The New York Jets are halfway there. They are eight losses away from becoming the third 0-16 team in NFL history. You have to like their chances, considering that they treat the end zone like a HAZMAT area and face a formidable schedule over the final two months.
Ironically, their best chance to win a game could be against the team they almost never beat, the team that has tormented them for two decades.
Here come the New England Patriots (2-5), who, in a bizarre season in which up is down and down is good, look almost as weak and vulnerable as the Jets. The AFC East rivals play on Monday Night Football in Week 9 at MetLife Stadium (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN), and it would be the Jetsiest thing ever if they beat the Patriots and cost themselves a chance at Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
Twenty years ago, coach Bill Belichick changed the course of Jets' history -- really, NFL history -- by walking out on the team. Once again, he can affect their future by losing -- twice for good measure. The Jets and Patriots play again in Week 17.
As the only winless team, the Jets are the leaders at the turn, with the New York Giants (1-6), Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) and Houston Texans (1-6) behind them. Because they have the strongest schedule -- the tiebreaker for draft position -- the Jets could ruin their shot at No. 1 with a single victory. They can't take any chances. Their badness must be so profound that it leaves no doubt.
If they miss out on Lawrence, deemed by talent evaluators as a generational talent, what was the point of stinking?
The next three games could define the Jets' future well beyond the 2020 season.
After the Patriots, there's a bye week, followed by the Los Angeles Chargers (2-5) on the road and the Miami Dolphins (4-3) at home. That means the Jets will face rookie quarterbacks in back-to-back weeks, with Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa. Ordinarily, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams would be able to play mind games with the young QBs, but his schemes don't seem to confuse opponents anymore.
From there, the Jets move on to the Las Vegas Raiders (4-3), followed by back-to-back West Coast trips to face the Seattle Seahawks (6-1) and Los Angeles Rams (5-3). Good luck with those two. After that, the Jets finish with the Cleveland Browns (5-3) at home and the New England finale on the road.
Any non-expansion team should be able to steal a win or two, but the Jets might defy logic because of three reasons:
After the Jets managed three field goals in Sunday's 35-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, coach Adam Gase seemed to be at a loss to explain how or why. His offense has gone six straight quarters without a touchdown. The Jets have four touchdown passes in eight games; the record for fewest in a 16-game season is five (1995 Tampa Bay Buccaneers). They're averaging only 259 yards per game; the futility record is 211 yards (1992 Seattle Seahawks).
"When we get starters healthy -- we should have some guys coming back -- that's always going to help stretch the field a little bit," Gase said. "Right now, we're limited on guys [who] can stretch the field, when we have a couple dudes banged up. We have to try to get some more chunk plays and explosive plays. ... I'd love to see this starting wideout group actually play together and see where that would go."
Gase sounded desperate, which he is. He can read the writing on the wall. He won't be back in 2021. The only question is whether the new coach will inherit an 0-16 team and the No. 1 pick.
Somewhere in his Foxborough bunker, Belichick's giant brain is scheming.