If you’re a fan of the Mets, you’ve seen the ending before, most recently, less than three months ago.
If you’re also a fan of the Jets (I won’t even ask if you’re also a Knicks fan), I urge you to somehow not give up on New York professional sports just yet, as hard as that may be to do, after seeing the 2008 Jets go from Super Bowl bound to Super Busts in a span of five weeks.
We saw the Jets season slowly slipping away, week by week. We know of the 8-3 record after the Jets handed the eventual AFC’s top playoff seed its only home loss of the season, a sound beating of then-undefeated, 11-0 Tennessee. We heard the subsequent Super Bowl talk, only to see the Jets take a cue from the Mets over the past two Septembers, losing four of the final five games to miss the playoffs. We saw the Jets lose their final three games at home, and to two more teams on the west coast to losing teams that they figured to beat.
And, on Sunday, we saw the final irony of the steady Chad Pennington, under-appreciated in New York, returning for the first time to the place he used to call home, remarkably leading a Miami Dolphins team from a 1-15 record in 2007 to the AFC East Championship, outplaying the future hall of famer the Jets decided was a better fit for them than Pennington -- of course, the mistake-prone Brett Favre (who threw for just 2 touchdowns and 9 interceptions over the final five weeks).
All the money that the Jets spent last offseason upgrading a 4-12 team in 2007 aimed at making a serious playoff run this season, wasted. The Jets were in control of their own destiny, and like the Mets, they simply let get away. They simply have themselves to blame.
But, not completely.
Wait a minute here. How can anyone possibly defend the Jets’ right to be in the playoffs when the Jets had every opportunity to make it down the stretch, you ask?
Well, because of the NFL’s ridiculous insistence of maintaining divisions instead of simply taking the top 6 records from each conference for the playoffs, as they should.
Divisions allow the San Diego Chargers, a team that has yet to have a winning record at any point this season, be in the playoffs with an 8-8 record over the 9-7 Jets, and much worse, over the 11-5 New England Patriots, who should have been rewarded for having such a good season after losing its starting quarterback in Week 1.
Do the Chargers look more like a playoff team on the field than the Jets? Sure. But, the playoffs should be about the full body of work over 16 games, not the final four or five weeks.
When looking at the full season, which looks more playoff-worthy?
San Diego’s 5-1 record against 8-8 Denver, 5-11 Oakland, and 2-14 Kansas City, while going 3-7 outside the very weak AFC West? Or, the Jets’ 4-2 mark against the 11-5 Patriots and Dolphins, and 7-9 Buffalo Bills, while going 5-5 outside the much stronger AFC East?
Divisions allow the Chargers’ 4-0 finish coupled with the Jets’ 1-4 close to mean more than the two teams’ seasons as a whole.
The current format lets the 8-8 Chargers to wrongly host the 12-4 Indianapolis Colts in the wild-card playoff round next week. And, divisions might mean that Tennessee’s reward for going 13-3 and earning the AFC top seed, could be having to beat a 13-4 Colts team riding a 10-game winning streak, for the second time at home this season.
Jets Have Themselves To Blame, But NFL Playoff Rules Denied Them A Chance
Three teams from the AFC East with better records than the Chargers, yet only one makes the playoffs. That’s just wrong.
Sure, the Jets let their chances get by, but they, along with New England, should still be playing next week, with San Diego watching on TV.