Jets fans could be excused if they felt like they have been in this situation before. This is because they have. Entering Week 17 of the 2002 season, many conditions existed identical to the current ones. Perhaps this is an omen.
Like on that final day in 2002, the Jets, Patriots, and Dolphins all have a chance to win the division entering the regular season's final day. The Jets once again do not control their own destiny and trail first place Miami by a game. New York's chances in the division will depend on the outcome of the New England game at 1:00 and their own 4:15 kick just as they did in 2002. If a particular AFC North team loses, however, the Jets will at least control their own destiny for a Wild Card. That AFC North team was Cleveland six years ago and Baltimore in 2008. Nothing matters, though, unless the Jets take care of business against a motivated opponent. Green Bay was trying to clinch homefield advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs back then, while Miami is in the driver's seat for the AFC East title now. There is one last similarity. The quarterback matchup for the critical Week 17 game at the Meadowlands is once again Brett Favre against Chad Pennington.
With this said, there are many dissimilarities that will probably prevent a similar outcome. Back then, the Jets needed New England to beat Miami. The Pats still were playing for their life. This week, the Jets need 7-8 Buffalo to beat the Pats. Buffalo may be playing for a .500 record and their coach, but the same desperation level will not be there. The coaching matchup is also less than inspiring. Needing Dick Jauron and Trent Edwards to beat Bill Belichick leaves one with a bit less confidence than needing Belichick and Tom Brady to beat Dave Wannstedt and Jay Fiedler. The biggest difference, however, might be momentum entering the week. The 2002 Jets were coming off a huge Sunday Night win at New England going into Week 17. They had won six of eight, and Chad Pennington was on fire. These Jets have lost three of four to weak opponents. Miami and New England are the hot teams this time around, and Chad Pennington is on fire once again for his new team.
Even on that day with everything going for them, the Jets needed an epic collapse from the Dolphins to make the Playoffs. A similar scenario does not seem too likely to play out. Even if Gang Green gets the Buffalo upset, it seems like destiny the Dolphins will take care of business. That is just the way things work for this franchise. However, every real Jets fan will hold out hope until it is official.