Last week the Jets beat a Pittsburgh team that had already clinched a playoff spot. This week, they travel to the league’s first team to clinch its division.
If the Jets win in Chicago, they’re in the playoffs. And beating the Bears might be a sight easier than their 22-17 win over the well-balanced Steelers last week.
Oh, don’t let the 10-4 record or that 40-14 Monday night win over Minnesota fool you. These are not the ’85 Bears. As the Giants showed in Week 3, Chicago is eminently beatable.
Start with the offense. Well, the Bears really don’t have much of an offense. What they do have is Jay Cutler, an ethereal entity capable of throwing three touchdown passes, as he did against the Vikings, or four interceptions, as he did in an Oct. 24 loss to Washington. So far, he’s done fairly well managing games, but the overall production has left the Bears’ offense ranked 30th overall.
Besides, the most aggressive defense he’ll have faced before the Jets’ blitz-heavy unit was the Giants’, and they knocked him out of that game.
And the ground game behind Matt Forte has unimpressively averaged just under 100 yards per game.
Chicago's forte is defense and special teams. Its four-man pass rush, led by one of the league’s most potent defensive end combinations in Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije, has created enough pressure to force quarterbacks into 19 interceptions, the third-highest total in the league. And, of course, kick returner extraordinaire Devin Hester just set the all-time record for return touchdowns with his 14th on Monday.
Still, the Bears have feasted on inferior competition, having beaten only two teams — the Packers and Eagles — with winning records. The road to the playoffs may be easier than the Jets think.