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Keeping Up With The Joneses
By Chris Pine
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
September 18th, 2004
The Jets defense is lilkely having nightmares this week and LT is the main reason. (AP Photo)
The Jets defense is lilkely having nightmares this week and LT is the main reason. (AP Photo)
The New England Patriots. Even to utter the name of that most wretched team elicits great anger and hatred amongst Jets fans. The image of Bill Belichick accepting the Lombardi Trophy still burns within all of our minds. Watching coaches and player who were at one time Jets’ personnel getting their fingers sized for championship rings turns our collective stomachs. Yet, the key to winning the AFC East Division this year resides solely on the Jets ability to match the Pats win for win.

On a side note: Where exactly did the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” come from? I remember as a kid thinking it had something to do with “Raiders of the Lost” but, I have since realized that it has been around much longer than those Lucas-Spielberg gems. Who are the original Joneses? Where are they going? Why do they set the trends? I digress.

Now the main problem for the Jets concerning the Patriots is that the Pats win, they always win. Even when they shouldn’t, they win. Like all great teams throughout history they survive on a combination of occasional spectacular individual play, poor performances by their opponents, and luck. Take last weeks game for example: The Colts threw the game. They fumbled away two potential touchdowns and Peyton Manning was intercepted once; all three turnovers occurring in the Redzone. Yet that wasn’t the worst of it: on the final drive of the game the Colts seemed guaranteed to tie it all up and send the contest to overtime, but Wille McGinest was able to sack Manning for a huge loss, forcing a very long field goal attempt for Mike Vanderjagt.

Now the Colts have their own problems, one of them being that they are too talented for their own good. They made every mistake possible and were still in position to win or at least tie the game. Any other team probably wouldn’t even get the chance to screw up four times in one game. Until the Colts start playing a little more fundamentally sound football and pay attention to all of the little details that help a team win, then they will rely solely on their talent and probably always fall short in the big game.

But this isn’t about the Colts and their short-comings. This is about the Patriots and how they win games. How a very unimpressive Tom Brady can become one of the best quarterbacks in the league. How a defense of mostly uninspiring names can become like a vice in the most important games, and lastly, how a coach with the worst elocution skills can dissect and befuddle almost any offense.

Now why should I focus on the Patriots and not what the Jets have to do this season? Well, because I believe everything is lined up for the Jets to make a serious run at the division title. They have a fairly easy schedule. Their offense appears to have the ability to become explosive. They seem to posses a few game breakers on defense. Last, but not least; they have a very talented and motivated leader in Chad Pennington. This team has the ability to win a lot of games this year. The question though, is can they win enough to secure first place in the division?

Now, there may be people who think that they should only worry about getting into the playoffs. I can not stress how erroneous of a mindset that is. Historically, any team that just barely makes it into the playoffs, get shown the door the quickest. This team has to embrace the goal of winning it all, and so do their fans. Settling for less would be a crime. And the Jets can win it all, as long as they keep up with the Patriots.

Now, of course the Jets have to take care of business this Sunday against San Diego, which they should. Although The Chargers have one of the games best running backs in LaDainian Tomlinson, the Jets are still the better team. When these teams met last the Jets handed out a 44-13 drubbing of the Chargers, and since then the Jets have become a better and more talented team, whereas San Diego has taken a step backwards. If the Jets can replicate that performance even slightly they should win the game.

Unfortunately, the Patriots will no doubt make quick work of the Arizona Cardinals. Hopefully the Jets can keep up their end of the bargain. If not, then they may be looking up at New England all year.

Now as far as last weeks picks are concerned all I can say is “pffft!” Both my mother and I are a very underwhelming 1-2. The Panthers and Colts both choked away my chance to get a leg up this year, so hopefully this week I can get on the right track. It doesn’t help that I chose some pretty tough games to pick this week.

Game 1: Indianapolis at Tennessee: This is another case of wanting to pick against a quarterback I have learned in the past not to bet against. I made that mistake last week going against “Fav-rah”. The only thing I have going for me is that this is now a big game on the road for Payton Manning, and we all know how well he does in those games. Add to that my man-crush on Steve McNair (the best quarterback in the league) and my chose is an easy one. My pick: the Titans

My mother on the other hand has vaguely heard of Peyton Manning and knows about the Indy 500. Mom’s pick: the Colts.

Game 2: Minnesota at Philadelphia: Although I hate to buy into the hype, and I have to keep in mind that the Eagles did beat up on the lowly Giants, they look good. They look really good. I don’t know if they are the best team in the NFC but Philly is definitely up there. The McNabb to Owens connection seems to be a serious one. We may be in for many more bicep flexes, autographs, back-flips, and tom foolery from the big T.O. My pick: the Eagles.

Me: Minnesota Vikings or Philadelphia Eagles?
Mom: Who does Deon Sanders play for?
Me: The Ravens.
Mom: Oh, ok: then the Vikings. I like that name.
Me: Do you even know what color the Vikings Jerseys are?
Mom: No. Blue?

If I lose this season to my mother I may have to hang myself. Mom’s pick: the Vikings

Game 3: Carolina at Kansas City: Both teams suffered pretty tough losses last week, in more ways than one. With the injury to Steve Smith, who will probably be out for a good chunk of the season, it puts the Panther (and my fantasy teams) receiving corps in a bit of disarray. This game may just come down to who can chew up more yards; Steven Davis or Priest Holmes, ‘nuff said. My pick: the Chiefs.

My mother on the other hand has quickly lost her faith in Carolina. Since the Panthers failed to win for her the first time she picked them she has decided to go against them. I guess as the saying goes, “Hell hath no fury…” Mom’s pick: The Chiefs.

Since I also survived week one I can still pick in this week’s suicide pool. It pains me to say it but I have to go with the Patriots over the Cardinals. Which I guess is a working definition of irony. Damn those Pats.