"Nobody wants to hear it, but who cares? That's really how we feel. That's our mentality. Whether you like it or not, that's our mentality." Those were the words of New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan when addressing the media on Thursday, backing up cornerback Antonio Cromartie's claim on NFL AM this week that the Jets "will make the playoffs this year."
You got it, Rex, nobody wants to hear it.
Whether he's predicting Super Bowl wins, pontificating on the Patriots or simply discussing the playoffs at midseason, Ryan can't keep quiet and his team can't help but follow suit.
Like most level headed sports fans, I'm all for confidence, regardless from which team it emanates as everyone needs belief and Pete Carroll would stand near the front of any queue giving out free passes for inner conviction, but the Jets are an irksome lot or, as we'd call them here in London, a bunch of oiks. Man, I really hope we destroy them on Sunday.
Even as the end of the week approached, there was no let up in this one sided verbal jousting as Muhammad Wilkerson, speaking on WFAN in New York, opined some on Russell Wilson, saying "we're going to get this guy rattled. He's a rookie so he's not as experienced as somebody like Tom Brady. We've got to just get after him. Get hits on him and try and put pressure on him and get him uncomfortable. You just gotta make him feel uncomfortable."
I wish I could take credit for what I'm about to write, but Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio got there first and it's the perfect riposte to Wilkerson's bluster: The kid doesn't get rattled.
Wilson doesn't get rattled and especially not at the CLink. I'll look at the spread a little further down, but as Wilson is currently the centre of this piece, let's see what the Jets are up against this week. What they're up against is the leading quarterback in the NFL at home, at least as far as quarterback rating goes. Among the top ten in that list, Wilson's (home) 747 passing yards ranks ninth, but his QB rating of 120.2 tops the lot; Peyton Manning, who's on for a phenomenal season, sits second (115.3).
As tired as I am of Rexy baby, I will, in fairness to him, address a view he's voiced on Wilson this week, a view that sheds some light on Wilkerson's words, exposing them for the hollow prognostication it ultimately is.
During a conference call with Seattle reporters, Ryan gave us this: "This young man, Russell Wilson, I saw something that blew me away, which was a 154.0 quarterback rating over the last five games on third down. That is ridiculous and pretty impressive."
Rex, I love you all over again.
If Ryan's defense really is to get Wilson rattled, then they'll probably need an interception or two along the way and, should that happen, it'll buck one trend. Wilson's thrown eight picks on the season, all of them on the road. His 9-0 TD-INT ratio at home this season is ridiculous and pretty impressive. Impressive, naturally, for a rookie quarterback on a team currently ranked *dead last in the league in passing offense and ridiculous bearing in mind the red flags (still?) surrounding him due to his height, or lack thereof.
He won't be able to see over his offensive line. Turns out he can.
He'll have balls batted down by the defensive line. Manning and Brady suffer the same fate sometimes. Damn those defenses.
*Wilson's 9 TD's at home is only one less than Matt Ryan and Tom Brady combined on home turf. Ridiculous. Pretty impressive.
The Jets have seven interceptions on the season (tied for 17th in the league), but only one of those came on the road, in Miami in Week 3 when LaRon Landry picked off Ryan Tannehill. As much as that makes pleasant reading for those of us of a Seahawk persuasion, it's important to remember that the Jets do boast the NFL's sixth ranked pass defense, giving up only 205.6 yards per game through the air and that Cromartie, if not quite an elite corner, is one of the league's best.
The NFL's done what they can for the Jets, giving them a bye week before their longest trip of the season and if the playoffs are at the forefront of the team's thoughts, then their playoff run begins here because they can barely afford to lose many more games and probably only two. I use playoff run loosely as they don't need to win every game, but if they do lose in Seattle, then their remaining schedule is pretty favourable, bar the visit of Belichick and Brady in two weeks.
They can, feasibly, beat the Rams (road), Cardinals (home), Jaguars (road), Titans (road), Chargers (home) and Bills (road). I won't say they'll lose this week, but 3-5 could become 9-7 at season's end and they'll need at least that as they're currently two-and-a-half games and two games behind the Colts and Steelers respectively in the AFC wild card race and considering that Pittsburgh hosts Kansas City this week, the Jets could be three games behind both teams with over half the season behind them. This is arguably must win for them.
Seattle sits a little more comfortably in its own conference's wild card picture and holds the number six seed, but that isn't taking into account that Tampa Bay has played a game less and sits 4-4, second in the NFC South, and is a team finding its groove somewhat.
If this is must win for the Jets, then the Seahawks need the W equally as badly, if only to stay one step ahead of the aforementioned Bucs. More worrying than that is what comes immediately after next week's bye, road games in Miami and Chicago, which of course equates to a 10 a.m. PT kickoff on consecutive weeks.
Dare I look ahead to Seattle with a 6-6 record? It is tempting considering their 1-4 record on the road this season, but they were in every one of those losses until the very end. The Dolphins and Bears will be confident of adding to their own W column but, as heartbreaking as each defeat was, I'm inclined to believe that they may ultimately prove to be addition by subtraction. There isn't any aspect of his game that Wilson doesn't look to improve upon and his mental aptitude will have been improved after each loss and it's this that makes the Seahawks more dangerous on the road than a 1-4 record would imply.
I'm not overly apprehensive about what looms after the bye week despite my opening to the previous paragraph, it's merely a pragmatic outlook, which seems to come with the territory of following the Seahawks.
I have Seattle pegged as a touchdown favourite this week, but they are available -5.5. However, generally they're 6 point favourites and for those looking at the Jets as value, the best line available on them is +6.5.
As we're all well aware, the Seahawks are 4-0 SU at home and 4-0 ATS at home, covering for the first time this season as a home favourite (-4) over the Vikings last week. They're now 1-2 ATS as the favourite and if that doesn't fill you with confidence then neither will the Jets being 5-3 ATS this year. However, a closer look tells you that they're 2-2 ATS as an underdog and 1-1 ATS as a road underdog.
Which way to lay your hard earned this week? My heart wants to say that we'll smash the Jets out of sight, but my head says otherwise, but I'm kinda missing smashing teams out of sight.
The Jets enter this one having lost four of their last five and three of those losses came at home so what gives them any legitimate chance in Seattle this week, the most intimidating stadium in the NFL? Come to think of it, why wouldn't we smash the Jets out of sight?
Mark Sanchez presides over a passing offense that ranks 26th in the league and you have to believe that he'd have prepared for this one more meticulously than most; he's had the requisite amount of time anyway and would've needed it. The Seahawks rank seventh against the pass and Sanchez's tally of three touchdowns away from MetLife Stadium will have the home secondary licking their chops. He's there for the taking and the 12th Man won't need educating on that score either.
Wilson may not throw for three touchdowns as he did against New England and Minnesota, but one certainty looks to be that the Seahawks should have little problem running the ball. The Jets are allowing 141.4 rushing yards per game and they will hope that LILB Bart Scott can play. However, his chances of doing so hang in the balance as of Saturday morning.
Marshawn Lynch looks primed for a big day and should matters transpire as we hope, Robert Turbin should be able to pick up the slack late on and Wilson can enjoy his afternoon, all the while evading being rattled.
This is one the Seahawks really should win and need to win. The motivation is there, the talent is there and the 12th Man is most definitely there. Seattle to cover.
Due to an extraordinarily busy week, I'm unable to post my look at the spreads around the league and this will be for the second week running so my apologies for that. My record ATS stands at 17-13 after going 2-1 last week, including the Seahawks -4, which wasn't a popular pick among those who bet. I plain didn't get that and I'll include Seattle (-5.5) again this week.
There's some real tasty matchups this week and one of the biggest is in New Orleans, whom I take +2.5 to upset the unbeaten Falcons in the Superdome.
Tampa Bay looks too hot to ignore -3 at home to San Diego, simply because the memory of the Chargers in Cleveland two weeks ago is scarily recent.
Houston's receiving the start for the first time this season and their matchup with the Bears in Chicago is the obvious game of the week. I have to back them with the 1.5 on offer.
Please gamble responsibly.
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