To everyone who claimed that the Bills weren't a threat last week, I won't tell you that I told you so. Mostly because I predicted that the Jets would win. I did think that the Bills were a major threat to the Jets, but I did not expect the game to go the way that it did. The Bills gifted the Jets the game and the Jets gifted it right back. You can blame playcalling, coaching, or anything you'd like. The fact is that the Jets were sloppy and lost a game that could mean the difference between playing a postseason game or sitting at home in January. After losing to Oakland and Buffalo, the Jets don't have many free passes left if they want to make a playoff run.
Where We Are
The Jets are really in a funk right now. After losing 3 out of their last 4, the Jets are barely over .500 after crossing the midway point of the season. Not only have all 3 losses come at the hands of conference opponents, but the Jets have now lost to their biggest divisional opponent and the two biggest wild card competitors that they will face this season. Despite these losses, there is still a lot of football left to be played. Our very own GangGreeninYonkers wrote a great post that explains that the Jets are still in the thick of the playoff race. Oakland now sits at 4-5 and the Jets have another shot to beat the Bills later in the season. Pittsburgh is dealing with a ton of injuries and have a pretty brutal schedule remaining. The Jets have done everything they could to screw up their playoff hopes, but the Jets still have an excellent shot at a wild card spot.
Where They Are
The 4-5 Texans are inexplicably in a tie for first place in the heavily maligned AFC South division. The Texans could actually be in the best position to earn a divisional playoff spot with the hapless Jaguars and Titans floundering in the division and the once-intimidating Colts looking lost with their young QB sidelined and a 4-5 record. The Texans have been a very inconsistent team this year and are hard to get a handle on. While their 4-5 record implies a weaker team, I actually think the Texans probably have the best chance to win the AFC South. The Texans have beaten powerhouses like Cinci, but lost to bottomfeeders like Miami. Still, it's important to remember that the Texans have lost to Kansas City, Carolina, Atlanta, and Indianapolis. These are not exactly the worst teams in the NFL. For the most part, the Texans have beaten weak teams and lost to stronger teams. The inconsistent Jets will pose an interesting challenge.
|Fitzpatrick, Ryan||QB||Left Thumb||DNP||FP|
|Novak, Nick||K||Right Thigh||FP||FP|
I try not to repeatedly pick the quarterback, but Ryan Fitzpatrick has to be the choice here. Fitz just had surgery a week ago. Can you imagine trying to play professional football against a player like J.J. Watt less than two weeks after having surgery? Say whatever you want about Fitzpatrick's play on the field (which has been pretty solid over the last stretch), Fitzpatrick is a baller. The guy is tough and it's hard not to root for a player like Fitzpatrick. With Ivory on the fritz, the load goes to Fitz. Against a team that has a handful of holes and a handful of superstars, Fitz will have to play mistake-free football while dealing with a recently surgically-repaired hand. If anyone can do it, it's Fitzy.
The Texans have been playing coy with Deandre Hopkins' health. Hopkins has claimed that he's 100 percent and good to go, but it's hard to be sure. A few months ago, I remember someone on the site asked me which receivers I would put in my top 10. My 10th choice was Hopkins. A lot of people disagreed and argued that he wasn't a top 10 receiver; not a single person agreed. Halfway through the 2015 season, I think it's hard to argue that he isn't a top 10 receiver anymore. Hopkins is averaging over 100 yards per game and has 7 touchdowns through 9 games. Not only does he consistently put stats on the board, Hopkins makes the spectacular plays you need to win games. Dealing with injuries and going up against one of the NFL's best corners in Darrelle Revis, Hopkins is going to have to play well to help carry a flaccid Texans offense that has lost it's only other stud (Arian Foster) for the year once again.
Keys To Victory
The Texans offense has shown me little to nothing to be afraid of this season. If you can stop Deandre Hopkins, there's really nothing to worry about on the offensive side of the ball. The defense is a lot more concerning in my eyes. J.J. Watt is arguably the best defensive player the NFL has seen in decades. And I would argue that. The defense has other big name starters around him (namely Vince Wilfork and Brian Cushing), but overall the unit has been pretty average. The defense has come on in recent weeks, however, holding teams to 6 points in back to back weeks. With J.J Watt teeing off against Brick and Giacomini, the Jets are going to have to do everything they can to negate Watt. If they want to have a passing game, the Jets will have to use a combination of chips, sweeps, and play action to slow Watt down.
The Bottom Line
I keep picking the Jets and getting kicked in the...place you don't want to be kicked. But once again, I'm going to have to pick the Jets. Houston has some superstar players and a very likable head coach, but they haven't put together a lot of great games this season. Still, I'm pretty much stuck at 50/50 at best for any game this season. I can't exactly argue that the Bills, Raiders, or Eagles are better players than Houston. With game wreckers like Watt and Hopkins on both sides of the ball, you never know what you're going to get. I think the Jets eek out a win, but I would really love to see a dominating performance to inspire some confidence after 3 demoralizing losses.