Now that the Chicago Bears have beaten the Seattle Seahawks, and prevented the ignominy (love that word!) of a 7-9 team advancing to one of the NFL's Conference Championship Games, and also set up the biggest game in the 90-year history of their magnificent rivalry with the Green Bay Packers (win and you're in the Super Bowl), let's talk about New York vs. Boston.
Or, rather, the New York Tri-State Area vs. New England. After all, it would be weenie to say, "Let's talk about East Rutherford vs. Foxboro."
Top 5 Reasons Why the Jets Can Beat the Patriots.
1. Familiarity Kills Mystiques. It happened for the Yankees against the Royals in 1980, the Dodgers in 1981, the Red Sox in 2004 and the Rays in 2008. It happened for the Cowboys against the Eagles in 1981, the 49ers in 1982, the Redskins in 1983 and the Packers in 1996. It happened for the Celtics against the 76ers in 1967, the Knicks in 1973, the Lakers in 1985 and the Pistons in 1988. It happened for the Lakers against the Pistons in 1989, the Pistons against the Bulls in 1991, and the Knicks against the Bulls in 1994 (for all the good it did them in the Finals).
Rex Ryan is no longer a rookie head coach. Mark Sanchez is no longer a rookie quarterback. They've faced the Pats 4 times now, and beaten them twice. Never mind the scores. Throw that 45-3 egg laid by the Jets at Foxboro earlier this season out. They are even the last 2 seasons. Should the Jets be concerned about the Pats? Of course. Should they be scared? As my sister, a Jet fan, would say, Hells to the no.
On a related subject...
2. You Can Take Your Home Field Advantage and Shove It. Anyone who says New England sports fans are no big deal has never been to Fenway Park, the Boston Garden (old or new), or even Gampel Pavilion. But Gillette Stadium isn't quite the same thing.
You think the Jets are afraid of Foxboro? Last week, they did what they were unable to do a year earlier: Go into that considerably louder indoor stadium in Indianapolis and beat the Peytons. What they were able to do last season was go into Cincinnati and beat the Bengals (unlike this season, last season that was a notable accomplishment) and go into San Diego and beat the Chargers. Whatever the reasons to be concerned about the Pats, their yard is not going to be one of them. Playing in a place every year, guaranteed, makes the novelty wear off.
3. The Giants Wrote the Script. In Super Bowl XLII, the Giants ended the Patriots' bid for an undefeated season by breaking through the Pats' offensive line, getting in Tom Brady's face, and knocking him on his candy ass. (Ha! Bet Antonio Cromartie wished he thought of "candy ass" instead of "asshole.") The Jets have the defense to pull this off at the front end of the Pats' passing game.
4. Darrell Revis. The Jets also have the defense to pull it off at the back end. (Not to be confused with Bill Belichick, although he is an ass, which is not to be confused with an asshole or a candy ass.) The Giants won that Super Bowl despite not having a defensive back as good as Revis. (In fact, they haven't had one that good since Emlen Tunnell, and that was half a century ago.)
If Randy Moss both was still in Foxboro and felt like playing, it would be a different story. But... Deion Branch? Wes Welker? Excuse me, but is Revis, supposed to be, like afraid of these guys? Algie Crumpler? When Revis is done with him, he'll be more like "Crumpled."
5. The Agony of Da Feet. Make all the jokes you want about Rex and Michelle Ryan, but, last week, the Colts had Adam Vinatieri, and it didn't matter, because Nick Folk of the Jets was the one who kicked the winning field goal. The Pats no longer have Vinatieri. They have Shayne Graham. If this game comes down to either Folk or Graham having to hit a field goal to win it, or to at least send it into overtime, I think we'll have a new round of "Folk Hero" headlines.
Of course, there are at least...
3 Reasons Why the Jets Might Not Beat the Patriots.
1. They're Still the Patriots. Not the Steelers, not the Colts, not any NFC team, the Patriots are still the team that defines pro football excellence. Until someone proves that they're not.
2. They're Still the Jets. You know this team: They tend to self-destruct at the worst possible moment, whether it's in the first game of the season (Vinny Testaverde, 1999) or in the AFC Championship Game (1982-83, 1998-99, last season). In fact, this is the first season they've followed up a really good season with another since 1985-86. Which suggests that the fall, if it comes, will be so shocking, so cringe-inducing, that, 50 years from now, people will still be groaning about it, or trying to come up with a "Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame... " Sanchez for throwing that late interception, or LaDanian Tomlinson for that fumble, or Revis for letting Branch breeze past him, or Folk for missing that last-minute field goal... I don't want any of these things to happen, but these are the Jets: You know they could.
3. Massachusetts Mike. Michael Bloomberg, New England's one-man mole in the Mayor's office, predicted that the Jets would win the Super Bowl, just as he predicted last fall that the Yankees would win the World Series.
Seriously, Bloomy: If you can't resign, and let the City of New York have a Mayor who gives a damn about its people, not just about how it can boost his (or her, I think Council Speaker Christine Quinn is next in line) ego or bank account, then at least, when it comes to sports. Shut. The hell. Up. Because, whatever you know about business, you clearly know less about sports than you know about governance -- which is not the same as politics.