Although the Jets recently lost three straight games, and spent the first 11 games of the season alternating wins and losses, they still remain alive in the AFC playoff race.
While only one game behind in the loss column with three games left to play, it’s going to take a lot of help for the Jets to sneak in as the sixth seed.
Since the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Miami Dolphins on October 6, Baltimore would win the tie breaker between the two 7-6 teams and are currently in possession of the final playoff spot.
The Ravens also own a Week 12 win over the Jets, meaning the Jets would lose any sort of tie breaker to the Ravens as well.
Head-to-head meetings are the first tie breaker when two teams are tied for a Wild Card spot, so the Jets need to finish with a better record than the Ravens if they want to get into the playoffs.
Baltimore’s schedule down the stretch is brutal, which could open the door for another team to leapfrog them. The Ravens play on the road this Monday against the Detroit Lions, come back home to play the New England Patriots, and then close out the regular season by going to Cincinnati to play the Bengals.
Detroit, New England, and Cincinnati all have winning records and would make the playoffs if the season were to end today.
Miami’s schedule is much easier than Baltimore’s. The Dolphins play the Patriots at home, the Buffalo Bills on the road, and get the Jets at home in Week 17, in what could be a very important matchup for both teams.
For Baltimore and Miami, their game against New England should be a bit more manageable now that Rob Gronkowski is out for the year with a torn ACL and MCL. The Patriots struggled on offense earlier in the season when Gronkowski was out of the lineup, and will have to figure out a way to replace his production if they are going to advance deep into the postseason.
The Jets will not play the San Diego Chargers this season, so while the two teams have identical 6-7 records, the Chargers would currently win a tie breaker over the Jets due to their slightly better record within the conference.
Beginning Thursday with the Broncos in Denver, all three of San Diego’s remaining games are against conference opponents. The Chargers finish up with the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs at home, so losing two out of their final three is certainly possible.
Should the Chargers lose two games, and the Jets win two games, conference records and tie breakers wouldn’t even matter since the Jets would have a better record overall.
All of the above scenarios won’t mean a thing though if the Jets don’t do some winning of their own.
Sunday’s game on the road against the Carolina Panthers is going to be a difficult one for the Jets. The Panthers have lost just one game at home this season and the Jets have been an absolute mess all year as a visiting team.
The Jets will then play their final home game against the Cleveland Browns. Though Cleveland has lost seven of their last eight, they did just come within seconds of beating the Patriots last week.
Regardless, defeating the Browns is nonnegotiable. If the Jets lose, they can likely kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.
The season finale in Miami is shaping up to be a big one. Should the Jets somehow remain mathematically alive entering the last game of the year, it becomes an absolute must-win.
Miami won the first meeting between the two teams, so a second win would give the Dolphins the head-to-head season series and the tie breaker.
A Jets win would even the season series, making divisional records the next determining factor.
In a perfect world, the Dolphins will have lost their two games heading into Week 17, and a loss to the Jets would give the Jets a better record within the AFC East.
Sitting at two games back of the final playoff spot, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans both defeated the Jets earlier in the year yet would need a miracle to get in.
Winning their final three games would make life a lot easier for the Jets. But since a loss to the Panthers seems almost inevitable, they might have to settle for winning two games and hoping for a lot of breaks to go their way.
Stranger things have happened though, so a playoff berth certainly isn’t out of the question.