The jolly old Rex Ryan we know and love has begun to creep back into the picture.
The New York Jets coach has refrained from guaranteeing as much as a sunrise in recent seasons, but he sees enough in this year's Gang Green roster to predict a postseason berth in 2014.
"I believe we're better than that. I believe we're a lot better than that," Ryan said of last year's 8-8 squad, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. "Eight-and-eight would be a hell of a disappointment for us. I'm just telling you that I believe this team is on the cusp of doing some special things. ... I'm confident we will be a playoff team."
Why not? Outside of one or two outfits in the AFC, it's foolish to rule anyone out inside this up-for-grabs conference.
Besides, Ryan oversees a solid young defense that grew stronger up the middle with the addition of rookie safety Calvin Pryor. If New York's cornerbacks can hold down the fort, scoring points on this unit will be a chore.
"Dude, I can't wait," Ryan said. "I cannot wait to snap this thing off for real, because I feel that this is going to be that team that I've been looking for."
The old confidence is back, but if he's wrong, Ryan might be making predictions somewhere else come 2015.