Raise your hand if, at the beginning of the season, you thought the Jets would have seven wins in 2006. Keep them raised if you thought they'd have seven wins after 12 games. We bet there not too many hands still in the air. Well, the Jets do have seven wins, and they do have a shot at the playoffs. Their only problem is five teams not in first place have the same record, and there are only two wild-card playoff spots. That means one loss could cost the Jets, and there's no time for looking at opponents' records and relaxing.
Buffalo caught Jacksonville napping two weeks ago before testing the Chargers last Sunday. Quarterback J.P. Losman has shown some poise of late, and he's not the same whipping boy he was last season. But he's not an All-Pro either, and his offense has been sporadic at its best. His Bills have gone 2-4 on the road this year, and those wins came against Miami and Houston.
With another favorable Jets defense-opponents offense matchup, this game is the Jets' to lose. Willis McGahee hasn't helped a ground game that is 29th in the league. A quick burst like the Jets had last week could put this game away early. Coach Eric Mangini has done an excellent job guarding against letdowns, and this isn't the time to change that. "I appreciate the excitement, I appreciate the fans' excitement -- I think that's great," he said. Another win will continue the buzz for another week, but Mangini knows it's not all gravy at this point. Teams don't get within striking distance of the playoffs every year. No matter how low expectations were at the start of the season, the Jets need to maintain their new expectations of themselves. If they don't, they're as good as done.
Photograph of Jets quarterback Chad Pennington during the Jets' victory at Green Bay last Sunday by Mike Roemer/AP