On paper, the jets have numbers that look like an elite team. Their defense and running game get talked about as a scary threat that all teams should be worried about in the post season.
The Jets rush offense is # 1 because their pass offense is ranked 31st in the NFL.
They simply can't pass at all, so they run.
Discounting their skewed rushing stats, New York's yards per game are 321 or 20th in the league. Points per game, 21.8 or 17th.
Now, about their top ranked defense…
Since their bye in week 9, they have done the following
week 10 Loss at home vs. Jacksonville Off rank 24th in points 18th in yards
week 11 Loss at New England Off rank 6th in points 3rd in yards
week 12 Won at home vs. Carolina Off rank 21st in points 19th in yards
week 13 Won at Buffalo Off rank 28th in points 30th in yards
week 14 Won at Tampa Bay Off rank 30th in points 28th in yards
week 15 Loss at home vs. Atlanta Off rank 13th in points 16th in yards
week 16 Won at Indy Off rank 7th in points 9th in yards
week 17 Won at Cincinnati Off rank 22nd in points 24th in yards
So what does this tell us?
They simply have not played an offense in the top 2/3rds of the league and won aside from indy.
Indy pulled Manning after they were up 15-10 and their back up rookie QB, Curtis Painter, who was put in the drivers seat of one of the NFL's most complicated offenses with it's star receivers out, turned it over twice. They lost.
Even football outsiders admits, pulling out playmakers ruins their statistic models.
to quote football outsiders:
"How do we account for teams that sit their starters once they are locked into a playoff spot?...The answer is we don't… we don't adjust DVOA for all those plays where Curtis Painter was lousy. We trust readers to know that you have to look at DVOA with common sense and a knowledge of context, just like any other stat. We know that the Colts are a better team than their DVOA rating shows. We know that the Jets are a worse team than their DVOA rating shows. We know these things… just like we know that the San Diego Chargers' rating for the whole season is still being dragged downward by the first five games of the season."
Ironic how they mention the Chargers in the same paragraph isn't it?
How did the Chargers fair in that same time span?
Week 9 Won at New York Offensive rank 8th in points 8th in yards
Week 10 Won at home vs. Philadelphia Offensive rank 5th in points 11th in yards
Week 11 Won at Denver Offensive rank 20th in points 15th in yards
Week 12 Won at home vs Kansas City Offensive rank 23rd in points 25th in yards
Week 13 Won at Clevland Offensive rank 29th in points 32nd in yards
Week 14 Won at Dallas Offensive rank 14th in points 2nd in yards
Week 15 Won at home vs. Cincinnati Offensive rank 22nd in points 24th in yards
Week 16 Won at Tenneesee Offensive rank 16th in points 12th in yards
Week 17 Won at home vs Washington Offensive rank 26th in points 22nd in Yards
Significantly better offenses. Significantly better record.
This doesn't mean the Chargers defense is better than the Jets Defense.
It means that the Chargers have won against teams with high ranked offenses and the Jets have not.
With that simple conclusion, should it matter that the Jets have a great defense?
The Jets, like so many other teams in the history of the NFL have an above average phase of the game (defense) paired with a slightly below average (offense).
Unfortunately for them, when this is averaged together and paired with opponents, you have a 9-7 team that can certainly win on any giving sunday, but an elite team they are certainly not.
And finally for fun here's two other commonly over looked statistics:
The Chargers rank 6th in turnover differential with +8. The Jets are 17th in the league with +1 (2 of those turnovers coming against the Colts backups)
The Chargers rank 4th in fewest penalties while the Jets rank 12th.