FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez can do the math. While saying he wasn't conceding the AFC East title, Sanchez echoed Rex Ryan in pretty much doing that Tuesday when he said "the writing's on the wall" for the Jets to be battling for a wild-card spot down the stretch.

"If you're going to grade us at this point, we're 5-4," Sanchez said. "Have we done the wild-card route before? Absolutely. Is there anyone who knows how to do it better? I don't think so. So if we get some help from other teams and we end up winning the division, great. But that's big-picture stuff. We're focused on Thursday and we'll see how we do."

The Jets put the finishing touches on their short-week preparation for Thursday night's game against the Broncos in Denver. Sanchez, who did not play well in the 37-16 loss to the Patriots on Sunday, said the team is doing its best to put the disappointing game behind them.

"I wish we were playing today," Sanchez said. "I wish we had played yesterday. Just to get it over with and move on."

After dropping their second game of the season to New England (6-3), the Jets know they are really two games behind the Patriots. (The Bills are also 5-4.)

The preseason goal of a division crown and home playoff games apparently has been put on the shelf, at least for now.

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"I mean, we're obviously going to need some help in the division," Sanchez said. "We're not in the driver's seat like we could have been. If that's what happens, that's what happens. That's big-picture stuff for the coaches and management to think about."

Even so, Sanchez must have been thinking about the big-picture stuff a little since he went through several wild-card scenarios Tuesday even though he wasn't asked about them.

"These next seven games -- it's not a one-game season -- these next seven games are huge," he said.

"A lot of AFC opponents. This is big because a lot of these AFC opponents will carry over to that wild-card spot, whether it's somebody in the AFC West, the Titans or Houston or the Raiders or the Chargers. Being involved with it in the last couple of years you can kind of see the writing's on the wall. It's going to be us and maybe somebody from the North fighting for that wild-card spot, so these next seven games are huge. We've got to win this. And it starts Thursday."

There was one more piece of business left over from Sunday that Sanchez addressed: The timeout he called near the end of the first half that Ryan called "the stupidest thing in NFL history" because it gave Tom Brady more time to lead the Patriots to a go-ahead touchdown.

"That's a stupid play," Sanchez said. "He's dead-on. I've got to know the situation whether I heard something in the headset or not. I need to know that situation. You're not playing against a rookie quarterback, you're playing against Tom Brady. So even 30 extra seconds or whatever it was on the clock is inexcusable. That's on me."

Asked if he was stung by Ryan's comment, which he made to a national audience on NBC, Sanchez said: "If something like that's going to get under my skin, then I'm in the wrong line of work. That's on the quarterback. I've got to be better than that."