Dolphins' Loss to the Colts Should Give Jets Fans Renewed Hope

Rocco ConstantinoContributor INovember 4, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 04: Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins reacts after losing the ball on a hit by Dwight Freeney #93 of the Indianapolis Colts during the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 4, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With the New York Jets on a bye in Week 9, there wasn't much to do this week except root for your fantasy teams and hope the Dolphins lose.

Regardless of how you did in your fantasy league, every Jets fan should be ecstatic that the Dolphins fell to the Colts 23-20.

Jets fans obviously root for the Dolphins to lose most weeks, even in recent seasons in which the Dolphins have been mostly insignificant. However, today's loss held extra meaning.

Despite a 3-5 record, the Jets still harbor playoff hopes.

With a weak second-half schedule and an even weaker AFC, a 9-7 or even 8-8 record could get a team in the playoffs if they hold certain tiebreakers.

While it's too early to break down every single playoff scenario, one thing is certain after the result of today's Dolphins game.

If there is a three-way tie between the Jets, Colts and Dolphins, the Jets will hold an important tiebreaker by virtue of a 2-1 record among that grouping.

As it stands now, the Jets look to be battling for one of two wild-card spots among a group that should include the Steelers, Chargers, Colts, Bengals, Dolphins and Chargers or Broncos.

The Jets have already lost to the Steelers, who have a ton of talent and figure to be one of the favorites for the top wild-card spot. After that, the Jets have as good a chance as anyone to go after that final spot.

All the teams in contention certainly have their strong points, but each team has fatal flaws as well; just like the Jets.

After play was completed in Week 9, the Jets stand in the No. 9 spot in the AFC.  

In the No. 8 spot right now are the Dolphins, who after today's loss are 4-4. The Dolphins have two games remaining against the Patriots, a meeting in San Francisco against the 49ers, a home game against the Seahawks and two meetings against the AFC East rival Bills.  

Considering their schedule against the Jets, it's clear the Jets have an easier path. The Jets' remaining opponents have a combined record of 27-39. The Dolphins' remaining opponents have a combined record of 30-35.

The Jets have just two AFC East tilts left while the Dolphins have four remaining. The Dolphins do have just three road games left while the Jets have five.

If the Jets are still alive by Week 16, their home game with the Chargers could have huge implications for the playoffs.

The Broncos have a leg up on the AFC West and with Peyton Manning looking at the top of his game, figure to outlast the Chargers there.

Just based on talent, the Chargers appear good enough to make a significant push for a wild-card spot the rest of the way. Their remaining opponents have a combined record of 28-32.

The Chargers have four road games remaining though, including trips to play at the Broncos, Steelers and Jets.  For a team that doesn't travel well, it doesn't figure that the Chargers are going to be making a sprint to 10 wins or more.

The Colts currently sit in the No. 5 spot in the AFC playoff picture after their win today. At 5-3, they surely have a leg up on the competition.  

However, they have yet to play the Texans this season and have games at Detroit and at New England. 

As much as Andrew Luck embarrassed the Dolphins today, remember that he came into this week with a lower completion percentage and quarterback rating than than Mark Sanchez.

So while all the pundits will declare that this performance proved that Luck is the second coming, there are a few things to remember.  

Most notably, the Dolphins have the second-worst passing defense in the AFC.  Also, this is the same Andrew Luck who threw for 186 yards against the Browns two weeks ago.  

This is all fine and good, but the Jets have some problems to fix within their own team before looking at the playoff picture.

The Jets could just as easily finish 5-11 as they could 8-8, especially after their no-show performance against a mediocre Dolphins team at home last week.

However, the Jets have the Colts to thank for giving the Jets something to play for coming out of the bye. Even with a loss at Seattle, the Jets would be far from eliminated from playoff contention.

If you have been paying attention to the NFL over the past decade, you should know that anything can happen and you never know how the standings are going to break.

The Dolphins loss today only means that the door is cracked open a little bit more for them.  

It is now up to them to take advantage in the second half of the season.

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