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5 Jets Who Will Determine Outcome of Final 5 Games

Can Aaron Maybin keep up his breakneck pace?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Maybin needs to bring the heat to avoid a cold December.

    There are times when it feels like everything having to do with the Jets revolves around Mark Sanchez.

    Quarterbacks have been given a place of priority in the NFL, mostly because the state of the game right now demands a crisp passing attack if you harbor any hopes of contending for a championship. Crisp doesn't usually describe Sanchez's play all that well, which leaves him as a constant source of fodder for those who follow the Jets.

    It's never as simple as just Sanchez, though it can often seem that way. The rest of the Jets have plenty to do with whether the team wins or loses, even if it can be hard to remember that in the heat of the moment.

    As part of an effort to remind the masses of this fact, we've put together this handy list of five other players who will be crucial parts of the five-game playoff push that kicks off Sunday in Washington. These aren't players who need to turn their games around, necessarily, but they are players who are going to loom large in the next five weeks because they offer the Jets something that they can't live without if they are going to grab a wild card spot.

    Dustin Keller: Keller has been a maddening player during Sanchez's three years as the Jets quarterback because of the way he seems to materialize in big spots and then disappears for long stretches. When he is active, as he was against Buffalo, the Jets offense operates at the highest possible level. It's hardly all up to Keller, but he needs to produce down the stretch for the Jets to win games.

    Aaron Maybin: According to Pro Football Focus, Maybin has been the most efficient pass rusher in the league for players with five or more sacks. There's probably not much chance he's going to develop into an every down player thanks to his size, but he needs to keep getting after quarterbacks because no one else on the Jets has shown an ability to do it consistently.

    LaDainian Tomlinson: It looks like Tomlinson is over his injury, which is good because Shonn Greene could use some help in the running game. Tomlinson took on a secondary role late last season, but this year the Jets will have to use him more and his versatility out of the backfield can help Sanchez succeed.

    Antonio Cromartie: He hasn't set the world on fire this season, not by a long shot, but Cromartie hasn't been quite as bad as he's looked at his worst moments. Teams aren't likely to follow the Bills' script of throwing at Darrelle Revis all day, so Cromartie will need to be as good as possible for the defense to play at the level the team needs in the final five weeks.

    Santonio Holmes: It would be an understatement to say this has been a frustrating season for Holmes. He hasn't put up numbers anywhere close to previous seasons, he's been vocally critical of the offense and his chemistry with Sanchez hasn't been where the team needs it to be.

    Maybe last week's game-winner will be a step in the right direction or perhaps Plaxico Burress' continued development will finally loosen things up for Holmes. Either one will work for a Jets team that desperately needs its most talented offensive player to be at his best if they want to make the playoffs.

    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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