Jets defensive end Jermaine Johnson (52) celebrates an interception by...

Jets defensive end Jermaine Johnson (52) celebrates an interception by New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley (57) during the second half of the Chicago Bears at the New York Jets on November 27, 2022. Credit: Lee S. Weissman/Lee S. Weissman

The rest of this Jets season will be judged by a jury of their peers.

That hasn’t always been the case for this franchise, which has spent most of the past two decades looking up at other superior teams — well, one team in particular — hoping they can close the gap and find a way to pull even or surpass them. It’s led to a very strong inferiority complex throughout the franchise, one so seamlessly sewn into the fabric of the green unforms that it can be difficult to recognize when those ambitions start coming to fruition. Fans, too, have long been mired in not-quite-good-enough thinking after what for many has been a lifetime of frustration and disappointment.

So it’s worth reminding everyone that these Jets are every bit as good — and in some cases better — than all five of the teams remaining on their schedule.

There aren’t any automatic losses or insurmountable foes left for them to face. They just played the best team on their slate this past Sunday and nearly beat them with a spirited second-half comeback bid. If they play to that level for the next month they will assuredly enter the playoffs performing at their peak.

This is not to say it will be easy. There are certainly challenges, starting with Sunday’s trip to Buffalo. But that’s a team the Jets have already beaten … and they did it with the player who is now their third-string quarterback! The Lions, next week’s opponent, are surging, but far from terrifying. Jacksonville? If the Jets lose to the Jaguars they don’t deserve to get into the postseason. The Seahawks have been playing well (who is their quarterback again?) and they have a difficult environment for road teams, but they also have holes. The Dolphins close out the schedule. That could be a game for everything. Then again, everything may be settled by the time it is played.

Nowhere in their vision is there a team to fear.

“I think when I first got here [in 2020] you could feel that a little bit,” center Connor McGovern told Newsday. “You could definitely tell when you were playing a really good team the energy around here was different. Now, it doesn’t matter who we are playing, everyone is kind of nameless, faceless opponents. Obviously we know this is an important game because it’s a divisional game and we know they are a really good team, but there is definitely no we-don’t-stand-a-chance vibe. Everybody knows we can go toe-to-toe with anyone.”

As recently as last year there was that trepidation.

“There is a confidence stepping out on the field knowing that either we’re the better team or when we do things the right way we can win the football game,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “I don’t think there was ever intimidation. Not since I’ve been here. It’s hard to say somebody is scared. But we’re not looking at a team like, ‘This is going to might be hard’ or with a ‘this is going to be a challenge to prove we belong’ mentality. That’s changed for sure.”

As the Jets know far too well there is usually a tendency for weaker teams to look on their schedule for soft spots and mentally circle them as rare opportunities for wins. The irony, of course, is the other lackluster team is probably looking at the same game as one of its few chances to win too.

Now, though, the Jets can see their entire schedule as winnable contests. Only now, not everyone is staring back thinking the same thing.

Last week’s loss, while difficult to take, only strengthened the team’s resolve in itself.

“In the two previous years I think the Jets would have hung ‘em up a little bit and moved onto the next week at halftime, took our licking and moved on,” McGovern said of trailing 20-6 in Minnesota. “You could tell this year we’re not soft swinging. To me it felt like a heavyweight bout, trading blows, going at it. It’s fun to be in those games and know no matter what the score is at half we have an opportunity.

“We’re in any game.”

There is no reason they shouldn’t be for the rest of the way.

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