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Jets embarking on critical stretch

Jim Leonhard knows the critical juncture the Jets find themselves at.

"Obviously it’s huge. You can’t say enough about how important these next three, four games are for us," the safety said today. "So we need to come out of this bye strong. We can’t afford to come out flat. We need to carry over that emotion that we’ve been playing with before the bye."

They better or they'll be in serious trouble.

The Jets, winners of two straight and sporting a 4-3 record, kick off the second half of their schedule with a pivotal contest with the AFC East-leading Bills in Buffalo on Sunday. They follow that up with a revenge grudge match against the Patriots at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 13.

"We have it right in front of us," Rex Ryan said. "The teams you have to beat are right in front of you. So we'll know. These next few weeks, they are going to be critical for us."

"We know what this game represents," he added. "You have Buffalo coming in, one of the hottest teams in the league, tied for first in our division. We've got to play at their place and so you've got to be excited about playing the No. 1-rated team in our division -- them and New England."

The players seem to be relishing their opportunity to stir things up in the AFC East over these next two weeks, beginning with Sunday's showdown at The Ralph.

"We have a pretty tough challenge ahead of us," linebacker Calvin Pace said. "Buffalo is playing well and I think they really have their team going well. I was impressed with some of the (things) they have going on in the passing game. The one thing that I will say about them is that they’re playing good, efficient football on offense.

"Fred Jackson is probably one of the best running backs playing right now. A lot of big plays. And this is going to be a tough challenge, but I think it’s one that we definitely are up to. We know what’s at stake."

And what's at stake is trying to continue climbing out of the hole they put themselves in with their 2-3 start, which included an 0-1 record in the division.

"We know we put our backs against the wall," Leonhard said. "We have to come out swinging. We can’t come out flat. We have to play well for the next couple games and see what happens after that."

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