As a native New Yorker and long-suffering Jets fan now living in the Philly suburbs, I’ve also become an Eagles fan. I think it’s OK to simultaneously root for two different teams as long as one is from your hometown, one is from where you currently live, and they play in different conferences. Oh, and as long as one is not the Cowboys.
Given my rooting interests, every year I hope for an all-green Super Bowl. Because the Packers and Eagles are the only NFC teams that wear green, and the Jets are the only green-clad AFC team, an all-green Super Bowl 50 would feature the Jets against either Green Bay or Philadelphia. Here are the five reasons why I believe this year’s Super Bowl anthem will finally be “The Wearing of the Green.”
- The odds favor green in the NFC. The oddsmakers at Vegas Insider rate the Packers and Eagles as having the second- and third-best chances to win the NFC championship this season. They trail only the two-time defending champion Seahawks, but have history on their side. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, no NFC team has won three straight conference championships. So let’s consider one of them a lock and turn our attention to how the aptly nicknamed Gang Green will overcome odds of 75:1 to find their way to Levi’s Stadium on February 7.
- Welcome back, Darrelle and Cro. Asked why he drafted catcher Hobie Landrith with the first pick in the expansion draft that established the original NY Mets roster, Casey Stengel replied “You have to have a catcher, otherwise you will have a lot of passed balls.” In football, the same is true of cornerbacks: without good ones, you will have a lot of passed balls that go for touchdowns. During his thankfully brief tenure, former GM John Idzik chased off both Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, two of the best corners in the league (and in Jets history). New GM Mike Maccagnan wasted no time in bringing them back, adding Buster Skrine for good measure. With the prodigal corners back in place and supported by an awesome front seven and a solid group of safeties, opposing receivers can look forward to a long and thirsty stay on Revis Island 2.0 this year.
- Don’t Fear the Beard. OK, so the hirsute Harvardian Ryan Fitzpatrick is not Chad Pennington, the Jets’ last halfway decent quarterback. (Brett Favre was just a bad dream, not a Jet QB.) Although he’s never had a winning season, he does have a career completion percentage over 60% and throws more touchdowns than interceptions. I know that’s a low standard of excellence, but these are the Jets after all. This season Fitz is reunited with his old mentor and new Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, for whom he averaged nearly 24 TD passes per year in the three years they were together in Buffalo. (These were somewhat offset by an average of 18 interceptions, but as I said, these are the Jets.) With a few more years of experience since then, a good offensive line, and quality receivers like Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, Fitzpatrick is good enough to pull a Trent Dilfer and ride the defense to the big show. (That said, I admit to not picking Fitz for my team in the NFL’s Fantasy League.)
- The Power of Three. The Jets don’t have the weapons to run a big play offense, so they will need to control the ball with a strong ground game. Problem is, the Jets haven’t had a top tier running back since Curtis Martin retired ten years ago. But this year the trio of Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, and Zac Stacy is a nice mix of power, finesse and flat-out effort. All three run hard and any of them could break out for a 1000-yard season. Watch out for this three-headed monster.
- Karma of the Owls. I love Temple University and its people. They are smart, tough, diverse, and break through whatever obstacles life puts in their way. My son Ted graduated from Temple a few years ago. Jets head coach Todd Bowles is a Temple alum. So too are star defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and special teams terror Jaiquawn Jarrett. Last week the Temple Owls defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions for the first time in 74 years! Since it’s been only 46 years since the Jets last appeared in the Super Bowl, I feel confident that the Jets’ Temple connections will convert some of the Owls’ cherry and white karma into Jets Hunter green this season.
Let’s just hope that my prediction of an all-green Super Bowl 50 works out better than my prediction for last season: Six Reasons Why the Jets Will Win the Super Bowl…