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Antonio Cromartie: Jets will make playoffs

Antonio Cromartie looks on during a game against

Antonio Cromartie looks on during a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Sept. 9, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Antonio Cromartie picked up where his coach noticeably left off, favoring faith over probability and practicality.

While Rex Ryan has shied away from making guarantees, his cornerback offered his own assurance Thursday-- one that caught even the most ardent Jets fans off guard.

"The Jets will make the playoffs this year," Cromartie pronounced on NFL Network's "NFL AM" morning show.

Some members of Jets Nation probably cringed at that seemingly implausible promise. But his teammates share that belief -- and so does their coach.

The Jets (3-5) don't believe their situation is as dire as it might appear. But finishing the season 6-2, the bare minimum to earn a playoff berth, is a daunting task but not an impossible one. The Jets had the third-toughest schedule to this point, but they have the sixth-easiest second-half schedule, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

"From the outside looking in, nobody wants to see their team 3-5 because then they feel like they're behind the 8-ball," safety Yeremiah Bell said. "We kind of are, but at the same time, if you look at everybody else, we're still right there."

Bell hadn't heard Cromartie's comments until he was told, and he saw nothing "wrong with it.

"What's the harm in talking about it?" he asked. "That's what we believe in here. To say that we won't make the playoffs is basically saying that we think the season is over . . . We're not out of it. We're just 3-5."

Cromartie was in the locker room Thursday but did not speak to reporters. Ryan echoed his cornerback's words earlier in the day, defiantly declaring that "whether you like it or not, that's our mentality."

It's playoffs or bust for the Jets. And they don't plan on losing any time soon, starting Sunday in Seattle.

"This team believes we can right the ship. And we're going for it," Ryan said. "I know Cro had some comments about we're going to make the playoffs and all that. And I feel, and as an entire football team, we should all feel like that. I think we do feel like that.

"Nobody wants to hear it, but who cares? . . . And I would think as Jets fans and the whole Jet community, they would want us to feel that way -- and we do."

The Jets coach added: "We're going to keep swinging until they tell us that we're out. All of us, in my opinion, believe we can make it."

His team proved during the 2009 and 2010 playoff seasons that it can handle adversity. But Ryan was quick to point out that three straight losses to end last season cost them a shot at the playoffs. But this year's team "is much closer," Ryan said. "I just feel it. I sense it."

Bell wasn't a member of the two recent playoff teams, but he's just as confident the Jets can make another postseason run.

"I just look at the team we have," the former Dolphin said. "We have half a season to go and that's a lot of time. The first eight games, a lot of our [problems] were self-inflicted wounds. If we cut those things out, our record is flipped.

"We're very optimistic and I think it's healthy talk. We all believe that we're going to make the playoffs. But it's one thing to say it and it's another thing going out week to week and proving it."

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