The New York Jets (9-5) assured themselves of a winning season for the first time since 2010 with their 19-16 win over the Dallas Cowboys at Met Life Stadium on Saturday night. The Associated Press reported that while the Jets’ victory over the Cowboys boosted their chances of reaching the playoffs for the first time in five years, they still need to win out to have a chance to make it a reality.
New York has won four straight and is currently in a three-team battle for the AFC’s two wild card spots. The Jets have two divisional games remaining as they host arch-nemesis New England on Sunday and then conclude their season in Buffalo.
New York finds itself slotted in the seventh position in the playoff race, and the Jets are behind both Kansas City (9-5) and Pittsburgh (9-5) as a result of losing out on tie-breakers. The Chiefs defeated Baltimore 34-14 for their eighth straight win, and the Steelers shocked Denver (10-4) 34-27 as they came back from a 17-point deficit.
Do the Jets have a realistic shot of making the playoffs?
Yes, but they need some help. First of all, New York needs to take care of its own business though that won’t be easy.
“If the football gods deem that we are worthy, and somehow we win these last two games, maybe we will, maybe we won’t (get in),” Jets coach Todd Bowles told reporters Monday during a conference call. “But you can’t worry about it because you can’t control it.”
New York has lost three straight to New England (12-2) and are just 2-8 in their last 10 against their rival to the north. The Jets’ last win over the Patriots came in 2013 at home, so that is something Jets’ fans can hang their hats on.
The good news is that New York is currently healthier than New England.
It won’t get any easier for the Jets when they head upstate to Buffalo for the season finale as Rex Ryan will once again want revenge against his former team. New York has lost four straight and four-of-five to their Western New York rivals.
Sure, Buffalo is reeling from not ending their long playoff drought as the Bills are predicted to do, and they have dropped two in a row. Still, the Bills (6-8) will want to win its final two games to finish 0.500 as well as spoil the Jets season.
Even if New York does win out, it doesn’t guarantee them a playoff berth.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN, the Jets need the Steelers, Broncos, or Chiefs to lose at least one game to reach the playoffs. ESPN’s Football Power Index give the Jets a 26 percent chance of making the playoffs.
Pittsburgh travels to Baltimore (4-10) and then hosts Cleveland (3-11). In the meanwhile, Kansas City has two home games left (San Diego (3-11) and Oakland (6-8)) as does Denver (Cincinnati (11-3) and San Diego).
Cimini added that it may be in the best interest of the Jets that the Chiefs overtake the Broncos (10-4) for the AFC West divisional title. New York owns the tie-breaker over Denver as a result of possessing a better conference record.
The Jets have struggled offensively at times during the past four weeks, needing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to engineer comebacks in two-of-the-past three weeks.
Against the Cowboys, Fitzpatrick overcame a sloppy game by orchestrating an eight-play, 58-yard drive to set up Randy Bullock’s game-winning field goal. The big play was a 43-yard strike to Kenbrell Thompkins, a seldom-used backup. Fitzpatrick finished the game completing 26-of-39 passes for 299 yards and one touchdown to go along with one interception, but he could have ended up with a couple more picks.
Another concern for the Jets is the kicking game. Bullock, who missed a field goal and extra point versus Dallas, is 18-of-21 on his extra point tries and 16-of-19 on field goal attempts this year. However, his missed extra point attempt was his first with New York as he spent the first three weeks of the season with Houston.
The good news is that Jets defense has started playing well again after struggling weeks 7-11. New York has surrendered 16 points a game over the past four games. The Jets have forced 11 turnovers and recorded 10 sacks.
In addition, New York has the league’s second-best rushing defense. The Jets permit 82.8 yards a game on the ground and have allowed just two rushing touchdowns while also causing six fumbles, recovering four.
[Photo by Brandon Wade/AP]