Rex Ryan's team is in a precarious position and might have to win out to qualify for the postseason. But in Ryan's mind, it's possible.
"Our playoffs start right now," Ryan declared during a Friday morning conference call, in the wake of a stunning 17-13 loss at Denver that dropped the Jets to 5-5.
"We have to beat Buffalo [next Sunday]. I don't see any breathing room. We've already used that up. We have to get right back at it. I know this team wants to be in the playoffs. This team is working hard -- as hard as any team I've been with. I believe in every player, I believe in every coach, and I think we'll get better. I really believe that."
Right now, the Jets don't look anything like a team with championship aspirations. They were waxed in a statement game by their AFC East rivals, the New England Patriots, last Sunday night, which prompted Ryan to apologize to Jets fans.
Four days later, they allowed Tim Tebow and the Broncos to drive 95 yards and beat them in the final minute.
In the conference playoff standings, the Jets are tied for ninth, but Denver holds the tiebreaker by virtue of its victory over Gang Green on Thursday night. Still, there is plenty of time left. And the Jets' remaining schedule is quite favorable.
The Jets' six opponents the rest of the way have a combined .426 winning percentage (23-31), and only two of the six have winning records -- the Bills (5-4) and Giants (6-3).
Of course, games aren't played on paper. And there's still a lot that needs to be rectified.
The Jets struggled in every phase of the game on Thursday night: Mark Sanchez threw his third pick-six of the season, the running game averaged three yards per carry, the offensive line was inconsistent, T.J. Conley shanked a punt 13 yards and Joe McKnight lost a fumble on a kickoff return.
Even the defense, which was so stout for the first 54 minutes and change, couldn't close.
"We have to become more consistent and we have to eliminate those mistakes, and that's my responsibility as a head coach," Ryan said. "I'm looking forward to the preparation and everything else because I think we can get better. I don't think there's any doubt. We have a resilient team. And we're gonna be in this thing. We're gonna be shoulder to shoulder with coaches and players and try to find a way to get this done."
In Ryan's first season with the Jets, the team got off to a 4-6 start. But the Jets rallied together and won five of their last six games to sneak in as a wild card.
Here's their chance to do it again.
"We all have to get better. There's no doubt. We all have to get better," Ryan said. "Again, I'm confident that our group, this group wants it in the worst way, and it's a resilient group. We've done it before, and we just have to do it again."