By Brad CarrollThe New York Jets' victory over the Oakland Raiders Sunday kept their postseason hopes alive, but the climb to the final wild card spot isn't as simple as the one-game deficit might suggest. The Jets lose tiebreakers to both the Ravens and Dolphins, who are tied for the final spot with 7-6 records. The Ravens own the tiebreaker over the Dolphins as well, so they own the sixth playoff spot right now.
The Jets, at 6-7, will almost certainly need to sweep the final three games on their schedule to even have a chance at making the playoffs. If they did sweep, the Jets would finish 9-7, but would still need a lot of help from teams beating the Ravens, Dolphins and Chargers, who are currently tied with the Jets at 6-7.
But the Jets' chances aren't impossible. They are actually quite realistic if, and only if, the Jets can somehow win the final three games on their schedule. That is going to be a tough chore, with a game at Carolina next week, then a home game against Cleveland, before finishing on the road at Miami. The last two games are winnable, but the Panthers game will require a huge upset.
The good news is if the Jets do get those three victories, the odds would be on their side to grab the final wild card spot at season's end.
Baltimore is at Detroit next Monday night, home to New England on Sunday Night Football after that, and finishes the season at Cincinnati, a team they defeated at home in overtime earlier this season. The Ravens could realistically lose each of those games, and a good bet is them losing at least two of them. If Baltimore loses two they would finish the year with an 8-8 record. If they win two, the Jets can't jump them, however, so Baltimore is key in the Jets' quest.
Miami is home for New England, plays at Buffalo and finishes with a home game against the Jets. The Dolphins will be underdogs against the Patriots and favored against the Bills and Jets. If the Jets win their next two games and the Dolphins split against the Patriots and Bills, that season finale could be for the final wild card spot if things go the Jets' way. The Dolphins, with two losses, would be 8-8, while the Jets would be 9-7 with a victory to close out the season.
San Diego plays at Denver this coming Thursday night and then finishes with two home games against Oakland and Kansas City. If the Chargers lose to Denver, and they will be a big underdog, and the Jets win out, San Diego will be out of the wild card hunt with an at-best 8-8 record.
Of course, none of his will matter if the Jets can't pull off what would be a gigantic upset of the Carolina Panthers next week. But what was thought to be an impossible road to the postseason is a little more realistic heading into the final three weeks of the season.