Jets believe against all odds - BERGEN RECORD
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
By J.P. PELZMAN
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The Jets probably won't practice in their heated bubble this week, as coach Eric Mangini will want to get them ready for the expected cold weather in Foxboro, Mass., on Sunday.
But Mangini would like them to live in a figurative bubble this week, in which Spygate, bitter coaching rivalries and dreams of ending perfect seasons can't penetrate.
"What is Spygate?" wide receiver Laveranues Coles asked Monday.
Not much, really, just one of the biggest NFL stories in years.
In case you've forgotten, New England, the Jets' opponent Sunday, was caught videotaping signals of Jets' assistant coaches during the Patriots' season-opening 38-14 victory. It turned out that was a pattern of behavior for New England.
Because of that, it's believed that the Patriots (13-0) will have extra incentive against the Jets (3-10). Not to mention the fact that New England also can keep its perfect season and clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a victory.
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And on the individual front, Tom Brady needs four touchdown passes to tie the record of 49 set by Indianapolis' Peyton Manning in 2004 and wide receiver Randy Moss needs three touchdown receptions to match Jerry Rice's record of 22 with San Francisco in 1987.
"It's a regular game," running back Thomas Jones said, adding that the Jets will "prepare the same way that we prepare for any other team, so we're just going to go out there and try to execute and win this football game. That's how we're looking at it, we're not looking at it any differently."
And what about Spygate?
"I'm not even concerned with that stuff," Jones said. "That's not an issue. That's in the past."
"It's just another game," Coles said. "We're not putting any [extra] emphasis on it. It's a fun game, so guys want to go out, play and have fun. That's what it's about.
"The game itself is not about any outside distractions or anything like that, it's about what we do between the lines. Guys want to go out, compete and have a good game."
"All the little behind-the-scenes stories don't really affect what's in this locker room," linebacker Eric Barton said. "We just have to go out there and play."
Even though the Jets are given little chance to win by the oddsmakers. New England is a 24-point favorite, tied for the second-highest line in the NFL since 1976.
"I'm not a betting man," Coles said, "so it doesn't really bother me at all. Oddsmakers are doing their thing. We were a one-point underdog in Miami and it didn't make a difference then, so why would it make a difference now?"
"People are going on what [they see] on paper," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said when asked about the huge spread. "We know what type of team they have over there. Everyone knows what type of team they have over there. They have a great team.
"We don't feel disrespected by any point spreads or anything like that. We're not playing that well this year, but we know what type of players we have in this locker room. We know that we have good players, no matter what anyone else thinks."
"From those numbers alone, we don't stand a chance," strong safety Kerry Rhodes said, but he quickly added, "that's outside of this locker room. We don't feel that way. We feel that we can play with anybody on any given day. I'm sure anybody in the league would say the same thing."
Don't expect much to be said afterward between Mangini and Bill Belichick, whose relationship remains frosty, especially after the Jets blew the whistle on the Pats' videotaping.
"I've said how I felt about Bill many times," Mangini said Monday. "It hasn't changed from the first time that we played each other. I have a lot of respect for him, he did a lot of things for me and has helped me significantly throughout my career to develop. That hasn't changed one bit for me."
* * *
The highest point spreads in NFL matchups since 1976:
Date Favorite Underdog Spread Score
Dec. 5, 1976 Pittsburgh Tampa Bay 26 Steelers, 42-0
Nov. 25, 2007 New England Phildelphia 24 Patriots, 31-28
Dec. 5, 1993 San Francisco Cincinnati 24 49ers, 21-8
Dec. 16, 2007 New England JETS 24 ------
Oct. 11, 1987 San Francisco* Atlanta 23½ 49ers, 25-17
* Replacement game Source: The Gold Sheet