," said QB Brett Favre. "You can never get that back."
The Jets' backs have hit the wall. There's no room for retreat and you sense they might have one last streak in 'em.
"After the Oakland game, nobody thought we would be in this position anyway. We're 8-5 and in the driver's seat in the division," Rhodes said. "If we win out, we're in. What else could you ask for?"