Race for that Final Spot
If the Jets are finishing 10-7, the Patriots must finish with nine wins or less for Gang Green to make the playoffs. At 6-6, that means they need to lose just twice in the final five games to make that happen. They face Arizona this Sunday before battling the Raiders, Bengals, Dolphins, and Bills to end the season.
If Buffalo clinches the first-round bye before that Week 18 matchup, they will likely sit their starters, which would dramatically boost the chances of a New England win.
Still, the Bengals and Dolphins will be tough outs, and it's very possible that if they lose before facing Cincinnati, that Week 18 Bills/Patriots matchup will be meaningless for both teams.
If you go with what Vegas thinks and you project the Jets to lose to Buffalo, they'll be 7-6, and we already outlined the teams (Lions, Seahawks, Jags, Dolphins) that the Jets would have to go 3-1 against to give themselves a realistic shot to make it.
Of all the teams mentioned in this race, the Chargers have perhaps the easiest remaining schedule. This Sunday will be a battle against the Dolphins, but after that, they face the Titans, the Colts, the injury-riddled Rams, and the Broncos.
They could realistically go 5-0, but let's just assume they go 4-1 to finish at 10-7. For the purpose of this example, they lose to Tennessee.
The tiebreaker for the Jets and Chargers would be their conference record, which currently is 5-4 Jets and Chargers 4-4. If the Jets lose to the Bills this Sunday, they fall to 5-5 where the best possible AFC record they could have is 7-5 (beating the Jaguars and Dolphins).
That means if the Chargers win four out of their last five games (assuming that loss is to Tennessee) they would still be 7-5 — yet another tie! From there the next tiebreaker is common opponents, which for these two teams are the Browns, Broncos, Seahawks, Jaguars, and Dolphins.
Of these teams right now, the Jets are 3-0 and the Chargers are 2-2. This is where the Jets can make a huge difference. By beating the Jags and Dolphins, even if they lost to the Seahawks, the two teams' common opponent record would be 5-1 to Los Angeles' 4-2 (assuming the Chargers beat the Dolphins and Broncos).
Long story short here is that there is a good chance that the Jets get the tiebreaker against the Chargers if they are able to beat Buffalo or Miami in addition to Jacksonville.
If they are unable to beat Buffalo or Miami, the Jets would still have a great shot for the tiebreaker if Los Angeles loses to Miami and any other AFC team they face down the stretch.