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State of the Nation: Week 16

NFL: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the final week of Jets football and the Jets have the chance to play spoiler. It will be an all AFC East game list this week, as the Jets take on the Patriots while the Dolphins and Bills duke it out in Buffalo.

Buffalo Bills 5-10

The Bills’ winning streak ended at one after a lopsided loss to the New England Patriots. Josh Allen has looked very much the work in progress that he is recently, completing less than 50% of his passes with a 1:2 touchdown to interception ratio. While his running ability is always a threat, he’s now posted 4 QB ratings below 55 over his last 8 games without a single game at 90 or above. The 15th and 16th quarterbacks in passer rating this season are both at exactly 96 this season, making that statistic troubling for Allen fans. In fact, as per Pro Football Reference’s list of 33 eligible quarterbacks this season, Allen is currently dead last in passer rating and completion percentage. While the Jets can’t say Darnold has been the best QB in the NFL, he currently has the edge over Allen with over 14 points in passer rating. The Bills future is in Allen’s hands, which haven’t been very accurate or encouraging thus far.

Miami Dolphins 7-8

The Dolphins finally collapsed entirely in their 17-7 loss against the Jaguars in which they were dominated by the 4-10 team with nothing to play for anymore. This game very well might have doomed Ryan Tannehill’s chances of returning next season, as he failed to produce for the second straight week and completely doomed the team’s chances with a demoralizing pick-6 while down by three points in the fourth quarter. The team appears doomed to mediocrity despite a handful of legitimately talented players and decent coaching. While the Jets were also manhandled by the Jaguars, a lot has changed in Jacksonville since then and the Dolphins are in clear collapse. They’ll have nothing but pride left to play for this week against the Bills, and neither team looks particularly frightening in the foreseeable future.

New England Patriots 10-5

Just when it appeared that the Patriots would have to play on Wildcard Weekend, the Eagles won a close game against the Texans. The Patriots rolled right past a banged up Bills team with little resistance, outscoring them in each of the first 3 quarters en route to a 21-6 lead that proved insurmountable. Despite the Miami Miracle a few weeks back, the Patriots have proven themselves to be well above the rest of the AFC East. Now they have a good chance to secure a first round bye if they can get beat the Jets in Foxboro.

New York Jets 4-11

The Jets are one game away from failing to reach their 2017 benchmark of 5 wins, which would be a colossal failure if not for the fact that the team is extremely lacking in talent and started the youngest rookie QB in NFL history. While the record is atrocious, the Jets have seen considerable development from their last two 1st round picks and have started to look competitive behind a red hot Sam Darnold. The Jets may end up picking at the top of the draft, but there’s reason for optimism. Even in last week’s collapse against the Packers (which made it hard not to think of the Geno Smith-led Jets of four years ago), several young players had excellent games and have shown considerable growth. The growing connections between Sam Darnold, Chris Herndon, and Robby Anderson make it hard not to get at least a little bit excited about next year.