There is a saying in the NFL it's not who you play but when you play them, implying that at various times of the season, teams are stronger or weaker depending on injuries or recent acquisitions by signing free agents or perhaps by trade.
I disagree. An organization named Cold Hard Facts several years ago came up with a formula to determine which games a team would have a better chance of losing and therefore how a team would finish based on the number of QUALITY OPPONENTS they had to face in a season. A QUALITY OPPONENT is defined as someone who currently (after week 7) has a record above .500 and who down the road would be almost certain losses for lousy teams and could even result in losses for good teams especially if they were played on the road (for example Denver losing to Indy this past Sunday). And as you might have suspected by now a team with fewer QUALITY OPPONENTS remaining on the schedule has a better chance to win more of the 9 or 10 games it has remaining in the season.
There is one caveat, for every team, however. The starting QB has to stay healthy. And for the Jets that mean Geno Smith.
But given that Smith stays healthy I have good news for Jets fans. I have them making the playoffs.
Here is how it breaks down:
The Jets now sit at 4-3 and have only 2 QUALITY OPPONENTS remaining on their schedule, Cincinnati and New Orleans, the next two weeks. After the bye in week 10 as of now the Jets have no QUALITY OPPONENTS remaining.
Even if the Jets lose both to the Bengals and the Saints I have them only losing one more game, perhaps to Miami or Carolina. Of course if the Jets upset the Bengals they could even finish at 11-5 but I'll stick with my 10-6 prediction.
That's the good news: The bad news is the Patriots who now sit at 5-2 only have one QUALITY OPPONENT themselves remaining on their schedule, the Broncos, at home. Therefore I have the Pats losing at most two more games and finishing 12-4 and winning the division. Why are the Pats always so lucky, a Jet fan may ask. That's for another discussion.
Finally here's my breakdown of the final AFC standings based on where the teams stand now and the QUALITY OPPONENTS remaining on their schedule:
1 Denver Broncos (6-1)-------------13-3 (5 QUALITY OPPONENTS: SD (2), KC(2), NE)
2 New England Patriots(5-2)-------12-4 (1 QUALITY OPPONENT: DENVER)
3 Cincinnati Bengals(5-2)---------11-5 (Beat the Colts) (3 QUALITY OPP: INDY, NYJ)
4 Indianapolis Colts(5-2)---------11-5 (Lost to the Bengals)(2 QUALITY OPP: CINC, KC)
5 Kansas City Chiefs(7-0)---------12-4 (5 QUALITY OPPONENTS: DENVER(2), SD(2), INDY)
6 New York Jets(4-3)--------------10-6 (2 QUALITY OPPONENTS: CINCINNATI, NEW ORLEANS)