Now, now, all you doom-sayers, all of you that want people fired left right & center, calm down. We are all small children at heart (that's why we like sports) and playing includes one of my favorite games: the "what if" game. The question here is, what will it take and can the Jets actually make the playoffs. It seems to me right now, that it can (quite possibly and probably!) come down to that last game at Miami.
Who's still in the playoff equation as of right now concerning that 6th and final seed? It's these teams:
San Diego 6-7
The Jets 6-7
and with a very outside shot:
Pittsburgh at 5-8
Tennessee also at 5-8
A coupla weeks ago most pundits ("expert" and non-expert) agreed that it would take a 9-7 record (minimum) to capture the 6th seed in the AFC. But things are very volatile in the everyday world of the NFL. Things change dramatically. If one takes a closer look at the teams still involved in that race it's actually quite obvious that an 8-8 record has as many chances of making it as a 9-7 record. It's all projections, granted, but looking at the remaining schedules not only does it seem that an 8-8 would suffice, it also looks quite probable that an 8-8 team will be the final playoff seed. On top of it, with 3 games to go, it's totally within the realm of realistic scenarios that 3 teams will end up at 8-8 when the dust settles down, one of them being our very own Mean Green Machine.
Lets break it down, shall we?
The Ravens have to go to Detroit next week. The Lions are currently at a very fragile 7-6 and starving for a win after that snowy loss yesterday at Philly. It's a must win for both teams, but it's also an away game for the Ravens and it's exactly away from home that the Ravens have sucked hard (1-5!). The Lions on the other hand are no lock, they do ok at home (4-2), but I gotta go with Detroit on this one. After that the Ravens return home to face Beli and the Pats who, of course, want to keep that 2nd seed first round bye. Hard to call as the Ravens are very tough at home, but not inconceivable that Tommy boy and the Pats will come through there. Even if it takes another tuck rule, another b.s PI call or whatever really. I got the Ravens losing that one in a tough way. In the final week, the Ravens travel to Cincy and there we have a serious question mark. Baltimore will be playing for their lives and Cincy, well, I don't even know if they will sit some of their starters, it all will depend on whether that second 1st-round-bye seed is up for grabs. It most likely will not be. That's the difficult part. The Ravens then, can wind up with a 2 game losing streak going into that Cincy game and we need the Bengals to play for the win.
Then we've got dem stinking Fish. The Fins take on visiting New England next week. I see them losing that one but they visit Buffalo after that, and even though it should be a close call I see Miami coming away with the victory (Miami has actually been quite good on the road so far). And then, in that final week, you know it, it's the Jets catching a bit of sunshine down in Miami. The Jets have an open bill with the Fins, they always do of course, but especially after that miserable outing of ours 9 days ago there's a lot to be settled especially if that game has playoff-implications. And it most likely will have! I see us going into their house and raining hard on their parade. Complete with thunder and lightnings.
San Diego on the other hand, have a very favorable schedule ahead but they need to win out as they lose the tiebreakers if they end up at 8-8. They got Denver away (mark that down as a loss) and the Raiders at home (no doubt there about the winner I would think) and then again at home against the Chiefs in the last game with the Chiefs most likely sitting a lot of their starters. They do go 2-1 in their final 3 then, but they lose the tiebreakers at 8-8.
The Jets. I really can't picture how an anemic offense like ours will be able to overcome a monster defense like Carolina's. Yes, stranger things have happened, any given Sunday and all that, but I just don't see it. Despair not though, as the always reliable to lay an egg Browns come visiting the week after that. The Browns are facing a lot of grief away from home (1-5). They are not a horrible team, but if we can't beat them at home with us still playing for stuff and them playing out the season, well, this whole post has no merit. I think we take out the Browns at home, it wont take miracles for that to happen. And then comes the showdown with the Fins as I said above. It's an away game yes, and it's a long-time bitter rival we need to beat. But it very probably will be a game with playoffs written all over it, and the Fins will have the same troublesome thoughts about us as we have about them. It's certainly not unrealistic that the Jets will win that game. I trust Rex, MM, and the boys to have learned their hard lessons from the demoralizing defeat against them.
Pittsburgh and the Titans are one loss away from being mathematically eliminated. The Steelers should record that loss either at Green Bay or against Cincy at home and the Titans should get that loss against the (very good this year) Cardinals or even the Jags (!) away. The Titans are simply that unreliable. In any case, both these teams need miracles to happen and as of now they are a very, very outside shot at making the post season.
Now, with the big question mark being that Ravens at Bengals game, we could have have 3 teams ending out at 8-8 (Miami, San Diego and the Jets) with the Jets winning the tiebreakers and sneaking through if it all rolls out like that.
Still, I find it rather improbable that:
a. the Ravens will lose the remaining 3 (though 2 of these losses would not exactly be unexpectable).
b. even more worrisome is the part that the Ravens will be playing a Bengals team that will probably be resting starters in that final game in Cincy.
What do you think will happen? Take a vote below.
Lastly, if the Jets finish 8-8 I will consider it a successful season all things considered, whether they make the playoffs or not. It would certainly be a very valuable experience for all of our rookie starters (and they are several) to get a taste of the post-season, that alone is motivation enough. But it's not the point I'm making here. Not making the playoffs will not be the criterion I judge our current Jets, that would be ridiculous if I did. I'm just playing with scenarios here.