Jets could face another resting team in the Bengals
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By J.P. Pelzman
The Record (Hackensack N.J.)
Longtime Jets' fans like to talk about how tortured their franchise is. (You know who you are, folks.)
But the facts say something quite different. Consider that in this decade, the Jets have had a chance at a playoff berth six previous times entering the final day of the regular season.
On four of six of those occasions, they converted, whether by their own doing, their own doing and some help or simply backing in because of other results.
And it's possible they could win their way in on their seventh try when the Jets (8-7) host AFC North champion Cincinnati (10-5) at 8:20 EST on Sunday night in the final game at Giants Stadium. Win, and the Jets are in. Lose and they are out.
Much like the tanking Colts, who felt that making history as an undefeated team was unimportant, the Bengals have very little to play for Sunday. Only their playoff seed, No. 3 or 4, remains in doubt. But they are guaranteed to host a first-round contest.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis said Monday he wouldn't be surprised if the Bengals play the game the way the Colts did — in other words, resting people instead of playing to win the game. (By the way, wonder what former Jets coach Herm Edwards thinks of all this?)
"It's probably going to be the same situation," Revis said. "We can't control what they do; we only can control what we do. We are just trying to get this win and go to the playoffs. I've never been to the playoffs. Getting this win on Sunday would be a good treat for me and a lot of people in this locker room."
When the Bengals made their last playoff appearance in 2005, Cincinnati was locked into hosting a first-round playoff game before the regular-season finale. Coach Marvin Lewis, a close friend of Rex Ryan from their days in Baltimore, pulled Carson Palmer after the first quarter because he was nursing a slight groin injury. Backup Jon Kitna threw two interceptions in a 37-3 loss to playoff contender Kansas City, which missed out on the postseason because of other results.
Lewis, much like Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell last week, didn't shed any light on his plans Monday, although he admitted earlier results in the day games "could" affect his thinking.
Just as he did with Caldwell last week, Ryan made his advice clear and very public. Take it easy was his message.
"If it's me, I don't play (Palmer) or any other starter," Ryan said. "That's just me. I'm throwing it out there."
That's fine, but it kind of contradicts what he also said Monday, when he complained that the Jets weren't getting enough credit for their win over the tanking Colts.
"Our team wasn't rolling over for anybody," Ryan said, "and neither were the Colts."
That's debatable. Just ask the booing fans at Lucas Oil Stadium what they thought.
"They were trying to win," Ryan said. "Granted, it wasn't with some of their players."
Yeah, such as Peyton Manning, who entered the day with more NFL MVP trophies (three) than NFL pass attempts (zero) by his replacement, untested rookie Curtis Painter.
But the Jets aren't concerned about other team's motivations, nor they should be. They just want a chance to get into the Super Bowl tournament.
"For us to have an opportunity to even get in the playoffs at this point in the season says a lot about our coaching staff," running back Thomas Jones said, adding that it "says a lot about Rex and the commitment that they have to us. It says a lot about the character of our team and guys not giving up."
It's only the Jets' opponents that seem to be giving up.
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