Pretend you are you, only seven months younger, when we all were more innocent — and comically misguided.
The Mets were World Series contenders. The Yankees were a rebuilding team full of young hopefuls, including Aaron Judge, who mostly was hoping to find a spot on the Opening Day roster.
The Giants were Super Bowl contenders. The Jets were a rebuilding team full of young hopefuls, whose most popular player was a guy who inconveniently still is playing at Southern Cal.
Now here we are, older and wiser, and reminded once again that you can’t predict baseball — or football — Suzyn.
By winning three games in a row, the Jets have saved football season around here, for now at least, and pending the Yankees’ fortunes in the ALDS soon could be the unquestioned stars of our sports show.
They certainly will be in the spotlight on Sunday, when they host the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, one of two teams with which they are tied for first place in the AFC East.
Logic and bookmakers suggest the Jets’ improbable early success ends here, with a thud. Maybe. But the players who spoke about the showdown after Sunday’s 17-14 victory over the Browns hardly seemed intimidated.
(Brief aside: Three weeks ago, many expected the Jets to finish 0-16. Now another victory seemed so ho-hum on Sunday that reporters asked players as many questions about the Patriots as the Browns in the visiting locker room.)
“Like every game in the NFL, it’s going to be a dogfight,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “We’re not going to lay down, and we know they’re not going to lay down, so it’s going to be a big clash.”
Said quarterback Josh McCown: “You cannot ask for anything else than to be 3-2 and to go against 3-2 New England in a head-to-head matchup. This is what it’s about. This is why you play the game.”
As excited as they are, credit the Jets with being realistic. No one is under any illusion that how they played against the Browns will suffice Sunday. Let’s just say that Tom Brady figures to be less prone to crushing mistakes than DeShone Kizer and Kevin Hogan were.
“We have to play a lot better to beat them or anyone else,” coach Todd Bowles said.
The to-do list is long, from limiting penalties to getting more pressure from the big-name defensive linemen to running the ball effectively and consistently.
“If you want to beat a team that’s as disciplined and structured as the Patriots, you can’t allow any mistakes,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “Eighty percent of the time, they’re going to capitalize.”
All true. But the Patriots have looked vulnerable early this season, the Jets believe in themselves and if we have learned anything over the past half-year in New York sports it is that we know nothing at all.
“It’s funny to hear man have so many predictions, but the man upstairs always has the final say-so,” linebacker Demario Davis said. “He’s probably laughing right now.”
At least no one is laughing at the Jets anymore.