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Are the Jets Super Bowl–Bound or Are the Lions Just Trash? A Fan’s Internal Debate.

Sam Darnold and the Jets beat Detroit by 31 points in Week 1. It’s time to dream, baby.

Getty Images/AP/Ringer illustration

As a fan of the New York Jets, I have spent most of my life waiting for my favorite football team to look competent. Instead, they have cemented their status as one of the funniest franchises in professional sports, a consistent laughingstock whose attempts at competence have only dug them deeper into failure. Yes, they made the AFC championship game two years in a row within the past decade. However, this feat was accomplished by a quarterback best known for once losing possession of the football by slamming his head into an enormous ass.

The Jets opened a new season with a prime-time game on Monday Night Football, and with a new quarterback, Sam Darnold, a purported franchise savior. As with all Jets games, my dream result was for the team not to look embarrassing. I hoped, maybe, for Darnold to make a good pass or two, and for the Jets to stay in striking range for most of the evening. After all, they were touchdown underdogs against the Lions on the road.

Yet the Jets won 48-17, tied for the fourth-highest single-game scoring output in franchise history. They scored on offense, defense, and special teams. They managed 31 points in the third quarter alone, the most points any team has scored in a third quarter in modern NFL history.

It was bliss. I could see my entire life unfold before me. I made a joke about the Jets winning the Super Bowl, and then thought, Hey, what if the Jets actually win the Super Bowl someday? For the first time, I contemplated the indescribable wave of joy I would experience should that happen. I foresaw the birth of my first child, who emerged from the womb with Sam Darnold’s massive, confusingly shaped adult head, complete with the weird stubble that he can’t seem to get rid of. I foresaw my death, at a ripe old age, having experienced many Jets championships, and a rainbow walkway appeared to guide me to paradise. Every color on the rainbow was a different, beautiful shade of the Jets’ signature drab green.

This all happened because of one game, against the Detroit Lions. Eventually, I snapped back to reality. Now, I’d like to present a look at my mind-set, and the debate taking place between two loud voices in my head: that of the Jets fan and that of the person whose job it is to be rational about football. Are the Jets Super Bowl–bound, or was their spectacular Week 1 a reflection of the awesome power of the Lions’ crappiness?

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Are Going to the Super Bowl: Sam Darnold has played one NFL game. In that one game, the Jets had to actively stop themselves from scoring 50 points, closing the fourth quarter by taking a knee in the red zone. Do you know the last quarterback to win his NFL debut by more than 30 points? TOM BRADY, the greatest QB of all time. That’s where I am right now: Darnold’s performance was so good that it has me unabashedly acknowledging Tom Brady’s greatness.

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Only Won Because the Lions Are Complete and Utter Trash: This was Darnold’s first pass.

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Are Going to the Super Bowl: First of all, shut the hell up. Second of all, Brett Favre’s first career NFL pass was also a pick-six, and he turned out just fine. (Sorry: Hall of Fame Jets QB Brett Favre.) Third of all, can you really prove that Darnold opening the game with a pick-six wasn’t a motivational tactic to make his teammates face adversity? My theory is that Darnold probably knows that most of the Jets’ 2018 regular-season wins will be blowouts, so he wanted his teammates to overcome an early challenge knowing it might come in handy during the playoffs.

Fourth of all, Darnold also threw this pass:

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Only Won Because the Lions Are Complete and Utter Trash: That’s not even a good pass. Lions defensive back Tavon Wilson should have intercepted it. It was not a touchdown because of Darnold; it was a touchdown because wide receiver Robby Anderson yanked the ball out of Wilson’s hands. Darnold should have finished the night with two interceptions.

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Are Going to the Super Bowl: I don’t care if it could have been intercepted. A 41-yard touchdown pass! The best Jets QB of my lifetime is probably Chad Pennington, and I’m not sure he could throw the ball 40 yards. Darnold is already a Jets legend.

After the pick-six, Darnold went 16-of-20 passing for 198 yards and two touchdowns. That comes out to a quarterback rating of 141.25. He made a rookie mistake, but then showed the maturity to bounce back from it.

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Only Won Because the Lions Are Complete and Utter Trash: “After the pick-six” is the dumbest stat regularly used by football people, because it ignores the worst possible thing a quarterback can do. And besides, we can’t forget the Lions’ defensive situation. Their new head coach is Matt Patricia, who just lost the Patriots the Super Bowl because the defense he coordinated allowed a team quarterbacked by Nick Foles to put on the greatest offensive performance in Super Bowl history.

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Are Going to the Super Bowl: The Jets are 9-27 against the Patriots since 2001. If the Pats’ old assistant coaches suck, what does that say about the Jets’ ex-coaches? That they never should have been allowed to eat solid food without supervision, let alone coach a football team? Actually, that kinda checks out. But we’re getting off track.

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Only Won Because the Lions Are Complete and Utter Trash: No, seriously, Patricia sucks. He’s proved to be bad at coaching defenses, and his offense is so basic that despite having no Patricia-coached games on tape, the Jets were able to crack Detroit’s QB signals:

The Jets barely even needed Darnold to be good, because the Jets’ defense had five picks.

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Are Going to the Super Bowl: FIVE PICKS.

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Only Won Because the Lions Are Complete and Utter Trash: Five picks off Matt Stafford and Matt Cassel on a team coached by Matt Patricia. Lions kicker Matt Prater also missed two field goal attempts. This isn’t about the Jets. This is about Matts.

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Are Going to the Super Bowl: Matt is a fine name.

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Only Won Because the Lions Are Complete and Utter Trash: “Matt” is basically the same as “Mark,” and you know firsthand that Marks are bad at football.

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Are Going to the Super Bowl: There are lots of good Matts out there. Damon … McConaughey … um, Harvey ...

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Only Won Because the Lions Are Complete and Utter Trash: Nobody has ever called him “Matt McConaughey.” He’s a Matthew. Matthew is an adult name. Matt Stafford wants us to call him Matthew Stafford, but we refuse, because he is clearly a Matt. The Lions are infested with Matts, and that is why the Jets won. This isn’t even about the Jets. It’s about the Matts. Jets fans should have chanted M-A-T-T, MATT, MATT, MATT!

And this wasn’t even Matt Stafford’s worst game! He’s had five four-interception games in his career.

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Are Going to the Super Bowl: OK, sure. Matt Stafford sucks. Matt Cassel sucks. Matt Patricia sucks. It’s possible that Matts, at large, are not particularly good.

But these are my Jets. Stafford throws a lot of picks, but the Jets don’t get a lot of picks. This was their first five-interception game since 1999. See this?

That’s the first Jets pick-six since 2013. See this?

That’s the first Jets punt-return touchdown since 2012. It’s the 18th punt-return touchdown in franchise history. The Jets have had six punt-return touchdowns in my lifetime, and I’m old enough that I recently thought, “I just don’t like the rap music that high schoolers listen to these days.”

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Only Won Because the Lions Are Complete and Utter Trash: Seriously, what’s up with all these rap songs that sound like emo songs from 2003?

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Are Going to the Super Bowl: Shut up! Jesus, I’m waxing poetic here.

Success is not something that happens to the Jets, even in small doses. You know how the Lions are a laughingstock of a franchise? They’ve been to the playoffs three times since the Jets last went to the postseason. We just went into their house and thrashed them to the point that Jets fans were happily chanting in the middle of a road-game rout.

Great things normally do not happen to the New York Jets. On Monday, a bunch of great things happened to the Jets all at once, and they happened on the night that we got our first look at the most exciting player the team has had in years. It feels amazing.

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Only Won Because the Lions Are Complete and Utter Trash: Dude, the Lions suck.

The Voice in My Head Telling Me the Jets Are Going to the Super Bowl: I know, and I don’t care.