Divisional Winds Could Be Blowing in Jets' Direction

Patriots and Jets could be ships passing in the night

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010  |  Updated 5:31 PM EDT
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The Jets 2009 Season in Pictures

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Darrelle Revis is arguably the best defensive player in the league. Randy Moss doesn't seem to care anymore.

Mark Sanchez is the hot new GQ model/quarterback. Tom Brady is married with children and overly reliant on a slot receiver.

The Jets offensive line has three players going to the Pro Bowl and a fourth, Brandon Moore, who should be. The Patriots can't even block unwanted calls from telemarketers.

The Jets are young, confident and rising. The Patriots are old, apathetic and falling. Is all of that enough to signal a changing of the guard in the AFC East? 

Any answer right now would be premature, but looking at what the offseason holds for each team makes it hard to feel like there's any kind of meaningful gulf between the two teams.

The Patriots need help at every defensive position, all over the offensive line and Bill Belichick needs to prove that he can build a championship team from the ashes of the previous one. The Jets need a pass rusher and they need Sanchez to keep progressing to build on a team that's already in the final eight of the NFL.

Beyond that, the Jets are filled to the brim with the kind of confidence that used to ooze out of every pore in New England. You didn't see a lot of that this season when the Patriots couldn't win a game on the road nor when they allowed the Ravens to come into their house and eviscerate them while throwing for 34 yards. The Patriots don't look like the Patriots anymore and the Jets look ready to assume the spot as lead dog.

Perhaps we're overstating the situation in the Jets' favor, but it isn't easy to see why anyone would be picking the Patriots outside of the fact that they are the Patriots. Since we're discussing the AFC East, it pays to make mention of the Dolphins as well (the Bills need a coach before they enter any kind of conversation.) Miami seems to be heading in the right direction, but they're a passing game short of an offense and a consistent pass rush away from a defense. That's a lot to make up in one offseason, especially with a quarterback who has started fewer games than Sanchez.

We know, we know, still work to be done this season, but it's hard to look at the Jets and not think about how sneaking into the playoffs is the perfect way to set the wheels of long-term change into motion. 

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