Breaking Down the Jets' Slim Playoff Hopes After Week 15

Rocco Constantino@@br_jets_reportContributor IDecember 16, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Runningback Shonn Greene #23 of the New York Jets runs with the ball against the New England Patriots during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

With the New York Jets in action on Monday Night Football this week, it gave fans a chance to sit back and watch the NFL action on Sunday with hopes that a few things would fall the Jets' way.

The good news here is that everything that could have gone right on Sunday did.

First, the Indianapolis Colts fell to the Houston Texans 29-17 in early action.  

The Texans were in control for most of the game and the only point where Jets fans had to sweat things out was when the Colts got to within six points in the third quarter.  

But Shayne Graham tacked on two fourth quarter field goals to boost the Texans to the win.

The result that really helped the Jets out though was the Dallas Cowboys' 27-24 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

For any Jets fan who still harbors serious playoff hopes, or just wants the season to stay interesting, this game had you on edge throughout.

The back-and-forth affair featured a number of crucial plays and coaching decisions, including the final plot twist of Ben Roethlisberger's only interception of the day, which came in overtime.

Dan Bailey's subsequent chip-shot field goal gave the Cowboys the win and dropped the Steelers to 7-7.

So where does that leave the Jets?

As it stands now, the Steelers, Colts (9-5), Bengals (8-6) and Jets (6-7) are all in contention for two wild-card spots.

If the Jets want to leapfrog two of those teams into the playoffs, they first have to win their remaining three games against the Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills.

If they do that and end up 9-7, there are a number of ways they can get in.

One scenario that will help greatly would be if the Colts lost their final two games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Texans.

The Colts losing to the Chiefs might be unlikely, but stranger things have happened.  The game is in Kansas City and the Colts are starting the week as a six-point favorite.

In Week 17, the Colts face the Texans once again, this time at home.  The game could have seeding implications for the Texans, so there is a chance they will go at the game full-tilt.

That takes us to the case of the Steelers and Bengals.  The Jets hold a tiebreaker over the Bengals, but not the Steelers in an individual tie.

However, according to ESPN's Playoff Machine, if there is a three-way tie between the Jets, Colts and Steelers, or Bengals, the Jets hold the highest tiebreaker and will gain the No. 5 seed.

To make things a little easier, the Bengals and Steelers play in Week 16, so one of them is guaranteed a loss.

Let's trace the scenarios for the Steelers and Bengals.

Next week's game is in Pittsburgh, so let's give the Steelers the hypothetical win.  If that happens, the Jets would either need the Colts to lose out and the Steelers to lose at home to the Cleveland Browns in Week 17.

If the Bengals beat the Steelers next week, the Jets would only need the Baltimore Ravens to beat the Bengals in Week 17 in Cincinnati.

There is even a scenario where the Ravens, Steelers, Colts, Jets and Bengals can all finish 9-7, and that too would get the Jets into the playoffs.

Follow all of that?

To make things easier to understand, here are the final records and appropriate seedings that would get the Jets into the playoffs.  Everything is predicated on the Jets winning out.


Scenario one:

5. Jets  9-7
6. Colts  9-7
7. Bengals  9-7
8. Steelers 8-8


Scenario two: 

5. Jets 9-7
6. Steelers 9-7
7. Colts 9-7
8. Bengals 8-8


Scenario three: 

5. Colts 10-6
6. Jets 9-7
7. Bengals 9-7
8. Steelers 8-8


Scenario four: 

4. Steelers 9-7
5. Ravens 9-7
6. Jets 9-7
7. Colts 9-7
8. Bengals 9-7


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