Any hope the New York Jets had of making a Cinderella run to the postseason evaporated in the thin air of Denver with a 23-0 beatdown at the hands of the lowly Broncos.
Now 5-8, Gang Green must head South to face the 9-4 New Orleans Saints without their overachieving quarterback.
Expectations should be low the rest of the way, and that’s especially true this week. Here are three reasons to accept an inevitable loss in New Orleans before it happens.
Josh McCown’s impressive, surprising season under center for the Jets came to an end when he broke his left hand in Denver. Next man up: Bryce Petty.
While Petty is young and still can alter his career trajectory, he has rarely impressed as the Jets’ occasional quarterback. This will be his fifth career start, and he hasn’t thrown more touchdowns than interceptions in any of the previous four.
The Saints possess the NFL’s best one-two punch at running back, but rookie Alvin Kamara appears to be the clear alpha over veteran Mark Ingram.
Although he is dealing with a concussion suffered last week, Kamara expects to play Sunday. If he does, the Jets will have their hands full with a back whose both hard to tackle and moves rapidly upfield. Plus, he’s a pretty good threat in the passing game. He’ll prove hard to stop whenever, and however, he touches the ball.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees still plays at a high level — he’s the NFL’s passing accuracy leader — but the emergence of a dominant rushing attack has taken the pressure off the 38-year-old. He’s on pace to finish with the nearly fewest passing yards of his 12-year tenure with the team.
The Jets’ underwhelming pass rush isn’t likely to put much pressure on Brees, either. New Orleans’ offensive line has allowed just 17 sacks this year, tied for second fewest.