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Assessing the Jets' Playoff Chances

Sanchez says they have a good shot; Is he right?

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    During his weekly visit with the media, Mark Sanchez sounded upbeat when he said he thought the team had a good shot of making the playoffs.

    You know things are bleak for Rex Ryan's team when a good shot at the playoffs qualifies as pie-in-the-sky dreaming. The Jets have a shot at the playoffs, but is it a good shot?

    With half a dozen games left for a team that has played to a 5-5 record in the first 10 games, we thought it would be a good idea to come up with three reasons why the Jets should keep the faith and three reasons why there should be serious doubts about a third straight playoff trip for Rex and his crew. Since the Jets alternate from playing inspiring football and eliciting reactions like this, we'll switch from positive to negative on the list.

    Keep the Faith: The Jets have been through this before in the Ryan era and they have come out the other side with a postseason berth firmly in their grasp. While it is the nature of Jets fans to see disaster around every corner, this group of players has been pretty good at looking past the reasons why they can't win to find ways to actually wind up on top.

    Make Other Plans: This isn't the same team that played out their own version of Andy Dufresne breaking out of Shawshank in the past. Tony Richardson, Damien Woody, Shaun Ellis and others were key parts of those turnarounds and there hasn't been any sign that their replacements are made of the same stock to this point in the season.

    Keep the Faith: Schedule gazing is an inexact science -- did anyone circle last Thursday's game as a loss? -- but the Jets certainly don't have a daunting slate in the weeks to come. Some of the teams with losing records are playing better, but the Bills and Giants are sliding and there's no tough travel in the final six weeks.

    Make Other Plans: We don't want to belabor the Sanchez issue too much, but the team is going to be awfull reliant on him playing very well in bad weather down the stretch of a season where they can't afford mistakes. The fact that Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson are both banged up isn't going to make this any easier because the Jets won't be able to hide their absolute lack of trust in Sanchez.

    Keep the Faith: This defense is still pretty good. Ignore the final five minutes of the Broncos game for a moment (Note: This is impossible) and think about how completely the Jets shut down Denver. Darrelle Revis is having perhaps his best season, David Harris is a really good linebacker and Ryan can still coach.

    Make Other Plans: See that note above about it being impossible to ignore the final five minutes of the Denver game? As good as the Jets defense can be, there have been moments in each of their losses and a few of their wins when they absolutely cannot make a stop when the team needs one. While Ryan is still a master schemer, the talent level isn't high enough to make those schemes pay off as well as they did in Ryan's first two seasons.

    Put it all together and you've got a cloudy crystal ball. We'll know a bit more after the Buffalo game, but this is looking like a six-game slog whose answer won't be known until the first day of next year.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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