Are the Jets a low-key Wild Card threat?

New York Jets

The New York Jets may be just 1-4, but the return of quarterback Sam Darnold and a pillow-soft upcoming schedule could make them a sneaky Wild Card threat in the underwhelming AFC.

The panic is over in New York after the Jets finally joined the season with a 24-22 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Quarterback Sam Darnold made his triumphant return from mono and didn’t miss a beat, completing 23 of 32 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns, including a 92-yard strike to Robby Anderson in the second quarter.

The Jets struggled mightily while Darnold was out, with Luke Falk failing to even resemble an NFL quarterback for the past few weeks. But Adam Gase’s unit showed some innovation and potential against the Cowboys on Sunday. Running back Le’Veon Bell wasn’t even that heavily involved, although he did record a touchdown, so it’s a safe bet that Gase will find ways to get the talented back the football more in the coming weeks.

The other key to the Jets’ win was their defense, which did a good job harassing Dak Prescott on Sunday, hitting him nine times and limiting Ezekiel Elliott early. Coordinator Gregg Williams has gotten a ton out of a unit that has no pure edge rusher, questions at corner and has been without star linebacker C.J. Mosley since the end of Week 1.

Mosley could be back for the Jets as soon as this week against the Patriots, and even if they don’t find a way to pull off the upset the Jets could still find themselves in the mix for a playoff spot. The AFC is extremely weak outside of the Patriots, and the Jets are rounding into form as they enter an extremely soft portion of their schedule.

After the Jets wrap up their game with the Patriots on Monday, here is what they have coming up:

  • at Jaguars (2-4)
  • at Dolphins (0-5)
  • vs. Giants (2-4)
  • at Redskins (1-5)
  • vs. Raiders (3-2)
  • at Bengals (0-6)
  • vs. Dolphins (0-5)

That is a seven-game stretch where the Jets play one team with a winning record, and that is the 3-2 Raiders. If the Jets could find a way to steal Monday’s game against the Pats, they can make hay on this portion of the schedule, perhaps even getting themselves into a Wild Card position for the stretch run, which features trips to Baltimore and Buffalo sandwiched around a home date with the Steelers.

Next: NFL’s best bets for Week 7

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