FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The best player of the Rex Ryan era is coming to town this weekend for what probably will be the final home game of the coach's tenure. If life were a storybook, Ryan and Darrelle Revis still would be together, the mad-scientist coach and the shutdown corner combining their unique talents to disarm opposing offenses.

As we all know, Revis was ripped from Ryan's arms two years ago and now, given the sad state of the New York Jets, it's fashionable to play the blame game: Who ran Revis out of town?

[+] EnlargeDarrelle Revis
Jim Davis/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesThe New York Jets defense was never the same after Darrelle Revis left the team.
Was it owner Woody Johnson? How about Johnson's general manager? John Idzik, the human pinata, gets blamed for everything, so it's easy to throw him under the bus -- except he's not the reason. The person most responsible for the Revis divorce is Revis.

Revis was all about the money, and his refusal to bend in contract negotiations left the Jets with little choice but to trade him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013. He was adamant about a $16 million-a-year deal, and he ended up getting what he wanted from the Bucs, if only for a season. Revis is a terrific businessman, but let's not paint him as the victim in the break-up. For six years, he squeezed as much money out of the Jets as humanly possible -- which is his right -- but it got to a point where the organization got tired of being an ATM.

Johnson, fed up with the contract squabbles, went into the 2013 offseason with a desire to trade his most valuable asset, and he found a GM willing to carry it out. One candidate who interviewed for the GM job, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Johnson made it clear his preference was to deal Revis to the highest bidder. It was a sound business decision. Revis was coming off major knee surgery and wasn't interested in giving the Jets a hometown discount. The Jets, after a 6-10 season, saw him as a bargaining chip to accelerate the rebuilding process.

Truth be told, Idzik did a good job, extracting a first-round pick for an injured player and using the pick to select Sheldon Richardson -- the GM's one shining moment. Where Idzik may have dropped the ball was last offseason, spurning a potential Revis reunion when the player's people reached out as soon as he was released by the Bucs. I didn't criticize Idzik at the time, assuming he had a legitimate fallback plan to restock the cornerback position. Who knew the plan was Dimitri Patterson?

Naturally, Revis ended up with the New England Patriots, making it worse. Still, the Jets felt they made the right call, saying privately they wanted to stay away from one-year rentals and build with long-term players. It sounded reasonable at the time. Now, of course, they look like fools. They're playing with third-string corners, finishing out one of the worst seasons in franchise history, and Revis could be on his way to the Super Bowl.

"I’m over here, that ship has sailed," Revis said Wednesday, responding to a question about whether he could've helped the Jets. "I missed that boat. I caught the New England Patriots boat"

The real loser is Ryan, who hasn't been the same without his best player. He has coached the same number of games with Revis as without him, and the results aren't close.

From 2009 to 2012, Revis played 47 games with the Jets. They went 27-20 with a defense that ranked fifth in points allowed. In the 47 games without Revis, counting games he missed due to pre-trade injuries, Ryan is 18-29 and the defense is 22nd in points allowed.

The Patriots? For a change, they have a real defense.

"He's had a great season," Ryan said of his former star. "He's playing well, there's no question about that."

He'll never say it because he's a good company man, but Ryan wanted a Revis reunion. In his introductory news conference, Ryan called Revis the best corner in football at a time when no one else was making that claim. Ryan knew what he had, a once-in-a-generation talent. Everything changed on that fateful day in Miami, September, 2012, when Revis wrecked his knee in what became his final game as a Jet.

He could've returned, of course, but this is a business. No one knows that better than Revis.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Muhammad Wilkerson could return this week against the New England Patriots.

Wilkerson
Or he could be done for the season.

The New York Jets are being curiously non-committal on Wilkerson's status. He has missed three games with a turf-toe injury and, although he practiced again Wednesday on a limited basis, it's an up-in-the-air situation.

Rex Ryan objected to the notion that Wilkerson might "shut it down," claiming that phrase suggests his star defensive end might not want to play hurt. But the coach acknowledged, "Is there a chance he might not play (for the rest of the season)? I guess there's a chance, but he's not shutting it down. I don't like the way that sounds."

Wilkerson said he suffered a minor setback last week when a teammate stepped on his foot in practice. He acknowledged he's still "a little iffy about people being around me," meaning other players in the trenches. He's on his second specially designed shoe, hoping it provides enough comfort to allow him to play. With only two games left, they're proceeding with caution.

In other injury news, wide receiver Percy Harvin didn't practice because of his sprained ankle, but all signs point to him remaining in the lineup to face the New England Patriots.

That he's able to run is a minor miracle, based on the diagnosis. Ryan revealed that Harvin suffered a third-degree sprain two weeks ago. By definition, a third-degree sprain is a completely torn ligament.

Harvin earned toughness points for playing 37 snaps in last Sunday's win over the Tennessee Titans. Clearly, he wasn't 100 percent (he had no catches), but he reported the ankle feels "a lot better" than it did last week.

The official injury reports:

New York Jets

Did not practice: Harvin.

Limited: Wilkerson, G Willie Colon (knee), S Jaiquawn Jarrett (shoulder).

Full: S Antonio Allen (hand), K Nick Folk (right hip), RB Chris Johnson (knee), C Nick Mangold (finger), S Calvin Pryor (shoulder).

New England Patriots

Out: DE Dominique Easley

Limited: LS Danny Aiken (finger), CB Kyle Arrington (hamstring), RB LeGarrette Blount (shoulder), G Dan Connolly (ankle), WR Julian Edelman (thigh, concussion), T Cameron Fleming (ankle), LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder), DE Chandler Jones (hip), WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder), DE Rob Ninkovich (heel), RB Shane Vereen (ankle), LB Chris White (ankle).

Full: QB Tom Brady (ankle).
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan doesn't regret the "rings" quote.

"Oh, hell, no, because I never came here to do that," he said Wednesday, referring to his classic sound bite from 2009 in which he claimed he didn't take the New York Jets' head-coaching job to kiss Bill Belichick's Super Bowl rings.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
Leon Halip/Getty Images"I came here to kick his butt," Rex Ryan said of Bill Belichick. "Obviously, I haven't been very successful at it, but that list is long."
"I came here to kick his butt," Ryan continued. "Obviously, I haven't been very successful at it, but that list is long. I'm not just the only name on that list. I might be the only one that had the guts to say something about it, but that's how I am. That's how I feel about this week, too. No different than any other time I've been here."

Several players said Ryan was more fired up than usual during the team meeting. The Jets face Belichick and the New England Patriots this week, and that always brings out the bravado in Ryan. He told the players they will approach the game as if they're 11-3, not 3-11.

"We don't like them, they don't like us," wide receiver Jeremy Kerley said. "There's a lot of history there."

When he arrived in 2009, Ryan was hoping to make a different kind of history. His goal was to dethrone the Patriots, and he wasn't shy about telling it to the world. When they stunned the Patriots in the 2010 divisional playoffs, it looked as if the Jets had closed the gap. It hasn't turned out that way.

Under Ryan, the Jets' regular-season record is 3-8 against the Patriots. In the same span, the Miami Dolphins are 3-9 and the Buffalo Bills are 1-10. But the Jets have that playoff win, so Ryan can make the case he's had more success than the others in the division.

But not as much as he wanted.

"I don't think you can just saddle that on me alone," Ryan said. "Hell, I think a lot of teams couldn't knock them off. ... To date, I haven't. I know exactly how I came in. It's how I am every day and every year. Yeah, you want to beat them, without question."

 

Patriots' injury report: Julian Edelman, 11 others limited

December, 17, 2014
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots are dealing with a long list of injuries as they enter the final two weeks of the NFL regular season.

Wide receiver Julian Edelman, who was previously listed with a thigh injury, is now also listed with a concussion. He was a limited participant at Wednesday’s practice.

Another new addition to the injury report is cornerback Kyle Arrington (hamstring). He injured his hamstring against the Dolphins and did not play the rest of the game.

Starting left guard Dan Connolly (neck/ankle) also missed the remainder of the game against the Dolphins after injuring his neck. He was previously dealing with the ankle injury.

Running back LeGarrette Blount (shoulder) and long snapper Danny Aiken (finger) are also new additions to the injury report.

Arrington, Connolly, Blount and Aiken were all limited at Wednesday’s practice.

Defensive end Chandler Jones (hip), rookie offensive lineman Cameron Fleming (ankle), linebacker Dont'a Hightower (shoulder), wide receiver Brandon LaFell (shoulder), defensive end Rob Ninkovich (heel), running back Shane Vereen (ankle) and linebacker Chris White (ankle) all continued to be limited participants, too.

Quarterback Tom Brady (ankle) remains a full participant at practice.

DAVIE, Fla. – To get a sense of the Miami Dolphins' ideal mindset in the final two games, look no further than the credo written on the wall inside the team's locker room.

“I will never accept defeat,” the Dolphins’ credo states in bold letters. “I will never quit.”

We will find out Sunday if the Dolphins (7-7) live up to their year-long motto when they host the Minnesota Vikings (6-8) in a battle of mediocre teams. This game essentially has nothing at stake. Miami still has a small chance for the postseason but was virtually eliminated following back-to-back losses to the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens.

However, Dolphins players insisted that they will fight to the end. They still have a shot to finish with a winning season for the first time since 2008.

“The thing is that winning two games means something, so we take things one game at a time,” Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick said. “So beating Minnesota means something. Beating New York means something. But finishing 9-7 and not getting into the playoffs really doesn't mean anything.”

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill even cited a famous football line from former NFL coach and current ESPN analyst Herm Edwards.

“You play to win the game,” Tannehill said Wednesday.

Joe Philbin, who is 22-24 as Miami’s head coach, finds himself in a challenging spot the next two weeks. Rumors are swirling that Philbin could be coaching his final two games with the Dolphins after potentially missing the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. Philbin is doing his best to block out the noise, but he still must motivate his players to perform well in the final two games.

For players, this serves as an audition. Change is inevitable on a roster when teams are not successful, and Miami will have a lot of decisions to make in the offseason with high-priced veterans and prospective free agents.

Last year, Miami was in the playoff hunt until the final game. This season feels much different because the season essentially ended in Gillette Stadium in Week 15, leaving the team to deal with two uneventful games before wrapping up another disappointing season.

It will be up to leaders such as defensive end Cameron Wake and Tannehill to keep the team focused.

“You play for each other, you play for your team and you play to represent yourself and what you stand for as a person and as a player,” Tannehill said. “I don’t have any problem getting motivation. I love to compete, regardless of if the playoffs are on the line or not.”
Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus topped fan voting among defensive tackles for the 2015 Pro Bowl.

Dareus
Fan voting, which accounts for one-third of the selection process, ended Dec. 15. Final selections, which will be announced Dec. 23 at 8 p.m. ET, will also take into account votes from players and coaches.

Dareus received 331,006 votes, with Chicago Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea (297,826 votes) finishing second at the position.

No other Bills players topped fan voting at their positions for the 2015 Pro Bowl, which will be played Jan. 25 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Last season, Dareus and linebacker Kiko Alonso both topped fan voting at their respective positions but were not initially selected to the Pro Bowl. Dareus was later selected as an alternate.

Patriots preparing for Percy Harvin

December, 17, 2014
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Despite the disparity in their records, the New York Jets are always a good bet to play the New England Patriots tough. The Jets' addition of dynamic wide receiver and kick returner Percy Harvin figures to make things even tougher Sunday for the Patriots.

Harvin
Two days after the Patriots narrowly defeated the Jets 27-25 in Week 7, the Jets landed Harvin via a trade with the Seattle Seahawks. Since, Harvin has served as the team's primary kickoff returner while also adding a versatile element to their offense.

"He's very fast, explosive," Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. "He's done a lot of good things in this league. He's a good football player."

"He poses so many problems," added Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater. "He runs so hard, he runs like he's 240 pounds as far as breaking tackles, but he's got the speed of some of the elite guys in the league. He really poses a lot of problems with his skill set. It's not going to be a one-man effort, it's going to take all 11."

Between his time with the Seahawks and Jets this season, Harvin ranks seventh among returners in the league with 759 return yards, 476 of which have come on 19 attempts with the Jets. While he hasn't converted any kickoffs into a touchdown this season, Harvin has shown an ability to do so in the past, with five return scores on his career resume.

As a receiver, Harvin has hauled in 25 catches for 306 yards in his time with the Jets.

"You can do as best you can to simulate it all week but you won't really have a good feel for it until that first kickoff he brings out of the end zone," Slater said. "I think, with that being said, no one can try to give a Herculean effort. It's got to be everybody doing their job to the man and that's what it's going to take to stop him. It's not going to be one guy."

So far this season, the Patriots are among the league leaders in terms of lowest average kickoff return yardage per attempt (20.9). Given that four of the team's last five games against the Jets have come down to the last possession, special teams will play a critical role Sunday, just as they did in Week 7 with Chris Jones blocking a Jets field-goal attempt in the final seconds to seal with win.

"It'll be huge, especially with Percy there," Slater said. "I think he changes the whole dynamic so we definitely have to be on our P's and Q's and do the best we can to contain him."
The NFL draft is several months away and there are still two weeks of football left to play.

However, it’s not too early to look ahead to the offseason. Earlier this week, we previewed the offensive and defensive free agents. On Wednesday, ESPN's Todd McShay offered his first mock draft.

Here are some thoughts on McShay's selection for Miami:

Selection: No. 16

McShay's pick: Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

McShay's quote: “Thompson is a unique talent with an outstanding combination of size, speed and athleticism, and he could help upgrade Miami at linebacker.”

Analysis: It’s hard to pinpoint Miami’s biggest need at this early stage. But linebacker could be near the top of the list. The Dolphins have decisions to make with high-priced linebackers Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe. Both underachieved and are candidates to become salary-cap casualties. If that’s the case, Thompson could be a possibility. Miami had a nice find in second-year outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins. But the other two positions are open for next season.

Steve Maneri, Garrett Gilbert join Patriots

December, 17, 2014
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There were two new faces in the Patriots’ locker room on Wednesday – tight end Steve Maneri and quarterback Garrett Gilbert.

Maneri, a 6-foot-7, 280-pound former offensive tackle, spent a portion of training camp with the Patriots. Considering his background at a tackle, he is primarily a blocking tight end. Maneri said he does not have practice-squad eligibility, which would indicate that he was signed to the team’s 53-man active roster.

Gilbert, the Rams’ sixth-round pick (214th overall) in the 2014 draft, was released from St. Louis’ practice squad in October. Gilbert has practice-squad eligibility, and it's likely he'll land on the Patriots' practice squad as he practiced with the team Wednesday.

Gilbert played in college at Texas before transferring to SMU, where he had considerably more success than his time with Texas. The addition of Gilbert comes after the the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune reported that the Patriots were trying to sign rookie quarterback David Fales off the Bears’ practice squad, but the Bears promoted Fales to their active roster.

The Patriots have yet to officially announce the roster moves.
DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins began their practice week in preparation for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Here are some notes from Wednesday’s session:
  • Both starting linebackers Koa Misi (hamstring, knee) and Jelani Jenkins (foot) returned to practice. The Dolphins definitely missed their starters in Sunday’s 41-13 loss to the New England Patriots. Misi and Jenkins practicing on Wednesday is a good early sign for Miami. Backup linebacker Jonathan Freeny (hamstring) also is practicing for the first time in four weeks.
  • Dolphins starting right tackle Dallas Thomas did not practice during the portion open to the media. Thomas injured his ankle in Sunday’s game against New England. Backup right tackle Jason Fox would be first in line if Thomas cannot play. Rookie Billy Turner also will get reps during the practice week.
  • Backup running back Daniel Thomas (ankle) also did not practice in portion open to the media. Backup offensive lineman Nate Garner (illness) was not present.

The Dolphins changed their practice schedule this week. They will hold Thursday and Friday sessions partially open to the media.
The Buffalo Bills helped their playoff cause with an an upset win against the Green Bay Packers, but it might not be enough.

Even with a victory Sunday over the Oakland Raiders, the Bills can still be eliminated from postseason contention by Monday night.

In fact, the entire AFC playoff field can be determined by the end of Week 16. Here's how that could happen, per ESPN Stats & Information: Even if the Chargers defeat the 49ers, preventing the Ravens from clinching a spot, it would be bad news for the Bills. The Chargers, with a Week 3 win in Buffalo, hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bills.

Likewise, a Steelers' loss could also have a negative effect on the Bills, as the Chiefs also hold the head-to-head advantage over the Bills.

Patriots-based thoughts from Rex Ryan

December, 17, 2014
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Few coaches, if any, draw as large of a crowd for a conference call as Rex Ryan of the New York Jets. With about 20 reporters gathered around the speakerphone here at Gillette Stadium, Ryan called in for the standard weekly opponent call at 10:45 a.m. ET.

Here are some of the notable topics related to the New England Patriots:

Ryan
Patriots' defense has changed since Oct. 16. Ryan made the point that the Patriots look different defensively from when the teams met Oct. 16. He touched on the Patriots bringing in a "couple big guys" since that point (presumably referring to defensive tackle Alan Branch and defensive end Akeem Ayers) while also pointing out "a lot of different coverages that they haven't played in the past that they're playing now." Asked later about those coverages, Ryan said there are different things a team can do in man coverage and that's what he was referring to.

Thoughts on the Patriots-Jets rivalry. Asked his place in the New England-New York rivalry, Ryan said he had no idea. Then he re-directed, saying, "We all know what's getting ready to happen in this game. We know that both teams give their maximum effort against each other. I don't think each team particularly likes each other. It's on. Regardless of what the record is. We could be playing for first place or whatever, it's the same effort always. It's usually a close game and it's usually a physical game."

More on the Patriots. While Ryan and the Jets don't like the Patriots, there is respect. "They always have it -- six years in a row that they've won the division. You're a little envious, I guess. It's what it is -- they're the ones you chase. We respect them a great deal -- they're led by a Hall of Fame quarterback and a Hall of Fame coach. So they're hard to beat and we recognize that, but that doesn't mean that we'll take our rightful place underneath them. That's not going to happen. We're here to beat them. That's our mentality every time we play them. They're going to get our best shot and we're going to get theirs; we understand that about each other."

Revis
Not going to gush about Revis. The opening question of the conference call was on cornerback Darrelle Revis, with Ryan asked to speak about what he's seen from Revis this season. "No," Ryan answered, before pausing and adding, "I'm just going to go with 'yes' and 'no' answers the whole time. Just kidding." While Ryan lauded Revis, when asked if he was worthy of MVP consideration, Ryan also stopped short of saying too much while citing the possibility of being charged with tampering. "If I comment on him, then I'll get in trouble [for] commenting on somebody else's players. I'll just say he's an excellent player and let the experts figure out where he belongs in the discussion."

How tough this season has been on him. When Ryan was asked how tough the season has been on him given "some of the things swirling about what's going on inside the team," he responded, "Anything that's swirling around inside our team, I'm proud of this team. We've got nothing (in terms of issues). Some guys' reports are probably as far off as any I've ever seen. This team is tight. Our record is the only thing that stinks. We have a great group of guys that care, that prepare, practice hard. It's obviously unfortunate that our record is what it is. But it has nothing to do with the type of character in this room."

Thoughts on competing against Bill Belichick twice a year the last six seasons. Asked how much he's relished matching X's and O's and wits with Belichick, Ryan said, "I don't know how I've fared that way with him, but as a competitor, you like facing the best. That's what he is. Obviously I like doing that, just like any competitor would. I obviously wish I had more success against him, but they do a tremendous job in all phases of the game. They're a really well-coached football team, and his assistant coaches are outstanding as well, and they've been around a long time with him. Obviously, it's a huge challenge. As a competitor, absolutely I enjoy the preparation and the battles against him."

Belichick: Getting ready for Jets' best shot

December, 17, 2014
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Even though the New York Jets are in the cellar of the AFC East with a 3-11 record, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick knows how tough Rex Ryan's teams play against New England.

"It seems like quite a while since we've played the Jets," Belichick said during his news conference on Wednesday. "Jets are playing well, they're a very competitive football team. They're in every game, they've been in a lot of tight games.

[+] EnlargeNew England Patriots and New York Jets
AP Images/Elise AmendolaIn their first meeting this season on Oct. 16, the Patriots slipped past the Jets, 27-25.
"Seems like every game comes down to the last possession kind of like it did with us, like a lot of our games with them have in four of the last five times we've played them."

Flashback to Week 7, when the Patriots beat the Jets by just two points -- a 27-25 victory sealed by defensive lineman Chris Jones' blocked field goal as time expired.

The previous four meetings between these two teams have been decided by three points or less, with two of those games being decided in overtime. The last time a team won by more than three points was on Nov. 22, 2012, when the Patriots beat the Jets, 49-19.

"We'll see how it goes against the Jets," Belichick said. "We've played other teams and different matchups and all that. The Jets are pretty healthy, they had one change on their offensive line but the rest of those guys have all started 14 games. They've had pretty good consistency at tight end. The running backs are very good. The quarterback's a good runner. We'll see whether we can improve against the Jets in the running game. That's what we need to do."

In addition to a strong run game (they rank second in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 147.1), the Jets also stop the run better than most NFL teams as they rank fourth in opponents' rushing yards per game (87.5).

"Defensively strong front, good at stopping the run," Belichick said. "Physical pass rush team, those front seven guys don't come off the field too much. They're used in a lot less nickel and dime than we've ever seen. They try to keep those guys on the field as much as possible so they're a pretty disruptive group."

The Patriots may have locked up the AFC East, but these final two games against the Jets and Bills have major implications as the Patriots are vying for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Considering the history of Ryan's Jets playing the Patriots tightly, Belichick needs his team to play better than in the past.

"This will be a big week for us and I think we need to play better than we did the last time we played them," Belichick said. "I think that will be good enough. Barely was good enough last time but it'd be good enough this time."
Josh Thomas is having a tough week. He has no playbook and, now, no job.

Thomas
Two days after having his playbook stolen from his car in New Jersey, the veteran cornerback was released Tuesday by the New York Jets. No, he wasn't punished for losing possession of his playbook, which is really a computer tablet. It simply made little sense to keep Thomas on the 53-man roster.

He wasn't playing.

In eight games with the Jets, Thomas saw action in only one of them -- 27 defensive snaps against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9. He was inactive for five games and didn't play in two others.

The timing of his release is weird, though. On Monday, Thomas sent out a tweet, asking for the return of his playbook and passport. He notified the Jets, who remotely deleted the material stored on the tablet. Later Monday, Rex Ryan wasn't even aware of the incident when asked about it on a late-afternoon conference call with the media.

Out-of-contention teams like to bring up young players from the practice squad, and the Jets have done that with safety Rontez Miles, signing him to replace Thomas. That's the reason Thomas was handed a pink slip, not because his playbook ended up with a crook.

Naturally, it spawned the obvious joke. When players are released, they're often asked to bring their playbook to the coach's office. In Thomas' case, it might have to come from the police.
As everybody knows, the New York Jets slid to sixth in the current NFL draft order by defeating the Tennessee Titans. If they lose another, the Jets will clinch a top-6 pick.

Can they get higher by losing the final two? Maybe not. If the teams ahead of them lose out, removing Thursday night's Titans-Jacksonville Jaguars game from that equation, the Jets still could finish in the sixth spot based on the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker.

Imagine suffering through a 3-13 season and landing only the sixth pick. The Jets have virtually zero chance of getting the top pick; they blew that chance by beating the Titans.

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