It is no secret, the New York Jets aren't a beloved team by many people around the NFL. They open themselves up to be disliked because of their attitude and the amount of public attention they receive. The criticism gleefully piles up when they lose a game, while there is no shortage of excuses or minimization when they find ways to win.
Look at this week's game against the Indianapolis Colts: A Jets victory will merit discussion about how banged up the Colts were, how they only made the playoffs because of a weak division, and how the Jets got by a team full of backups who is far from being a serious contender. Yet, as of right now everybody seems to be expecting the poor Indianapolis Colts and their IR list that extends out the door to get victory. Nobody expects the Jets to win but then nobody will be willing to give them credit if they do win.
Many people wanted the Jets to flame out in 2010. They were a 9-7 team in 2009 who got lucky to make the playoffs and who were writing a check they couldn't cash with all their pre-season hype. Unfortunately, it appears Rex Ryan was on to something because his team improved two games and is right back in the playoffs. For the second year in a row, it is the New York Jets not the New York Giants who are the only relevant football team when January comes around and that is an accomplishment in itself.
However, now is the time for the Jets to cash the checks their mouths have written. Make no mistake, it would be very impressive for this team to go into Indianapolis and pull out a victory. It would be a big step in Ryan's coaching career to finally get past Manning in a playoff game and it would be Mark Sanchez's third road playoff victory in two years. Beyond that, it would demonstrate the Jets off-season moves made sense because they were made in large part to specifically get past Manning.
We all know what lays past Manning and the Colts, a trip into New England who are an improved, more dangerous version of the 2009 Colts team that knocked the Jets out last year. Yet, that is a story for another day, right now this franchise needs to take another step in the right direction by knocking off a Hall of Fame quarterback in the playoffs and giving themselves a chance to avenge the humiliation they endured on Monday night only a few weeks ago.
People are undoubtedly bitter that the Jets are in the spotlight again, playing the primetime game on Wild Card Weekend. It doesn't matter, this Saturday isn't about silencing critics, it is about winning a football game and getting one step closer to the Super Bowl.