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Somehow, optimism remains for Jets

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Somehow, optimism remains for Jets

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) The numbers and their recent level of performance indicate the New York Jets are done for 2012.

Their comments say otherwise.

Somehow, in the wake of two awful outings in losses to Miami and Seattle, the Jets talk about remaining confident, about turning things around, about eliminating the mistakes that are killing their chances.

Indeed, after coach Rex Ryan again emphasized that Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback despite his sinking play, Sanchez mentioned Monday how ``once things go right, they turn around so fast it will make your head spin.''

Others might call that spin. The Jets (3-6) describe it as staying optimistic.

``I'm confident in who I am and my abilities, and I've said it a million times, I'm confident in the guys who coach with me and play for me,'' Ryan said after the Jets dropped the ninth game in their last 12, including the 2011 collapse in which they lost their final three games to miss the playoffs for the first time in his tenure.

``I know we have the talent, not just as players but in our coaching staff. We're going to get this thing done.''

Getting anything done, beginning next Sunday in St. Louis, must start with cleaning up their on-field act. Although they are in the middle of the pack with a minus-2 turnover differential, the Jets are destroying themselves in the red zone. In Sunday's 28-7 loss at Seattle, Sanchez pretty much threw away at least six points and perhaps more with bad decisions.

Richard Sherman's interception on third-and-goal despite Sanchez having plenty of time to survey the field was costly. So was a fumble on a sack.

``Two plays really stood out,'' said Sanchez, who turned 26 Sunday, but had nothing much to celebrate. ``The sack-fumble and the interception, especially as well as our defense was playing in the game early. We had a chance to take the lead and I have got to make better decisions. Careless mistakes. Totally on me.''

The loss was not totally on Sanchez, although he was a mere 9 for 22 for 124 yards, and the Jets' only TD came on defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson's fumble return. The slump has been a team effort, prompting questions about whether the Jets have enough talent to compete. For the last month, the answer would be no.

Compound that with all kinds of gaffes - missed blocks, poor tackling, penalties, wrong routes run by receivers, blocked kicks - and the Jets have the look of an also-ran heading for a losing record under Ryan for the first time since he arrived in 2009.

``Week after week, we continue to punish ourselves,'' safety Yeremiah Bell said. ``Self-inflicted wounds, time after time. That's something that as players we have to get corrected.

``We're going out there, being competitive, we're playing hard. But in this league you can't help teams win.''

All the losing has ramped up calls for Tim Tebow to get more action at quarterback - he was in for 11 plays, although three wound up as penalties, in the 28-7 loss. It's also brought into question the play calling by new coordinator Tony Sparano; whether Shonn Greene is a No. 1 running back; if any of the receivers are capable of consistently getting separation; and whether the defense can avoid yielding big plays.

There doesn't seem to be a groundswell seeking Ryan's job, and it's not something that enters his mind anyway.

``With me, I will never waver,'' he said. ``I am not going to make a decision to save my job. I am in it to win games.

``I'm not sitting back concentrating on how do I save my job. I am concentrating on how do we win.''

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NHL Power Rankings: A rough week

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Power Rankings: A rough week

The Caps are coming off of one of, if not the worst week of their season. Washington has now lost three of four games and all three of those losses came in devastating fashion.

On Feb. 11, the Caps hosted a scuffling Detroit Red Wings team and saw the Wings build a 4-1 lead in the second period, a period in which the Caps were outshot 17-2. Washington battled back to tie the game, but ultimately lost in overtime. Tuesday in Winnipeg the Caps held a 3-1 lead in the third period, but allowed the Jets to mount a comeback and tie the game with just 15 seconds remaining in regulation before losing in overtime. Then, of course, there was Saturday's 7-1 blowout at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that had lost eight straight coming into that game.

SEE THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

To make matters worse, the Pittsburgh Penguins keep on winning and now hold a one-point lead over Washington. So yeah, things were not great.

The bad news is that, with the recent surges of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and even New Jersey, the Caps have to figure things out fast or they could continue to fall in the standings fairly quickly.

The good news is that they still remain in a relatively good position should they rebound. The Penguins do hold a one-point lead in the standings, but the Caps remain very much in the driver's seat of the division with three games in hand.

Four games separate Washington from the Feb. 26 trade deadline. The Caps will play in Buffalo, host Tampa Bay, play in Florida and host Buffalo. Winning three of those four games, especially if they can beat the dominant Lightning, will go a long way towards putting last week in the rearview mirror. Another tough week, however, could force the hand of general manager Brian MacLellan to make an unanticipated move at the trade deadline in order to keep a playoff season from falling apart.

After a week like that, it's no surprise to see Washington fall in this week's NHL Power Rankings. You can see the full rankings here.

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Game 59: Capitals at Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 59: Capitals at Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, N.Y.

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (33-18-7) take on the Sabres (17-31-11) Monday, February 19 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Buffalo.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 2:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 2:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 6:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 7:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

2:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
2:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
3:00 p.m. — Capitals at Sabres
5:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
6:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
7:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Sabres game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-SABRES OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.