How Legitimate Is the New York Jets' Playoff Shot?

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How Legitimate Is the New York Jets' Playoff Shot?
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In a word, doubtful.

At 3-5, the New York Jets sit in the cellar of the AFC East and are two games out of the AFC wild-card picture.

The home loss in Week 8 dealt a crippling blow to the Jets' playoff chances. Fresh off a much-needed bye week, the Jets will look to change their fortunes Sunday in Seattle against the Seahawks. With five losses already, New York can reasonably afford to lose one game and still keep strong playoff hopes alive.

That said, the inner fan in me has still rationalized expecting them to make it to the NFL's second season.

First off, the schedule gets significantly easier for "Gang Green." In the Jets' first eight games, their opponents were a combined 39-25 through Week 8. The eight remaining opponents on the Jets' schedule are a combined 28-39. The Jets only have two teams with five wins or more remaining on their schedule in the Seahawks (5-4) and the Patriots (5-3).

The Jets can bottom-feed on teams like the Rams (3-5), Jaguars (1-7), Titans (3-6) and Bills (3-5).

The next thing working for the Jets is the parity in the AFC this season. With the exception of the Texans and Ravens, few teams have looked invincible so far in 2012. At 3-5, the Jets are still currently tenth in the AFC—not a horrible position considering how bad the beginning of the season went for them.

With the conference wide open and many historically strong teams like the Steelers (5-3) and the Chargers (4-4) faltering early, opportunities might arise for a middle-of-the-pack team to move into the playoff picture.

Reasonably, we can't expect the Jets to win out, but even losing one or two games in the second half of the season might not put them out of the playoff picture in the AFC. Based on how competitive the AFC has been this season, this might be a year a 9-7 team earns a wild-card spot.

Th Steelers still have San Diego, Dallas and Baltimore, twice, on their schedule. The Colts have to face New England, Detroit and Houston, twice, in the remainder of their schedule.

Those are much tougher matchups than what the Jets are staring down.

The wild-card spots truly are the Jets lone hope.

They aren't going to catch the Patriots. While New England still has the Texans and 49ers on its schedule, they simply aren't going to lose enough games to let the Jets back into the AFC East mix.

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of all of this for Jet fans is that the team hasn't thrown in the towel. As reported on ESPN, the team still has their sights set on the playoffs.

Rex Ryan has been vocal about the level of performance not matching the potential of the team, telling the Newark Star-Ledger:

"We're not where we want to be, we're not even close. We're not even sniffing the playoffs, we're not sniffing anything right now, but I want to get there, man . . .  I'm excited about the prospects in front of us."

It seems the Jets have always been a team that likes to slip into the playoffs in the most suspenseful and cringe-worthy way.

As fans, can we really expect anything less this year?

How legitimate is the New York Jets' playoff shot?

We might not really know for a few weeks. If they come off the bye strong and enter Week 12 at 5-5, the complexion of the playoff picture could be dramatically different.

As a fan, I expect them to be playing in January, but that doesn't mean I would put smart money on it.

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