By Rikki Greenberg
As a Jets fan, there are many things I am thankful for this season. Eliminating the possibility of a Tennessee Titans undefeated season is one of them.Â The Gang Green (8-3) owned “the best team in football” in a breathtaking 34-13 victory over the Titans at LP Field during Week 12 of the regular season.Â The Big Cheese (25-of-32 for 225 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) zipped balls left and right, running back Neon Leon Washington (8 carries for 82 yards) zipped past Titan defenders with two rushing touchdowns and NYJ bested the Titans in almost every important statistical game category (time of possession and total net yards to name a few).
For a team that was supposedly the best in the league, productivity on the field was disappointing to say the least. Rejuvenated Titans quarterback Kerry Collins (21-of-39 for 243 yards, 1 TD) failed to really get anything major going on offense and the Titans defense couldn’t keep up with Favre’s quick release and stifling accuracy.
With five consecutive victories, the Jets climb back on top of their division and finally look like the team to beat in the AFC.Â All aspects of Mangini and his merry men in spandex seem to be on equal footing. Worries of â€œthe Gunslinger (I was going to take this phrase out, but I know how much David K. loves it when people refer to Favre as a gunslinger) of the Eastâ€ being unable to gel with his new offensive teammates no longer exist. The defensive additions of linebacker Calvin Pace and nose tackle Kris Jenkins add power and muscle to unit that has improved to 15th this season.
Compared to last season’s dismal 4-12 record and third-place finish in the AFC East, New York’s second team is flying high and Mangini’s playoff hopes might become more of a reality than a tantalizing dream.Â Now the Jets have something to play for (home-field advantage throughout the play-offs) and something to play with (former drama king and Green Bay Icon quarterback Brett Favre).
As far as the AFC East division is concerned, the powers have shifted considerably since the beginning of the season. Once treasured Patriots quarterback Tom Brady went down with a knee injury and became sidelined for the season, the team’s future became considerably bleaker. Since surprising quarterback Matt Cassel took over the reins for Brady, the Patriots have exceeded expectations and continue upholding their competitive status in both the AFC East and the conference.
The New York Jets also had their fair share of uncertainties at the beginning of the 2008 season. The media circus surrounding the newly acquired and rather indecisive Favre was enough to fill all ESPN programming this past summer.Â Besides the ugly falling-out with his former team, there were other issues surrounding the fragile Favre.Â At 38-years-old, the Big Cheese wasn’t exactly a spring chicken after defining Packers football for the past 16 seasons.Â Fast forward to Week 13 of the 2008 season and the future Hall-of-Famer can’t be pictured in anything but a New York Jets uniform. Ok, maybe thatâ€™s a bit of an exaggeration and I donâ€™t think people in Americaâ€™s Dairyland will ever view him as anything else but a Packer, but you get the idea!
The Titans are still the leaders of the AFC South, but there’s nothing like a loss to shake up a once perfect team. The only competition left in the AFC that the Jets have not faced yet is the AFC Northâ€™s leading Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3). The Steelers are tied with the Titans for best conference record at (7-1). Since the Jets made hot garbage out of the Titans, the only remaining mystery is the Steelers. With five games left in the season, anything is possible, but as of right now, I see three contending teams coming out of the AFC- New York, Tennessee and Pittsburgh.Â May the best New York team win.
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