Fortune has visited the Jets during this holiday season and they're faced with a situation that they couldn't have imagined immediately after the Week 15 loss to the Falcons: Win and they're in the playoffs.
"I think we're getting a lot of Christmas presents after Christmas," said cornerback Darrelle Revis after many of the 7-7 teams lost Sunday to catapult the Jets into the lead for the AFC's fifth playoff spot. "We still have to play, we still could lose, we could still win. We don't know what the outcome can be. I think we just need to focus in and whoever comes in that building, play."
With the AFC North title wrapped up, the 10-5 Bengals may decide to sit several of their starters as the Colts did Sunday, including former Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer. That means the Jets could face backup QB J.T. O'Sullivan.
O'Sullivan, unlike Indy's Curtis Painter, has had some NFL snaps. He's actually a seventh-year veteran who's bounced around several teams' practice squads and even played in eight games last season with the 49ers.
The 6'2", 230-pounder has played sparingly in two games this season for the Bengals, going 1-for-3 for 9 yards passing.
"He's a National Football League quarterback. He's obviously done enough to get here," said safety Jim Leonhard. "He's not Carson Palmer, so you take that as better for us maybe, but they have players. They have a lot of good players on that team."
And there's no guarantee that any of them will sit. They may decide to play the entire game with the playoffs approaching and a possible rematch with the Jets in an AFC Wild Card Game.
"It depends on what their mentality is going to be," said Leonhard. "They're going to make the decisions just as the Colts did. Whatever's going to put them in the best position in the playoffs. That's why decisions are made. We can't speculate. We can't try to figure out what's going to happen. We just have to prepare ourselves. If they don't play, great, if they do play, we have to do what we have to do."
Veteran linebacker Bart Scott has a lot of experience playing against the Bengals, a division rival during his first seven NFL seasons with Baltimore.
"We got a lot of hits on Carson," he said. "I've never actually sacked him but I probably hit him at least 20 times. I probably hit him more than any quarterback I hit in this league."
Scott knows that business will be handled on the Meadowlands turf Sunday, regardless of who's in the game.
"All I can play is whoever is out there on the football field," the Madbacker said. "I'm not concerned with what other organizations choose to do with their players and go about their philosophy. I just go out there and play and try to get to the playoffs. That's my main concern. That's my only concern."
The Bengals come into town with the NFL's sixth-best rushing attack at 132.3 yards a game against the Jets defense that continues to rank No. 1 overall in the league.
"They're doing real well running the football," said Leonhard, who played them twice last season while with the Ravens. "They're running the ball a lot better than they have in recent years and playing great defense. We have a lot of things to take care of whether Carson's in the game or not."
Leonhard grew up a lot in last season's playoffs, his first pro postseason, making a name for himself with 16 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception in three games before Baltimore lost the AFC Championship Game to Pittsburgh. But a lot of players on the Jets don't have any playoff experience.
"When you get into the playoffs, nothing that you've done in the regular season really matters," said Scott, pointing out that the Arizona Cardinals went 9-7 last season and made it to the Super Bowl. "It's all about a new season, a fresh slate. Everybody gets energized. Rex put up a list of a lot of guys that haven't been in a playoff atmosphere. I think it will be a great experience for those guys without experience to get experience playing in that type of environment."
And it would be nice for the Green & White to put all the adversity they've faced this season behind them.
"The game last week had a playoff atmosphere," said running back Thomas Jones. "For guys that haven't been to the playoffs, or haven't experienced it, once you experience it one time you want to go every year. That's why you play, to make it to the playoffs and have an opportunity to win the Super Bowl.
"We're excited about the opportunity we have to win and get in the playoffs. We have our work cut out for us but we're going to give everything we have this week, practice and get prepared and go out there and play well against Cincy."