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Friday, February 7, 2014
Trending up: New York Jets

By Rich Cimini

If a team doesn't make the playoffs, it usually means gloom and doom. In 2013, there were eight non-playoff teams -- identified by a survey of NFL Nation correspondents -- that are deemed to be trending upward. The optimism caught our eye, so we decided to rank them and explain why they're not in gloom-and-doom situations.

One of them is the New York Jets -- a no-brainer.

The Jets went from 6-10 to 8-8, winning three of the last four games to save Rex Ryan's job. They have 10 returning starters on defense, led by a defensive-minded coach who knows his stuff.

Quarterback Geno Smith has 16 starts on his NFL résumé, managing to win eight games despite inconsistent play and a lack of weapons around him. With more than $30 million in anticipated cap room, and anywhere from eight to 10 draft picks (counting likely compensatory selections), the Jets have the means to add playmakers on offense. They should be able to find an upgrade at every position they deem necessary. A second season in Marty Mornhinweg's system will help. If Smith can continue to develop, the Jets have a chance to be a 10-win team.