New York Jets: Breaking Down Realistic NFL Playoff Odds

John SheaContributor IIIDecember 14, 2012

This season has been ugly for the Jets, but they're not dead yet.
This season has been ugly for the Jets, but they're not dead yet.Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets (6-7) are a team seemingly more consumed with dominating the topic of conversation than actually winning football games, but they stand a chance to make the playoffs, regardless.

They created sensational headlines again this week, claiming injured wide receiver Braylon Edwards on waivers after being released by the Seahawks last week (8-5).

The embattled wideout used social media to trash talk Jets' front office personnel, leading to his dismissal from Seattle, although head coach Pete Carroll claims the move was subject to Edwards’ lingering hamstring injury.

Football experts and national columnists have discerned the acquisition as an arrogant attempt to draw attention towards a franchise that has developed a reputation for being highly dysfunctional.

That franchise can create a different brand of headline if they sneak into the playoffs, though.

The Jets seem to loathe and embrace their own criticism. But, none of it will matter if the team most assumed was destined for failure rises to the occasion and steals a playoff spot.

The realistic chances of the Jets earning a playoff berth remain stagnant at best, but they have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL, giving them a fighting chance to upset the status quo and rock a nation full of football fans that abhor mainstream New York and its second sister football team.

The Jets would have inched closer to stealing a playoff spot if the Eagles (4-10) were able to upset the Bengals (8-6) on Thursday night, but that didn’t happen. Still, the Jets stand an opportunity to make a statement on ESPN's Monday Night Football in front of the football world.

Football fans have seen this movie before.

The embarrassing debacle otherwise known as the “Thanksgiving Day Massacre” appropriately pitted the Jets on the brink of being eliminated from playoff contention. The five-turnover performance was exacerbated by the infamous “butt fumble,” which has become a YouTube sensation.

Will the Jets showcase a repeat performance on Monday night against the Titans?

Tennessee has lost three consecutive games, including a bumbling defeat against the lowly Jaguars (2-11), making a national televised meltdown seemingly impossible for the Jets to accomplish.

Instead, struggling quarterback Mark Sanchez and crew will try to keep the masses entertained and push the Jets towards the .500 mark while also staving off virtual elimination for at least one more week.

If the Jets are going to throw a wrench into the playoff picture and steal the sixth slot in the AFC, they need to win their last three games, and the Bengals (8-6) and Steelers (7-6) need to fold down the stretch for the could be travesty to become reality.

The Jets will get help by default in Week 16 when the Bengals hit Pittsburgh to clash with the Steelers. The Jets’ ideal scenario would pit the Steelers at .500 headed into their matchup with Cincinnati.

The Steelers will be at Dallas (7-6) on Sunday. A win for Pittsburgh would virtually eliminate the Jets because the Steelers beat down the Jets 27-10 in Week 2 and matching records don’t aid New York.

The Browns (5-8) loom large on the Steelers’ schedule and will have nothing to play for when they visit Heinz Field in Week 17, whereas Pittsburgh’s season could be on the fence.

So, how can the Jets uplift themselves from the depths of mediocrity to become a playoff team?

The Steelers have to lose at Dallas and at home to Cincinnati, meaning that Pittsburgh would be 7-8 headed into their matchup against the Browns on the regular season’s final Sunday.

The Bengals would be 8-6 if they’re able to upend the Steelers on their home turf, but will play the Ravens (9-4), who are in contention for a first round bye, in Week 17. Cincinnati needs to lose that game to keep the Jets afloat.

If the Jets win out and the preceding scenario comes to fruition, the Jets will snag the last playoff spot in the AFC via conference tiebreaker with Cincinnati.

Don’t cue the fat lady music just yet, Jets fans.

They still stand a chance at winning the most trivial headline of the 2012 NFL season: The Jets make the playoffs.