Last Friday, things were very different for the Jets and Patriots.
The Jets, fresh off a Cinderella postseason run and an offseason filled with big-name pickups, were chosen by many to make it all the way to the Super Bowl. They spent their training camp as the subjects of HBO's Hard Knocks, showing the world just how sure of themselves they were.
The Patriots, on the other hand, had just been blown out of the postseason by the Baltimore Ravens. They'd had a strong draft, but with a young, inexperienced defense, they were not on most analysts' Super Bowl radar.
One week can make all the difference.
On Sunday, the Patriots faced a difficult matchup against a Bengals team featuring a powerful duo of Chad Ochocinco and Terell Owens at wide receiver. A tough test for that young defense--a test they proved more than equal to, only really letting the Bengals put points on the board with a second-half prevent strategy that was made possible by the offense building a huge lead.
On Monday, the Jets opened their shiny new stadium with a loss to the Ravens that exposed some major flaws on both sides of the ball.
Now, to be sure that hasn't shut the Jets up. Mark Sanchez wasted no time in letting the words "fifteen and one" escape his mouth, and I doubt Rex Ryan is about to roll over anytime soon. But I can't imagine everyone's feeling quite as full of themselves in the Meadowlands as they were before.
The Patriots on the other hand...well, Ian Rapoport says they're dancing...
...there was plenty of dancing.
It's true. Old-school rap was blaring from the speakers, specifically Snoop Dogg's and 2Pac's "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" and Nas' "Hate Me Now." And there was a generally relaxed atmosphere with a lot of banter between the players.
"(It's) just a decoy," Mayo said. "So then everybody can be like, even if he goes out and has a great game, everybody will be like, ‘Oh, he's the greatest, he has a tender hamstring. . . . I'm not buying into that."
And even playing Call of Duty.
So is this a good thing? After all, it was a cocky Jets team that had its season get off to such a poor start.
On the one hand, a more relaxed Patriots team isn't the same as a cocky Jets team. This is still Bill Belichick's house. I can't imagine he's going to tolerate a lack of focus from anyone. But more relaxed can mean less fire--something the Jets can be expected to have a lot of after starting out 0-1.
Only time will tell what will go down between these two rivals on Sunday, and making a big deal over side-antics in practice is probably going a ways too far. But even the most confident of teams can find themselves blindsided by any opponent, much less one as strong as the Jets. And we shouldn't have to look very far to learn that lesson.
Hopefully, this week won't see any more big turnarounds.