7 Reasons Why Geno Smith, Rex Ryan Will Lead the Jets to the Playoffs

Aidan MackieSenior Analyst IOctober 30, 2013

7 Reasons Why Geno Smith, Rex Ryan Will Lead the Jets to the Playoffs

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    Coming off of a 40-point loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Jets' fanbase is certainly not confident about the team's prospects for the rest of the season. 

    However, New York has a chance to shock the world and claim the last spot in the AFC playoff field if several things come together. 

    From the Jets' stout run defense to Geno Smith's ability in the clutch, here are seven reasons why Gang Green could make the 2013 playoffs. 

Relatively Easy Second-Half Schedule

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    The Jets have had a schedule that was neither easy nor difficult through the first eight games. That trend will continue in the second half. 

    New York will likely lose this week and move to 4-5 on the season after they welcome Drew Brees and the 6-1 Saints to the Meadowlands. 

    However, after New Orleans, the Jets close the year with seven games that appear winnable. 

    New York has to travel to Buffalo, Baltimore, Carolina and Miami. None of those games are easy, but none of them are scary either. 

    The Jets also host the Raiders, Dolphins and Browns in the second half. Once again, none of those games are gimmes, but none of them jump off the page, either. 

    New York has been competitive, especially against teams that don't possess outstanding offenses. Apart from the Saints, the defense should have its way with the remaining offenses. 

    Don't be surprised if the Jets blow up and lose several heartbreakers, but don't be surprised if they put a few wins together in the season's final weeks, either. 

Weak AFC East Field

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    The Jets' chances of making the postseason are also enhanced by the lack of strength in the entire AFC. 

    Right now, there looks to be five teams who will definitely make the playoffs (the Chiefs, Patriots, Bengals, Colts and Broncos). After those five teams, though, there is a major drop-off in talent. 

    There is the 4-3 Chargers, who are offensively loaded but have serious flaws on defense. 

    There is the 3-4 Ravens, who seem completely lost on offense.

    There is the 3-4 Dolphins, who can't protect their quarterback or stop the run and are currently falling off a cliff.  

    There is the 3-4 Raiders and the 3-5 Browns, who are the Raiders and the Browns. 

    And there is the 3-4 Titans, who are a talented team but lack the consistency to be a serious contender. 

    New York has serious flaws, but so do all of the teams that Gang Green is competing with to claim the sixth spot in the AFC playoff field. 

    An 8-8 record could potentially get the Jets into the playoffs. 

The Run Defense

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    New York's run defense has gone from a team liability to one of the league's best units in only one year. 

    Gang Green currently leads the league in rush defense, as the team allows just 77.8 yards per game on the ground. The Jets also rank first in the NFL in rush yards allowed per play by a wide margin.

    The Jets' 3.1 rush yards allowed per play ranks 0.3 yards ahead of the second-best team in the NFL in that category, the Denver Broncos. 

    New York hasn't faced a bunch of scrubs at running back, either. Gang Green's stout front has shut down the likes of Doug Martin, Stevan Ridley, C.J. Spiller, Le'Veon Bell and Giovani Bernard. 

    With a young and athletic front seven that includes Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison, Demario Davis and David Harris, don't expect New York's run defense to soften up anytime soon. 

Muhammad Wilkerson

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    Muhammad Wilkerson is such a good football player that he warrants his own slide. 

    Wilkerson is so good that his presence makes opposing teams change their offensive game plan. The third-year man can make a huge impact on every phase of the game. 

    Wilkerson is simply a disruptive force. The third-year defensive end is one of the most dominant players in the NFL, as he continually has his way with his opposing matchup. 

    The Temple product and former first-round pick has recorded 30 tackles, seven sacks, three stuffs, two forced fumbles, a pass deflection and an interception through eight games. Those kind of all-around statistics are unheard of. 

    Wilkerson's impact goes beyond the stats, though. He has the capability to carry the defense on his back at any time, and he is a serious contender for Defensive Player of the Year. 

    Wilkerson could be key to a Jets' playoff run. 

Geno Smith's Ability in Clutch Situations

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    Geno Smith is one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in the NFL. 

    The rookie quarterback can go from 2011 Aaron Rodgers to 2013 Matt Schaub at any time, as he consistently rotates from amazing play to pick-six. 

    However, there is something about the game being on the line that makes Smith an elite signal-caller. 

    Smith has orchestrated last-minute, game-winning drives against the Buccaneers and Falcons, a terrific drive that set up a game-winning field goal in overtime against the Patriots and a fourth-quarter touchdown drive that was the difference against the Bills. 

    Smith's ability in the clutch isn't just astounding, but also historic. He is the only quarterback since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to lead four game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime in his first seven games.

    If the Jets can play teams close and put the ball in Geno's hands with the game on the line, they could easily make a run at the playoffs. 

Nick Folk

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    Is there a kicker you would rather have on your team right now than Nick Folk?

    Folk, who entered the season with a career field-goal percentage below 80, has put together one of the best kicking seasons in recent memory. 

    The 28-year-old has been perfect this year, making all 19 of his field-goal and extra-point attempts. More importantly than his accuracy, though, has been his ability in the clutch. 

    Folk has knocked through three game-winning field goals in the final seconds thus far (against Tampa Bay, Atlanta and New England, respectively), all from beyond 40 yards. 

    With a stout defense, the Jets tend to play low-scoring, close games. That makes Folk all the more important. 

    Don't be surprised to see the former Dallas Cowboy knock through a few more game-winners by the time the season is over. 

Rex Ryan

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    Yes, Ryan hasn't been perfect this season. 

    The lack of discipline in terms of penalties is on him. As is Gang Green's week-to-week inconsistency. 

    However, Ryan is a hell of a defensive schemer and a motivator. 

    No other coach in the NFL has gotten so much out of such a talent-deprived roster. Ryan has taken a team with 11 new starters and a rookie quarterback and turned it into a postseason contender. 

    That can be accredited to Ryan's fabulous defensive scheming and motivational skills. 

    The fifth-year head coach has used a young and athletic defensive front to upset opposing quarterbacks and prevent a subpar secondary from being completely exposed, and he has used his mouth to build a "no one believes in us" mentality in the locker room. 

    Ryan's job is undoubtedly on the line, so don't expect him to go out without doing everything he can to make this team win now. 

    If the Jets do make the playoffs, it will largely be due to Rex Ryan