Last year, some called the 9-7 Cardinals the worst team to ever qualify for a berth in the NFL postseason.
And they nearly won the Super Bowl.
This year, the Jets could face similar criticism. They have the same record as the 2008 Cardinals. Unlike Arizona, which had a two-time league MVP under center, the Jets have an untested rookie quarterback who has yet to prove that he can perform at a high level in the elements.
If they’re bombarded with beliefs that they don’t belong, coach Rex Ryan will find a way to use it to motivate the troops to overachieve.
But they might not need it. With a top-flight defense and a run-heavy offense, the Jets are built to succeed in the postseason.
And Ryan knows it.
“I feel good about our team,” the first-year coach said after the game. “I think we’re right there. In these conditions, with that great running game and you play great defense, we’ll be tough to beat.”
(Of course, humility might serve Ryan’s interests better, but we’ve accepted the fact that he’ll never change.)
Actually, the one thing that hurts the Jets is the thumping they administered last night to the Bengals. With that dominant, 37-0 win, the Jets will catch no one by surprise in the postseason — especially since they open up with the team they just beat.
If the Jets can repeat their feat on Sunday night, however, things will instantly become very interesting in the AFC, as the Jets return to Indianapolis for a game that the Colts surely will take a lot more seriously.