NY Jets: NFL Playoffs not in their hands just yet


The NY Jets are playing great football but even if they win out every game in December, the NFL Playoffs are not in their hands just yet.

As many (if not all) of you have heard by now, going into this week’s action the Jets don’t necessarily control their own playoff destiny.  Fans of the Jets will become fans of the Denver Broncos this weekend because of their Week 15 match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Jets play the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night, but the biggest game for their playoff fate will be at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Sunday.  If the Jets defeat the Cowboys on Saturday, they may not decide their own fate for the playoffs.  However, if they lose to the Cowboys it won’t hurt them as bad as you think.

Here are the tiebreaker scenarios for the NFL Playoffs:

  1. Head-to-head, if applicable
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference (Jets best scenario)
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four
  4. Strength of victory (Pittsburgh’s best scenario)
  5. Strength of schedule
  6. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed
  7. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed
  8. Best net points in conference games
  9. Best net points in all games
  10. Best net touchdowns in all games
  11. Coin toss

Numbers 4-11 won’t come into play.  The best case for Pittsburgh is to win out, then they’re in.  However, there are scenarios where the Jets lose on Sunday and still get in.  Let’s break all of the scenarios down.

As mentioned before all three games won by both teams means Pittsburgh gets in on tiebreaker #3.  In that scenario, their common opponents are New England, Cleveland and Indianapolis.  The Steelers would have a higher strength of victory (combined winning percentage of opponents defeated) than the Jets.

In the next likeliest scenario, that doesn’t involve other teams that are still in the hunt, if both teams lose this weekend and then win both of their final games, the Jets will get in on #2.  The Jets and Steelers are currently separated by one win in the conference record, so a loss to the Cowboys doesn’t hurt the Jets as much as a loss to the Broncos would the Steelers.

If the Steelers lose to the Broncos and the Jets lose to the Cowboys on Sunday, the Jets would have to lose to both the Patriots and Bills, and the Steelers would have to win both of their final two games to get in.  A Jets win coupled with a Steelers loss is the best-case scenario for the Jets.  This will give the Jets a one-game lead in both the playoff standings and the tiebreaker scenario.

If the Jets win out in that scenario, they’re in.  However, if that plays out, and the Jets lose to the Patriots or Bills and the Steelers win against both the Ravens and Browns (on the road), the Steelers would get in.

Dec 13, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) carries the ball as Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Peerman (30) chases during the third quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The next scenario, involving just the Jets and the Steelers, has the Jets winning out, but it is probably unlikely.  If the Jets win out and the Steelers win this weekend, but lose either at Ravens or at Browns, then the Jets get in.

The least likely scenario would be the Jets losing on Saturday, the Steelers winning on Sunday, and the Jets winning against the Patriots and Bills while the Steelers lose to either the Browns or Ravens.  In this case, the Jets would get in on the conference record tiebreaker.

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As you can see, the Jets making the playoffs is completely out of their hands.  Al Davis once coined the phrase, “Just win baby!”  In this case, the Jets need to take that advice, and if it happens, it happens.  If not…there’s always next year.