It's amazing how one game can change perception. The New York Jets had become a national punch line after three straight losses dropped them to 3-6. Then last week, they beat the completely mediocre St. Louis Rams and now there's talk that they're back in the playoff picture.
Really? If the Jets are in playoff contention at 4-6, exactly who isn't? There are only four teams in the AFC with a worse record than the Jets'. And the Jets are playing without their best player (Darrelle Revis) and best playmaker (Santonio Holmes) for the rest of the season.
For the Jets to even have a remote shot at making the postseason, they must beat the New England Patriots on Thursday night. Since Rex Ryan took over in 2009, the Jets have had solid success against the Patriots. New York split with New England in 2009 and 2010, and also won the playoff game between the two teams in 2010.
One big storyline Thursday will be how the Patriots are able to replace Rob Gronkowski, who was injured on an extra point last week with the Patriots leading 58-24 and 3:55 left in the game. Critics of Belichick will say this serves him right for running up the score and that he shouldn't have had Gronkowski on the field at all. While it's valid to point out that there was no reason for Brady to be throwing passes on that drive (not to mention to even be in the game), it was just a freak accident for Gronkowski to get injured on an extra point.
As for Thursday's game, according to ESPN Insider's PickCenter, fans are backing the Patriots at a 67 percent clip. The public team getting the public's support -- no surprise there.
Spread: Opened Patriots -7; now Patriots -6.5
Total: Opened at 49; now 48.5