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Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Midseason Stock Watch: Jets

By Tim Graham

Power Rankings: Preseason: No. 7. This week: No. 5.

LaDainian Tomlinson
LaDainian Tomlinson has been a pleasant surprise for the Jets.
2010 schedule/results

Where they stand: Jets head coach Rex Ryan frequently says his goal is to lead the league in wins. The Jets are on their way. They and five other teams are tied for the NFL's best record at 6-2. The Jets are atop the AFC East (for now) by virtue of their Week 2 victory over the New England Patriots, who have the same record. The Jets rank 12th in total offense, 13th in points per game, sixth in total defense and third in scoring defense.

Falling: New York's pass defense has been significantly less intimidating than it was last year. The ability to match Antonio Cromartie on the opposition's best wideout was wonderful while Darrelle Revis was hobbled. But the overall effect with Revis gimping about -- or sidelined completely -- was a secondary that looked much closer to ordinary than Jets fans would prefer. Nickel corner has been a concern. Rookie Kyle Wilson lost his job to Drew Coleman. Both have been blistered.

Another perceived strength heading into the season was depth at receiver once Santonio Holmes served his four-game suspension. A bad case of the dropsies plagued the Jets in a Week 8 loss to the Green Bay Packers, with the normally sure-handed Jerricho Cotchery bumbling the most.

Rising: Swagger is in high supply for the Jets. They easily could be winless in their past three games, but they found ways to salvage victories in Weeks 6 and 9. To an outsider, they got incredibly lucky with late comebacks over the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions, but in the Jets' locker room, they're feeling invincible. A talented team with that kind of surging confidence is dangerous.

Young quarterback Mark Sanchez continues to impress despite his low completion percentage. His arm is erratic. He's still prone to mental mistakes. But he also has that inexplicable knack for the clutch play. Sanchez has slashed those pathetic turnover numbers from his rookie season. The consistent presence of tight end Dustin Keller (30 receptions for 447 yards and five touchdowns) in the game plan has been a boon.

Midseason MVP: LaDainian Tomlinson wasn't supposed to have anything left. The Jets' decision to let Thomas Jones go and bring in Tomlinson was met with skepticism, but the front office has been proved wise. Tomlinson is on pace to rush for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns and 60 catches for 382 yards. Not bad for a retread.

Outlook: The Jets have a minefield schedule ahead. They must make their second tour through the AFC East in addition to games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears and Houston Texans. The Jets, however, are in good shape because they're talented, deep and already have six wins in the bank. They would have to implode to miss the playoffs.