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Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery could benefit the most from Brett Favre's arrival.


AFC East preview:

Bills: Turning corner? | Dolphins: Resurrection project | Jets: Hello, Favre | Patriots: Still team to beat

Anyone who thought the Jets were building for the future got a wake up call this summer when they acquired future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre from the Packers after Favre and his old team could not find enough common ground to allow him back in Green Bay.

This was an absurd situation from which the Jets should benefit greatly because Favre's arrival ended speculation about the future of Kellen Clemens and Chad Pennington, who was released.

2008 forecast
Vic Carucci: If his preseason performance was any indication, the Jets could very well have a better version of Brett Favre than his birth certificate might indicate. He still has a new scheme to learn and chemistry to build with his supporting cast, but his talent just might be enough to make the Jets instantly competitive. Prediction: 8-8

Thomas George: Brett Favre sets New York abuzz and also the AFC East. But not enough to push the Jets into the playoffs. Prediction: 9-7

Pat Kirwan: Brett Favre changed everything for a team that was ready to struggle. He opens up the deep pass game and is so good at executing screens. The defense has outside linebackers who can pressure and a nose tackle to clog up the run game. The tiebreakers for a wild-card spot are critical but three trips to the West Coast make the playoffs a struggle. Prediction: 9-7

Gil Brandt: Brett Favre brings a new energy level to a Jets team that helped itself greatly this offseason even before Favre arrived. Note: Only one 39-year-old QB has ever had a winning season and won a playoff game -- Phil Simms in 1993. Prediction: 9-7

» Jets' 2008 schedule
Fantasy file
Riser: Jerricho Cotchery
Now that Brett Favre is in New York, Cotchery has a chance to post career numbers in both yardage and touchdown catches. He's a solid sleeper/breakout candidate.

Faller: Kellen Clemens
Once a candidate to start, Clemens will now compete for the right to finish second on the depth chart behind Favre, who hasn't missed a start since the George Herbert Walker Bush administration.

» Fantasy draft kit | More fantasy

Although nearly 40, Favre is coming off one of his greatest seasons, having thrown for 4,155 yards and 28 touchdowns while completing 67 percent of his throws. He still has a cannon of an arm, replacing the suspect popgun Pennington has been saddled with since shoulder surgery the past two years, and will open up their offense in ways wide receivers Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery can only yet imagine.

Favre's presence should also help loosen defenses up for the running game, which averaged less than four yards a carry last season. The problem is the Jets allowed 53 sacks last year. Do that again and Favre's record of 253 consecutive starts could likely come to an end. Favre has brought excitement back to the Jets after last year's 4-12 debacle and he is running an offense with decent weapons that just became better because of his presence.

Running back Thomas Jones should find defenses less often massed at the line of scrimmage because of the fear Favre could drop back and riddle them. Tight ends Chris Baker and Bubba Franks (a frequent Favre target in Green Bay over the years) should find themselves better used by Favre, especially in the red zone, and Coles and Cotchery are going to learn to keep running because no matter how fast they go Favre can reach them.

On the hot seat

Calvin Pace must prove that his breakthrough season last year in Arizona was not simply a contract run into free agency. Most of his five years with the Cardinals were unimpressive but last season he made 106 tackles and 6 ½ sacks, leading the Jets to believe he's ready to become an impact player. They paid him like one and if their defense is going to improve significantly he better be one.

Difference maker

Alan Faneca. Normally a guard -- even a great one like Faneca -- is not central to an offense, but the Jets made Faneca the highest paid veteran lineman in the league this offseason in the hope he will bring toughness and stability to an offense that produced only 3.8 yards per rush in 2007. Faneca is sandwiched between emerging center Nick Mangold and left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, who need to take steps forward this season. Faneca is supposed to show them both the way.

Hard row to hoe

The Jets have a three-week stretch in November where they must journey to New England and Tennessee, two of the AFC's toughest teams, and then come home to host the Broncos. That will tell you who they are as a team.

Jets will be better than you think if ...

They can run the ball with authority inside the 20. Last year top back Thomas Jones rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored only one touchdown in 310 carries. If Jones becomes more productive inside the 20 so will the offense.

Jets will be worse than you think if ...

Nose tackle Kris Jenkins' body fails him again. The Jets brought the former Carolina Panther and Pro Bowl nose tackle in to do the dirty work central to improving their 3-4 defense. At 359 pounds he's a load. As Mangini said, "He makes it a 3-4 and a half." But Jenkins has been plagued by injuries and a growing weight problem the past few years and must stay healthy because there is no substitute for him.

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