Tuesday, January 02, 2007


As someone once said, "It just don't get no better'n that..."

Sunday, when the New England Patriots and New York Jets hit the field for their third match-up this year, it promises to be a Wild Card "wild" game.

The Jets, my "wait til next year" team, are never out of the fight until the season is over. After a dismal 5-5 start this year, most scribes had marked them off the playoff calendar and were predicting a "down year" for the Jets' first-season coach, 35-year-old Eric Mangini.

If those scribes have anything to do with it, Sunday's game will also be a clash of the coaches. Mangini came to the Jets a year ago after six seasons with the Pats -- five as defensive back coach and one as defensive coordinator -- under the Pats' hard-driving Bill Belichick. It's almost like each coach has the other's playbook...

Don't get no better'n that.

Most people don't realize that I am the Jets' secret weapon. It took me a full eight games before it dawned on that they lost each time I watched them play. Since I started "listening" to Jets' games while sitting in front of the TV with a sack over my head, they catapaulted back into action -- and into the playoffs.

Hey, least I can do.

In the history of the playoffs, these two scrappy teams have met only once -- in a 25-14 win for the Pats in 1985. This year, the Jets lost to the Pats 24-17 in September, but roared back in November with a startling 17-14 win on a muddy, sloggy Gillette Field.

Which just proves what I've been telling the AFC East for years -- you go head-to-head with the Jets in the mud, the blood, the slog or the fog -- you're gonna lose. The Pats must have finally realized that because, in the interim, they hurriedly installed FieldTurf in an effort to regain their division supremacy by playoff time.

So the showdown comes down on Sunday. The Pats are convinced the new turf is their secret weapon to beat the Jets. They brag that they haven't lost a game since it was installed.

Maybe so, but the Jets will have their own secret weapon when they roar out onto Gillette Field on Sunday. And it'll be sitting in front of the TV -- with a sack over its head.


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