Sunday's game may have felt like a must-win game for the NY Jets. The team's 20-17 loss to the Detroit Lions may have seemed like a potential season-ender that derailed any hopes of reaching the playoffs.
But I'm here to explain how that couldn't be further from the truth.
The Jets are very much still alive in the postseason race and, for all intents and purposes, control their own destiny following the New England Patriots' stunning loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 15.
If the Jets were to win their final three games of the season, they would have a 98% chance of making the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight's projections. The Jets would need one of the following three things to happen:
- One New England loss (against Cincinnati, Miami, and Buffalo)
- A Chargers loss to either Indianapolis or Denver
- The Ravens to lose out
If the Jets win out, and one of those three things happens, they're in. Assuming the Patriots didn't win their final three games, the Jets would make the playoffs.
Things get a little trickier if they don't win their final three games, but that doesn't mean they'd be out. In fact, if the Jets were to lose to either the Jacksonville Jaguars or Seattle Seahawks, they'd still have a greater than 50% chance of making the postseason provided they win their other two games.
How the NY Jets can make the playoffs at 9-8
The Jets can finish 9-8 and still have a better than 50 percent chance of making the postseason provided that loss doesn't come to the Miami Dolphins. If the Jets lose to the Dolphins, their odds shrink to an unlikely 15 percent.
In the scenario that the Jets win two of their final three with a loss to the Dolphins, the Jets would likely need both of the Patriots and Chargers to falter. That would require the Patriots losing at least two of their final three games and the Chargers losing both of their remaining AFC games.
Seeing as we're still three weeks out, there are caveats of course. The Baltimore Ravens could lose out and complicate matters. The Jaguars and Titans could muddy the wild-card waters if they both start winning. Even the Raiders and Browns still have an outside shot of making it.
But for all intents and purposes, a Jets loss to the Dolphins is the most detrimental thing that can happen to their playoff hopes. They can afford another loss — although it wouldn't be ideal — it just can't come to the Dolphins.
A loss to the Seahawks would be the least detrimental to the Jets' playoff chances. In that scenario, the Jets would likely either need the Chargers to lose two of their final three games OR the Dolphins to lose to either the Packers or Patriots.
Both are feasible, but neither is incredibly likely. So what does this mean for the Jets this week? Who should you be rooting for?
Jets fans should be heavy fans of the Packers against Miami on Christmas Day as well as fans of the Colts against the Chargers on Monday Night Football. A worst-case scenario would see the Jets lose to Jacksonville while both the Dolphins and Chargers win.
If that happens, the Jets' odds of making the playoffs would shrink to a measly 3%. The Jets would need to win their final two games and have the Patriots defeat the Dolphins (as well as lose to the Bengals) to feel comfortable about their chances after that.
All hope is not lost. Despite the Jets' odds currently sitting at just 20%, those odds can increase to as high as 50% if a few results go their way.
The best-case scenario for the Jets? Just win. The Jets essentially control their own destiny and likely won't have to worry about scoreboard-watching if they win out.
Perhaps that's easier said than done, but it is reality. Despite what many Jets fans might think, the playoffs are still very much within reach for Gang Green.