The Patriots and Falcons will meet in Super Bowl LI. The Jets will watch the game from home.
After another poor season, the Jets are still searching for a way back to the Super Bowl. Their last appearance? 1968. Owner Woody Johnson believes coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan are the right men to snap the near 50-year drought. But after a 5-11 season, many have their doubts.
Takeaways as Jets' Woody Johnson, Mike Maccagnan speak
So, just how close are the Jets to getting to the big game?
After watching both conference championships, we took a few notes. Here are the biggest differences between the Jets, and the Super Bowl-bound Patriots and Falcons:
They're set up front. The Jets had a dreadful offensive line last year. Four of their five projected preseason starters ended on the injured reserve. Just guards James Carpenter and Brian Winters finished with PFF grades over an 80. The cumulative offensive tackle grade -- Brent Qvale, Ben Ijalana, Ryan Clady, Breno Giacomini -- was a 51.2.
The Patriots and Falcons each have just one starting offensive lineman with a grade under a 75. Each has three players with grades over an 80. Both units are healthy, too. Just one projected starter -- Patriots tackle Sebastian Vollmer -- is out of the lineup.
Strong, young offensive coordinators. Chan Gailey, 65, orchestrated the Jets' offense last season. He retired in December. The Jets haven't hired a replacement. While Gailey had a successful unit in 2015, he was awful last year. The Jets finished 26th in yards per game (329.2) and 30th in points (17.2).
Kyle Shanahan, 37, runs Atlanta's offense. Josh McDaniels, 40, is in charge of the Patriots'. The two men are young, brilliant offensive minds with promising coaching careers in front of them. The 49ers are expected to hire Shanahan as their head coach, and McDaniels had interviews lined up before he opted to return to the Patriots.
They protect the football. The Jets turned the ball over 34 times last season. They had an NFL-worst negative-20 turnover differential.
The Falcons and Patriots combined for 23 turnovers. Atlanta also had 22 takeaways, and New England 23. The Jets intercepted just eight passes and recovered six fumbles.
In 2015, when the Jets finished 10-6, they had a turnover differential of plus-six and had 30 takeaways.
They have quarterbacks. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith and Bryce Petty all took turns quarterbacking the Jets this season. They combined for 16 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. Just Petty, and Christian Hackenberg, who didn't play a down last season, are under contract for 2017.
The Falcons have Matt Ryan and the Patriots Tom Brady. Both players are MVP candidates. Ryan threw for 4,944 yards with 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He had a quarterback rating of 117.1. Brady, in 12 games, threw for 3,554 yards with 28 touchdowns and two picks.
Connor Hughes may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Connor_J_Hughes. Find NJ.com Jets on Facebook.