As of last week, the New York Jets' playoff hopes were slim and fading. Depending on if you asked me or Rex Ryan, they were either two or three percent. Without a doubt, those odds improved this past week.
As far as the playoffs go, it was a perfect week for the Jets. The New England Patriots won. Jets fans never like to root for the rival Patriots, but this helped their chances. The division is out of reach; the wild card is what matters, and the Patriots knocked the Indianapolis Colts down to 6-4.
The Buffalo Bills beat the Miami Dolphins, effectively knocking them out of the playoffs. The Pittsburgh Steelers lost, falling to 6-4. All in all, the Jets made up one full game on nearly every team that matters.
Let us take a look at the remaining schedule and possible scenarios to find out what the odds have become.
Scenario 1: Jets go 10-6
Given the current state of affairs, 10-6 is almost guaranteed to make the playoffs in the AFC. There are only two teams who are at all likely to threaten that—the Colts and the Steelers.
The Jets have the head-to-head tiebreak over the Colts, and the Steelers are playing without star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. So 10-6 is almost a sure bid for the playoffs if they can get there.
The Jets still need to win out to reach 10-6; that would be six in a row. Looking at the Jets' easy schedule, they play all below-average opponents except for their game this Thursday against the New England Patriots. The rest of their opponents are below .500 and are teams that the Jets will beat if they do not beat themselves with mistakes.
Against the Patriots, a conservative estimate would be 30 percent for the Jets to take the game, given that star tight end Rob Gronkowski will not be playing.
It is at home, and the Jets took the Patriots into overtime earlier this season in New England. For the rest of the games, the Jets as slight favorites deserve a 55 percent chance.
The odds of winning all seven: 1.5 percent. Bad, but not as bad as last week.
Scenario 2: Jets go 9-7, Knock off Colts
The next possible option is for the Jets to reach 9-7 and leverage the tiebreaker they have over the Colts. In order for that to happen, the Colts need to finish the year 3-3 or worse over their last six games, while the Jets need to finish 6-1 or better..
With the Colts' tough schedule, 3-3 or worse is likely. They most notably have two games still to play against the 9-1 Houston Texans. A reasonable estimate for the Colts hitting 3-3 or worse is about 60 percent.
The Jets have two ways to get to 9-7. They can either beat the Patriots on Thanksgiving Day and then win four of their last five, or they can lose to the Patriots and then win five in a row. Using the previous odds, there is a 7.5 percent chance of going 9-7 while beating the Patriots and a 3.5 percent chance of going 9-7 while losing to the Patriots.
Total odds of this scenario (accounting for both the Jets and Colts): 11 percent.
Scenario 3: Jets go 9-7, Steelers Collapse
The Steelers own the head-to-head tiebreak over the Jets due to their victory in Week 2. However, if they collapse to 8-8, the Jets can make the playoffs over them at 9-7. The Steelers would have to lose four of their last six games against an easy schedule.
Skipping the nitty-gritty, Pittsburgh has about a 20 percent chance of dropping to 8-8 or worse. The odds of that happening, while the Jets reach 9-7 and the Colts also make the playoffs (to avoid overlap with Scenario 2), comes to about 1.4 percent.
Scenario 4: Jets go 8-8, Make Playoffs Through Dumb Luck
The last and least likely chance the Jets have is to go 8-8 and depend on a ton of luck to get into the playoffs. Of the Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Colts, two of those three teams would need to have poor showings to finish their seasons.
The odds of the Jets reaching 8-8—using the prior odds—are about 16.7 percent. The odds of the Steelers dropping all the way to 7-9 (remember, they have the tiebreak) are about 10 percent. The odds of the Colts dropping to 8-8 are about 15 percent. The odds of the Bengals finishing at 8-8 or worse and losing the tiebreak are about 15 percent.
That all comes out to a measly 0.7 percent chance.
How do you feel about a 14.6 percent chance?
The Final Tally
Altogether, the Jets have a bad but not hopeless 14.6 percent chance of making the playoffs. After a perfect week, that is a significant step up from the 2.9 percent chance they had a week ago, though it is still quite poor.
These chances will be heavily affected by the outcome of Thursday's rivalry game at home against New England. A win could put them squarely in the playoff hunt. A loss would put their chances at slim to none, unless the Steelers and Colts oblige and lose as well.