NY Jets: Examining the AFC Playoff picture


Fans of the NY Jets everywhere are ecstatic after watching their team pull off a 23-20 overtime win against the crosstown Giants. How does it impact the AFC Playoff picture?

The victory was all the more exciting because it never should have happened. With less than nine minutes left to play, the Giants had a 20-10 lead and the ball in the Jets’ red zone. All hope was lost, and the Jets were about to suffer a staggering blow to their playoff hopes. At least according to the “experts.”

No-Revis Jets get Odelled again. Oh, welled. Too good. 6-6 Giants just too explosive for RyanFitz Jets.

— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) December 6, 2015

Yet the Jets did the impossible. Safety Rontez Miles forced a key turnover, and the Jets’ offense (led by Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall) did the rest. The team rallied to tie the game with less than thirty seconds left, eventually triumphing in overtime 23-20.

While it would be easy to step back and celebrate after an exciting win, the Jets’ greatest challenges still lie ahead. The team is now in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race, and have a good chance to break out of a four-year playoff drought. Let’s take a look at the updated AFC playoff picture:

If the season ended today, the top six teams (marked in bold) would make the playoffs. In addition to including the six teams that would currently make the playoffs, other teams in serious contention are also listed here. For each team, the remaining schedule is outlined, with the more challenging games (opponents with a .500 or better record) marked in italics.

Because the Jets (7-5) are highly unlikely to overtake the Patriots (10-2) in the AFC East, its imperative that they hang onto their wild card spot. Although there are countless possible scenarios and potential tie breakers, if the Jets can manage to win 10+ games they should have a legitimate chance to play postseason football. Here’s why:

  • The Chiefs have an exceedingly easy schedule down the stretch, and should be able to hang onto their current playoff spot.
  • The Steelers, on the other hand, face tough matchups against the Bengals and Broncos. Assuming they go 2-2 down the stretch, they would finish with a 9-7 record.
  • In order for the Bills or Texans to reach 10 wins, they would have to win out. The Texans face challenging games against the Colts and Patriots, and the Jets will have a chance to knock the Bills out of the playoff hunt in Week 17.
  • Even if the Texans won 10 games, they would likely replace the Colts as AFC South champions (#4 seed), potentially leaving a wild card spot open for the Jets.

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Nothing is certain yet. The Jets could go 10-5 and miss the playoffs or go 9-7 and squeak in. A lot depends on what other teams do. The Jets have a long road ahead of them if they want to make the postseason. But after beating the Giants, at least they’ve set themselves up nicely for a potential playoff run.

The challenge continues next week, when the Jets face the Titans at home.