Last season, the Jets finished one half of strong football shy of the Super Bowl. They were also one half of the Colts' starters playing from missing the playoffs. Despite all the hype of this summer, the difference between an elite NFL team and a mediocre one is not that large. Sunday's AFC East showdown against the Patriots will go a long way in determining which description best fits the Jets.
A dismal Week 1 performance against the Ravens has the Jets, who do not have an easy schedule, facing the Patriots in a crucial game at home. A loss, and the Jets will sport an 0-2 mark before road games against the Dolphins and Bills. A win, and they're in a fine position in the division. If they want it to be the latter, they'll probably have to be more aggressive on offense. Mark Sanchez hardly ever looked downfield against the Ravens, and the Jets didn't take advantage of three Baltimore turnovers. Gang Green even tied a franchise record with only six first downs. The defense played well enough but committed a slew of penalties in the secondary to extend Ravens drives. Add it all up, and the result was ugly.
This week, the Jets face a better offense but a weaker defense. The Patriots' secondary has little experience, but to exploit that the Jets will have to throw the ball downfield. The Patriots looked dominant against the Bengals' run had no trouble moving the ball in Week 1. If the Jets play as poorly as they did against the Ravens, this game won't be decided by one point. If they play more aggressively on offense and make plays on defense, they're more than capable of avoiding an 0-2 start to their season.