After two straight appearances in the AFC Championship Game, the New York Jets are primed and ready to take the next step in their meteoric rise to elite status in the National Football League . Walking away with the Super Bowl XLVI title won’t be an easy task, but the Jets have all the tools to get the job done and taste their first victory in the Big Show since the 1968-69 season. Here are the top five reasons why the New York Jets will be the beasts of the East and ultimately become world champions this year.
A Fierce Leader
Rex Ryan led the Jets to the doorstep of the Super Bowl in each of the past two seasons, but his team ran into some tough luck by having to match up against the Indianapolis Colts in 2010 and Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011. For his squad to get over the hump in 2012, they will need to maintain the same hunger and brash attitude that got them so far over the past couple years. Rex Ryan is a bold leader and his team loves to play for him, so no one can question his command as long as he continues to produce a winning product.
Darrelle Revis is so dominant on the field that opposing quarterbacks rarely even attempt throwing the football in his direction. Furthermore, he is so well-respected that his fellow NFL players voted him eighth best player in the entire league. Last season, Revis put an exclamation point on an already extraordinary year by limiting Reggie Wayne to one catch for just one yard in a playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts. In 2009, Revis notched six interceptions and finished a close second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting, as he lost to Charles Woodson by a count of 28-14. The star cornerback will be just 26 years old when the upcoming season kicks off, so he is just now coming into his prime.
A Fallen Rival
Since 2001, the New England Patriots have accumulated a regular season record of 121-39 while making the playoffs in eight of the past 10 seasons. However, Tom Brady is closing in on his 34th birthday and the rest of his team isn’t getting any younger so it looking like the final chapter of their historic dominance in the AFC East may have already been written. The Jets will finally be able to earn a home playoff game if they can capture the divisional crown from this year’s weakened version of the Patriots.
A Star Quarterback
Mark Sanchez has bloomed into one of the top young star quarterbacks in the NFL. In 2010, Sanchez became the toast of the town in New York by showing growth and maturity in his role. Last year he racked up 3,291 passing yards and 17 touchdowns while giving up just 13 interceptions. Sanchez will need to continue to show progress and play smart football to lead the Jets to the Super Bowl this year.
Free Agent Signings
Once the NFL lockout is over, the Jets need to do everything in their power to re-sign some of the key pieces that led them to the postseason last year. The Jets have a slew of unrestricted free agents, but locking up Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Antonio Cromartie to long-term deals should the top priorities before the season gets underway. If the Jets can shore up their pass rush and sign their free agent wide receivers, one can make the case that New York is the team to beat in the NFL this year.
Eric Holden has been a New York Jets supporter for over 20 years. He originally became a fan of the team from attending numerous summer training camp sessions at Hofstra University in the 1990s and has followed the team ever since because of their strong ties to Long Island.