One thing I hear frequently from analysts is that for the Jets to get to the Super Bowl, they need to win the AFC East and get a bye. I do not disagree with this. Look at how difficult the path to Dallas was last year. The Jets had to beat Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger on the road consecutively. It proved to be too much.
Put something into perspective, though. What the Jets did last year would have been good enough to win the division in most seasons. Since 2005, the AFC East Champion finished with less than the 11 wins the Jets posted last year twice and matched it once. By contrast, the division champion has won more than 11 thrice in that span. Getting 11 wins means a division title as often as not recently.
Last year, the Jets just ran into a 14 win juggernaut in their division. There is not much a team can do when that happens. The Jets really did their part anyway. They handed the Patriots one of their two losses. It just was not going to happen. As much as anything, a big year means a bit of luck.