Looks Like We'll Find Out How Mark Sanchez Enjoys Winter

Snow could greet rookie in his return to lineup

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A new study from the Centers for Disease Control has found that New Yorkers are less happy than residents of any other state in the country. New Jersey also ranks in the bottom five, numbers that will only get worse if the Jets should bungle their way into a season and soul-crushing loss against the Falcons on Sunday. Merry Christmas, everyone! 

    Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. These Jets have proven to be a plucky bunch over the last three weeks as they've staved off elimination with a mix of overwhelming defense, a strong kicking game and the benefit of a forgiving trio of opponents. Atlanta is a bit of a step up in class, even without a healthy Matt Ryan and Michael Turner, but, as has been the case all season, the game will come down to whether or not the Jets shoot themselves in the foot.

    That brings us to Mark Sanchez, whose return to the starting lineup was confirmed on Friday by Rex Ryan. There's been naughty and there's been nice from Sanchez in his first season, but it's a good bet that Santa's final decision hinges on Sunday's game.  

    It should be an interesting start for Sanchez. He'll have to deal with two knee braces and, quite possibly, the lingering effects of a winter storm. It's pretty tough to guess about just how he'll handle that since the only snowstorms in Southern California occur when someone drops a bag of cocaine from the second floor of a Hollywood Hills mansion.

    One of the big questions about Sanchez has been how well he'll be able to handle the elements, a test he failed on a blustery day in October against the Bills. We'll see how much he learned from that outing on Sunday, snow or no snow, as well as how much the coaching staff learned about putting all your eggs in a shaky basket. This is a winnable game, but it is one that will test just how much the Jets have gained from the six losses in seven games streak that put their backs up against the wall in the first place.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.