We know that the Jets will go on the road to face a division winner in the first round of the Playoffs. Where they will go, however, is still up in the air. A number of things will be decided next weekend.
Let's flesh out some of the scenarios.
If the Jets lose to Buffalo, they will be the 6 seed.
The Jets sit a game behind the Steelers and the Ravens. One of these two teams will be the other Wild Card team. They cannot make up any ground with a loss. They both would at worst have an 11-5 record, which would better New York's 10-6 record for the 5 seed.
More after the jump.
If the Jets beat Buffalo , Pittsburgh loses to Cleveland and Baltimore beats Cincinnati, the Jets will be the 5 seed.
In this case, Baltimore would be the AFC North Champion at 12-4. Pittsburgh would be the other Wild Card, tied with the Jets at 11-5. The first tiebreaker is head to head matchups. Since the Jets beat the Steelers, they would get the nod.'
If the Jets beat Buffalo, Pittsburgh beats Cleveland, and Baltimore beats Cincinnati, the Jets will be the 6 seed.
The Steelers will be the AFC North Champion at 12-4. They would be tied with the Ravens, but win on tiebreakers. The first tiebreaker is head to head matchups. The teams split their two meetings this year. The second tiebreaker is record in division. The Steelers would have a 5-1 record in the AFC North against Baltimore's 4-2 record. The Ravens would be a Wild Card and get the 5 seed since their 12-4 record would be better than the 11-5 record of the Jets.
If the Jets beat Buffalo, Pittsburgh beats Cleveland, and Baltimore loses to Cincinnati, the Jets will be the 6 seed.
Pittsburgh would be the AFC North Champion at 12-4, a game better than Batlimore's 11-5. The Jets and Ravens would be tied for the 6 seed, but Baltimore would get the edge in the head to head tiebreaker because of its Week 1 victory over the Jets.
In other words, there is only one scenario that has the Jets getting the 5 seed. Pittsburgh would have to be the 6 in this scenario. This would be important in two areas. The first is the Jets would host the AFC Championship Game if both Wild Card teams won two games. The Jets would also be guaranteed of a rematch with the top seeded Patriots in the second round since the top seed, New England, is guaranteed a game with the lowest remaining seed. You can't get lower than the 6 seed. If the Jets won as the 5 seed, they would not go to New England in the second round if number 6 Pittsburgh won in the first round also. If the Steelers lost as the 6 seed, the Jets would still go to New England with a win as the 5.
The unsettled race for the 3 and 4 seeds are also important for the Jets since they will face either the 3 or the 4 in the first round.
Kansas City will be the AFC West Champion at 11-5. Indianapolis will be the AFC South Champion at 10-6.
If Kansas City loses to Oakland, and Indianapolis beats Tennessee, the Colts will be the 3 seed, and the Chiefs will be the 4 seed.
Indianapolis will be the AFC South Champion at 10-6. Kansas City will be the AFC West Champion at 10-6. The Colts would get the 3 seed because they beat Kansas City head to head, which is the first tiebreaker.
If Indianapolis loses to Tennessee, and Jacksonville beats Houston, the Chiefs will be the 3 seed, and the Jaguars will be the 4 seed.
Even if the Chiefs lose in this scenario, they will be 10-6, which will be better than the either 9-7 Indianapolis or Jacksonville. Tied at 9-7, the Jaguars would be the AFC South Champion over the Colts. They split their head to head meetings, which is the first tiebreaker. The second tiebreaker is division record. The Jaguars would be 4-2 in division. The Colts would be 3-3.
If Indianapolis loses to Tennessee, and Jacksonville loses to Houston, the Chiefs will be the 3 seed, and the Colts will be the 4 seed.
Even in a worst case scenario, the Chiefs would lose, be the AFC West Champion, and be 10-6, which would be better than the 9-7 record of the AFC South Champion Colts. Jacksonville would finish a game behind the Colts at 8-8.
On paper, it appears the most likely scenario is for the Jets to be the 6 seed and head out to Indianapolis for an AFC Championship Game rematch with the 3 seed Colts. The Colts are playing for their lives and will go all out to beat a reeling Titans team. The Chiefs do not have a ton to play for. They will get a home game in the first round and a road game in the second round with either the 3 or the 4 seed. The only time a difference would come into play would be if both the 3 and the 4 won in the first round at home and in the second round on the road. That isn't likely. It has only happened once since the Playoffs expanded to 12 teams.
It is not clear how Todd Haley will play it, but the possibility is there that he will rest his starters to prepare for the first round. If the Chiefs do play their starters, the Jets might play the Chiefs, although the Raiders are not an easy out. Unless there are upsets, though, or the Chiefs do go all out and refuse to rest starters, my money is on a showdown in Indianapolis.