A green postseason?

Could the Jets actually make the playoffs?

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(Total votes: 4,765)

YES
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AS GOOD AS ANYONE

Ehalt By Matt Ehalt
ESPN.com
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In the AFC, and the NFL for that matter, there's Denver and everyone else.

And that's why the Jets can make the playoffs this season.

The AFC has been very top-heavy, with Denver, plus Kansas City and Indianapolis, standing out through five weeks. Other than those three, the conference isn't looking as if it's composed of world-beaters. This gives the Jets hope that they can be in the mix until the very end.

Even within the AFC East, New England looks as vulnerable as it has in quite some time, and Miami has crashed back to earth after its 3-0 start. Buffalo has struggled and will be without its starting quarterback. For the first time in a while, it's fair to think New England might have some competition.

On the field, the Jets will have a puncher's chance due to their stout defense. You can criticize coach Rex Ryan for his handling of the offense, but give him this -- he can sure coach a defense. The names may change, but Ryan's unit is stout each year. The Jets are second in yards allowed per game.

With a defense like that, the Jets will have a chance to pull out every game. They're not going to need QB Geno Smith to score 30 points a game. He's going to have a chance to win games by scoring 17-20 points, and that's huge for a rookie. It takes the pressure off Smith; he doesn't have to be the hero each week.

If the Jets manage to survive their upcoming gauntlet of the Steelers, Patriots, Bengals and Saints, the second half of the schedule eases up. In the final five weeks, they face the Dolphins (twice), Raiders, Panthers and Browns. The Jets enter Sunday's game with a record at least as good as all those teams.

It may not have seemed possible before the season, but after five weeks, the New York Jets can make the playoffs.

Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com

IT'LL GET MUCH TOUGHER

Mazzeo By Mike Mazzeo
ESPN.com
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The Jets, who got no respect from prognosticators in the offseason, are 3-2 and coming off an impressive road victory over the Falcons.

So, naturally, the inclination is to wonder whether they actually have a chance to make the playoffs. And while it would be foolish to write them off completely, its very unlikely.

Yes, coach Rex Ryans defense has been terrific. Yes, QB Geno Smith just had himself an unforgettable night. And yes, the running game has been better than expected.

But as my colleague Rich Cimini pointed out in a recent blog, the Jets still havent won two games in a row yet and face New England (4-1), Cincinnati (three-game win streak) and New Orleans (5-0) after taking on winless Pittsburgh (0-4) on Sunday. Who exactly have the Jets beaten this season? They've beaten fairly weak teams -- Tampa Bay (0-4), Buffalo (2-3) and Atlanta (1-4).

Lets be honest here. There are a lot of reasons for optimism, but there are still 11 games left. As Cimini said, if the Jets are, say, 5-4 heading into their bye week, then this becomes a very legitimate discussion about a very surprising football team.

For now, though, the Jets should just be focused on trying to take care of the Steelers, and they should hope that their rookie QB stays turnover-free and their defense continues to make big plays.

Here are the teams that are likely to be vying with the Jets for a playoff spot: Kansas City (5-0), Tennessee (3-2, walloped Gang Green), Miami (3-2), Cleveland (3-2), the Bengals (3-2) and Houston (2-3, must get its act together).

Again, its still early. And if you figure the Chiefs are playoff-bound, the Jets would have to finish with a better record than those five other teams.

Not impossible. Just unlikely.

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com

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