The Jets suddenly have a little life with the return of Sam Darnold and a big win over the Cowboys. They are feeling confident, the way they did way back in Week 1.
But it is all too little, too late?
Not necessarily, at least not if they can pull off an improbable win against the New England Patriots at the Meadowlands next Monday night in a game that is shaping up as the Jets' last stand for the 2019 season. Their odds are already long at 1-4, but their playoff path will look impossible if they fall to 1-5.
If they can beat the Patriots, though, and get to 2-4 … well, then their schedule opens up with a lot of potential wins ahead.
Maybe it's all fools' gold. After all, only one team in the last 29 years has rebounded from an 0-4 start to make the playoffs. And maybe there's just a little too much excitement about the Jets after a very narrow first win (24-22 over the Cowboys).
But the dreamers will feel good if the Jets' performance on Sunday wasn't a fluke and they can somehow knock off the defending Super Bowl champions. Because if they can, then the road to .500 will look wide open. And a path to playoff contention could quickly develop, too.
Here's a look at what's ahead on the Jets' schedule - overall, a pretty soft, eight-week stretch:
Vs. New England Patriots (6-0), Monday night Oct. 21
They are the defending champs, they still have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and they have the NFL's No. 1 defense and No. 9 offense. So why think the Jets have any chance?
Well, the Patriots have basically played nobody (the Dolphins, the Redskins, the Giants, and the Jets with Luke Falk account for four of their six wins). Also, the Giants with a rookie quarterback were a touchdown away from upsetting them in Foxboro in the fourth quarter, before going on to lose 35-14.
Because of the schedule, it's hard to say how good these Patriots really are. But Darnold and the Jets would have to be at their best.
At Jacksonville (2-4), Sunday, Oct. 27
Yes, everyone is swept up in Gardner Minshew mania, but the Jags are still 2-4 and could only put up six points at home against the Saints on Sunday. Their best defensive player, CB Jalen Ramsey, is a fixture on the inactive list because he's either hurt or unhappy, and he could be traded by the time the Jets arrive. The once-feared Jacksonville defense ranks 22nd in the league. They also reek of dysfunction.
At Miami Dolphins (0-5), Sunday, Nov. 3
Speaking of dysfunction, they are "Tanking for Tua" whether they want to admit it or not, and the only thing that could stand in their way is the hapless Washington Redskins, who beat them 17-16 on Sunday. This is a bad, bad team that ranks 31st on offense and 32nd on defense. The only reason the Jets should even be mildly worried is that Ryan Fitzpatrick is now their starting quarterback, and maybe he's got a little of his old FitzMagic left.
Vs. Giants (2-4), Sunday, Nov. 10
For all the early hype about rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, the reality is he's still a rookie and the Giants' offense is still stuck in neutral. They have potential, especially with Saquon Barkley back, but they even struggled with him.
Add in a shaky defense that has shown mild signs of improvement, and this is a good test. But give the advantage to the Jets with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams scheming against a quarterback who will be making his eighth NFL start.
At Washington Redskins (1-5), Sunday, Nov. 17
They are maybe the only team in the NFL that can claim to be as bad as the Dolphins, and they just barely beat them on Sunday with Miami failing to convert their two-point conversion at the end of the game. They've already fired their head coach, and there's controversy surrounding the readiness of their rookie quarterback, Dwayne Haskins. No one's happy in Washington. No one is very good, either.
Vs. Oakland Raiders (3-2), Sunday, Nov. 24
The fact that they are over .500 after surviving the summer of Antonio Brown is a minor miracle. Quarterback Derek Carr is a model of efficiency and running back Josh Jacobs is off to a very strong start. Even the defense has exceeded expectations.
Surprisingly, other than the Patriots game, this figures to be the Jets' toughest game in this stretch. It helps that the Raiders will have to make the long, cross-country trip from California.
At Cincinnati Bengals (0-6), Sunday, Dec. 1
They have actually been close in four of their six games, but the Bengals can't seem to generate an offense -- surprising considering their new coach, Zac Taylor, is a disciple of the great Sean McVay. Injuries to receivers A.J. Green and John Ross has hurt, but they can't really run the ball either. At this point in the season, will Andy Dalton still be their quarterback, or will they be ready to give rookie Ryan Finley a chance?
Vs. Miami Dolphins (0-5), Sunday, Dec. 8
What's better than an easy road game against the Dolphins? An easier home game against the Dolphins. And in December, when they might already be 0-12 with a roster full of players who can't wait to get home. If the Jets lose this game, they don't deserve to be in the playoff hunt.