The New York Jets' season has reached yet another pivotal juncture.
After spending the first 10 weeks of the season alternating wins and losses, the Jets finally dropped two games in a row and have slipped below .500 for the first time this year.
Three weeks ago, the Jets shocked everyone in the NFL when they rebounded from a humiliating loss to the Bengals to beat the New Orleans Saints, handing the Saints just their second loss of the season in the process. Fast forward a bye week and two disheartening losses to the Bills and Ravens, and the Jets are 5-6, slowly removing themselves from the AFC playoff picture one Geno Smith turnover at a time.
With just five games remaining on the schedule, the Jets will be fighting to stay relevant every time they take the field. Unless, of course, they lose to the Dolphins this Sunday.
Should the Jets fall to the Dolphins this week, their tumultuous season would be all but over. At 5-7, the Jets' already vanishing wild-card hopes would become virtually nonexistent. With one of the AFC's wild-card berths likely reserved for an AFC West team, the Jets would fall even further behind in the race for the second. Moreover, the Dolphins would improve to 6-6 and overtake the Jets in the AFC East standings.
Of course the Jets will get another shot at the Dolphins in their last game of the season, but it could very well be too little too late at that point.
Aside from the Dolphins, the Jets will also host two other very winnable games in the final stretch against Oakland and Cleveland. If the Jets want to maintain a legitimate chance of making the playoffs, they will realistically have to win both of those games and at the very least split with the Fins.
Between the games against Oakland and Cleveland, the Jets will travel to North Carolina to take on the surging Panthers. Given the Jets' record on the road this season, it's hard to imagine them stealing a win against Carolina.
As of now, the Jets are still alive in the race for the second wild-card position. However, there are five other teams in a similar situation, the Dolphins being one of them. Furthermore, the Jets are 2-6 in the AFC, which won't bode well for them should the berth be decided by a tiebreaker. Thus, a win this week would greatly improve the Jets' chances.
As always, the Jets will only go as far as Geno Smith can take them. The rookie signal-caller has been wildly inconsistent throughout the season and his performance in Jets' final games will likely dictate New York's fate. Smith has yet to play well in back-to-back games this season, which is not a good sign for the Jets, who will need to string together a few wins.
In his last outing, Smith completed just nine passes for 127 yards. He threw two interceptions and finished with a QBR of 3.8, according to ESPN.com.
Simply put, if Smith can't find some sort of balance down the stretch, the Jets' once-promising season will end in disappointment.