Israel Offers A Whole New Ball Game For The NFL

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Jets writer Andy Vasquez talks about what acting owner Christopher Johnson and GM Mike Maccagnan had to say as the Jets wrapped up their 2017 season on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, in Florham Park. Andy Vasquez/NorthJersey.com

FILE - This file photo from Dec. 17, 2017, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) as he runs the ball against the New England Patriots during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh. The running back is fresh heading into Sunday's playoff game against Jacksonville. Bell only had 15 carries in the teams' first meeting this season. (AP Photo/Don Wright, FILE)(Photo: The Associated Press)

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Seven long seasons have passed since the Jets last reached the playoffs. It's the second-longest drought in franchise history, and only the Browns and Bucs have current playoff-less streaks that are longer. 

But Jets fans can still find a way to enjoy this weekend. No, you don't have to book a last-minute flight to a tropical destination with no television or internet connection. There are several potential future Jets who are in action in the divisional round. Here are our rankings of the best games and what to watch for.

Jaguars at Steelers 

1:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS

Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is the most intriguing player on the field this weekend who is also set to hit free agency later this year. Bell is a dynamic player who will transform any offense. And he's only 25 years old. The Jets are projected to have around $100 million in cap space, so they would be able to afford his steep contract demands -- he turned down a Steelers offer of $14 million per year last offseason.

Sure, Jets brass may not want to spend that kind of money on a running back. But what if they do? Yes, it's OK to picture Bell in green and white next season.

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Marqise Lee led the Jaguars with 56 pass receptions this season. (Photo: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

On the other side of the ball, Jags quarterback Blake Bortles is set to become a free agent -- but the Jets already have a project on their hands in Christian Hackenberg, they don't need another. But one intriguing possibility: Jags receiver Marqise Lee. He just turned 26 and has big potential, the kind of guy the Jets might take a chance on.

Saints at Vikings 

4:40 p.m. Sunday on FOX

No matter who plays quarterback in this game there's at least a chance they could be with the Jets in 2018. 

Vikings' starter Case Keenum is enjoying the best season of his career and the 29-year-old is set to become a free agent this offseason and certainly could be an option for the Jets -- although, a risky one because this is the first year he's excelled. 

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At 29, Case Keenum went from journeyman to solid NFL starter this year (Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

Minnesota backup Teddy Bridgewater will also hit the open market and will be an intriguing option for the Jets. He's only 26, but is he the same player after that devastating knee injury? Signing him would be a gamble, too. And then there's Sam Bradford, who is set to hit the open market at age 30. It's hard to imagine the Jets taking a chance on an oft-injured quarterback, but you never know. 

For the Saints, Drew Brees is set to be a free agent. We can't imagine a scenario in which the Saints don't bring him back. But if you'd like to envision Brees, who turns 39 on Monday, leading the Jets into contention over the next year or two, go for it. It's still, technically, possible.

Titans at Patriots 

8:15 p.m. Saturday on CBS

Jets fans usually don't derive much joy out of watching the Patriots. But perhaps one of the Patriots could be a Jet next season. 

The Jets need a starting cornerback and New England's Malcolm Butler -- he of the famed Super Bowl-clinching interception -- would definitely fit the bill. He's set to hit free agency and may be motivated to find a new home after the Patriots brought in Stephon Gilmore in free agency last season instead of negotiating an extension with him. The Jets would certainly provide him a chance at some revenge.

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New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21). (Photo: Bob DeChiara, USA TODAY Sports)

A couple of former Jets to watch out for: Eric Decker has had a quiet season with the Titans, but he made a huge touchdown catch in last week's win over Kansas City. Decker caught the game-winning touchdown in the Jets' last victory over the Patriots (December of 2015). Can he hurt the Pats again? Former Jet linebacker David Harris has been a non-factor with New England this season, but perhaps things will be different in the playoffs. 

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Falcons at Eagles,

4:35 p.m. Saturday on NBC

OK, there's really not a whole lot to see here for Jets fans -- especially in the way of potential free agents. Neither team has any big names. But this is one of the more interesting games of the weekend, because no one is quite sure what to expect out of the Eagles since they lost quarterback Carson Wentz to a knee injury.

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Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (12) runs against Los Angeles Rams free safety Lamarcus Joyner (20) in the fourth quarter in an NFC wild-card game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)

Expect Jay Ajayi, a familiar face to Jets fans from his time in Miami, to get a heavy load of carries. And former Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu is looking for his first touchdown catch of the postseason. He had two last year in the Falcons' run that ended with a loss at the Super Bowl.

Email: vasqueza@northjersey.com 

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Source : https://www.northjersey.com/story/sports/nfl/jets/2018/01/12/new-york-jets-fans-guide-watching-nfl-divisional-playoffs-weekend/1028103001/

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