For all of the pessimism surrounding the Jets over the last few weeks, it's hard to look at their schedule without noticing how well things set up for them over the final five weeks of the season.
The Cardinals, Jaguars, Titans, Chargers and Bills are not among the best teams in the league and none of them are clearly better than a Jets team trying to rebound from 4-6 to make the playoffs for the second time in the last four years. Some of those teams likely look at the Jets as a reason to hope for a win of their own, but it is fair to say that the Jets will be the favorites in each of those games.
They won't be the favorite on Thursday night, though, and that's the biggest reason why those five games are fool's gold right now. Lose to the Patriots on Thanksgiving and it doesn't matter if they were set to play the team that gave up 138 points to a single player in a college basketball game on Tuesday night.
Looking back at the previous meeting between the teams, a 29-26 overtime loss in Foxborough in Week Seven, provides some hope. It was a strong offensive game for the Jets, especially for Mark Sanchez, and the game would probably have gone down as a win if Stephen Hill was able to reel in a pass late in the fourth quarter.
That drop illustrates the biggest reason to doubt the Jets' chances of pulling off the win. Against the Rams or Colts or any of the other teams the Jets have beaten this year, you can make a mistake or three and overcome them because the opposition isn't good enough to take advantage.
You can't win that way against the Patriots. Each of the big Jets mistakes in that earlier game -- Hill's drop, three Sanchez turnovers, poor kickoff coverage -- either cost them points or handed points to the Patriots.
The sum total was enough to sink the ship and there's no reason to think that the Jets can play the flawless game that they'll need to win. You can draw up a blueprint of Sanchez continuing last week's good play, Shonn Greene running hard and Rex Ryan outthinking Bill Belichick when the Jets are on defense, but executing it is going to be the hard part for the Jets.
It would be one thing if you felt the Jets could go out and play with nothing to lose, a mindset that could get them into a shootout where it becomes anyone's game in the final minutes. The Jets can't go that route, not without losing 45-10, and they have to instead walk the tightrope that requires near perfection to get a win to go with their turkey.
If they do, everything sets up for an exciting end run to the season. If not, that late schedule will go down as another missed opportunity on the long list of missed Jets opportunities.