The Jets (5-7) face the Denver Broncos (3-9) at Sports Authority field at Mile high in Denver, on Sunday, Dec. 10, at 4:05 p.m. ET.
December in Denver is always a little nicer than I think it's going to be. Temperatures on Sunday should be slightly over 60 with light winds and sunny skies.
WHAT IT MEANS
It means everything to the Jets. They are two games behind the Baltimore Ravens in the race for the last wild-card spot in the AFC with only four games to play, so they can't afford any slip-ups. They also have to hope for some help because just to get to the Ravens, they have to jump over the Chargers, Bills and Raiders, who are all one game ahead of the Jets. It's not going to be easy. It's probably impossible. But the Jets have no shot if they don't win all four of their remaining games.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Jets quarterback Josh McCown. He is now the reigning AFC Player of the Week after his outstanding game against the Chiefs last week, and Jets coach Todd Bowles confirmed what SNY has been saying for more than a month: McCown is going to start every game this season if he's healthy, and there are no plans at all to see second-year pro Christian Hackenberg in action. The Jets are simply not good enough to blow teams out -- even bad teams -- which means their margin for error is small. Much of their fate hinges on how McCown plays in key situations. When he plays well, they win. When he makes critical mistakes, they lose. So McCown in the fourth quarter could be huge.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Jets right tackle Brandon Shell vs. Broncos linebacker Von Miller. Shell, in his second NFL season, has been pretty good all year, but this is clearly his biggest test so far. Miller, in his seventh NFL season, is still one of the premier defenders and pass rushers in the league. He also has nine sacks in 12 games, which makes him a shoe-in for his sixth season of double-digit sacks. Granted, as the Broncos have collapsed over the last eight games, Miller's effectiveness has diminished. He has only two sacks -- and one solo sack -- in the last six games dating back to Oct. 30. But if there's only one player on the Broncos who can make a difference and disrupt the Jets' suddenly explosive offense, it's Miller. If he starts harassing McCown, the Jets' longshot playoff hopes could quickly disappear.
It's almost hard to believe that the Broncos were 3-1 when they were coming off a bye week, playing host to a terrible, Odell Beckham Jr.-less Giants. They lost that day and every game since. Most of their problems have been on offense, particularly at quarterback where Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler have swapped mostly unimpressive starts. In fact, Denver's offense has stumbled so badly and been so turnover prone (the team turnover ratio is minus-16) that they've wasted an outstanding defense and created a hard-to-believe stat: The Broncos defense is ranked fifth in the NFL, but the Broncos are giving up the second most points-per-game (26.2) in the league. It's actually so bad that there's been talk that the Broncos have "quit" on rookie head coach Vance Joseph, and rumors that he's on the hot seat.
Boy, what a week. It's not often the Jets look like a model of stability both compared to their opponent (and their neighbors across town). Anyway, the Jets played a terrific game against the Chiefs, and their offense is clicking. If they can keep Miller off of McCown and if they can avoid the kind of letdown they had in Tampa Bay a few weeks ago, this is a game they absolutely should win. They rarely win big, so it'll be close, but the Jets are the better team. … Jets 27, Broncos 20.
MY RECORD: 6-6
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO WIN: 2-3
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO LOSE: 4-3