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Ryan has his Jets pointed up

Rex Ryan created another media firestorm, and some welcome buzz for a dull bye week, when he claimed he would have won a couple of Super Bowl rings if he'd coached those ultra-talented San Diego teams of recent years.

It was typical bombastic Rex. He defied coaching convention by saying what was actually on his mind. And you know what? He was probably right.

From 2004-09, the Chargers won more games in a six-year stretch without reaching the Super Bowl than any team in history. If our pal, A.J. Smith, had better head coaches during that time, San Diego might have gone to the Bowl and even won it.

A lot of people were rooting against Ryan last week. Rex is an easy man to hate, even if you're not in his division. It's fashionable to doubt his successes and celebrate his misfortunes. Everyone likes to see the bully fall on his face.

But just when you're ready to write Ryan's Jets off, they bounce back up. They did it again at home Sunday, surging from behind to beat the Chargers, 27-21, in a performance that surely has Ryan's AFC rivals taking notice.

I'm sure it caught the attention of Bills fans, who wanted to dismiss the Jets as a bickering, dysfunctional mess when they lost three in a row and Santonio Holmes was trashing his offensive linemen on a regular basis.

The Jets were two games back in the AFC East, and optimistic Bills fans had visions of pulling away in the playoff chase. Now, Ryan's boys are 4-3 and a half-game back of the Bills. If Sunday is any indication, those two November games will be difficult indeed.

The Jets outscored a strong Chargers team, 17-0, in the second half. They answered all the big questions: They re-established their running identity, getting 112 yards from Shonn Greene; quarterback Mark Sanchez threw three TD passes to Plaxico Burress, Ryan's new reclamation project; the defense held Philip Rivers to his worst passing day in a year.

The bye came at a good time for the Bills. It allowed them to catch their breath after five tight games and to rest all the wounded. But when you sit back and watch, you get a sobering look at the road ahead. It's nice to be in the discussion, but the playoff chase gets a lot tougher from here.

There are 11 AFC teams at .500 or better. All right, so maybe 10-6 gets in. But it's hard to see the Bills finishing third in the division and making the playoffs. I don't see them beating out New England. The two games against the Jets could be decisive.

The Jets are peaking. The defense isn't as good as '09, when it led the league. But cornerback Darrelle Revis routinely shuts down the opposition's top receiver. He took Vincent Jackson out of the game and the Chargers lacked an answer.

What will the Bills do if Revis blankets Stevie Johnson? Will C.J. Spiller take a bigger role? Naaman Roosevelt? Presumably, Ryan Fitzpatrick will have a shiny new contract by then. He'll be under a lot of pressure to justify it against a Jets team that befuddled Tom Brady in last year's playoffs.

The defensive coaches need to find a way to get heat on Sanchez. He's getting better and has a solid one-two in Burress and Holmes. Ryan could find a way. He's making Aaron Maybin into a player. Maybin got his third sack of the season Sunday. The Bills have four sacks as a team.

Maybin couldn't get on the field for a Buffalo "D" that was the worst in the league. But Ryan gets production in limited snaps. Maybin can't defend the run and is a situational player. It's still an embarrassment.

It's also a tribute to Ryan. He's a great coach. He proved it in the playoff win over the Pats last year. Maybe he shoots his mouth off and creates a crisis because that's when the Jets are at their best.

They're not shutting up, and they're not going away. Not to look past the Redskins, but that game against the Jets here on Nov. 6 is looking more intriguing by the minute.

email: jsullivan@buffnews.com