NFL Playoff Scenarios: AFC Wild Card Is Jets' for the Taking

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IDecember 19, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 18:  Patrick Turner #88 and  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets walk off the field following the Jets 45-19 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 18, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Despite their own efforts to derail their playoff hopes, the Jets are still in firm control of the AFC wild-card race.

Things may feel bleak for Jets fans after a 45-19 drubbing to the Eagles, but through the dust spread by the falling pieces of their destruction there is the bright light of a promising playoff picture.

That is due to the fact that the Titans became the first team to lose to the Colts this season, and the Raiders blew a 13-point lead with less than five minutes to play. Of teams in serious contention to push the Jets for the final AFC playoff spot, only the Bengals won.

Check out the updated standings.

AFC Wild-Card Playoff Standings

Pittsburgh Steelers 10-3

New York Jets 8-6

Cincinnati Bengals 8-6

Oakland Raiders 7-7

Tennessee Titans 7-7

The only realistic scenario that would have the Steelers not taking the first wild-card spot is if they pass the Ravens for the AFC North division crown. In that case, the Ravens would be the first wild-card team.

So, we will safely excuse them from this conversation, and move onto the rest. Here are the schedules for those four teams.

Remaining Schedules

Jets Schedule

Week 16: vs. Giants

Week 17: Dolphins

These are not gimme games for the Jets by any stretch of the imagination. However, the Giants' poor defense and reliance on the passing game on offense is a good matchup for the Jets.

And while the Dolphins have had a late season resurgence, there is still no reason they shouldn't win that game. The Dolphins can't score on a stiff defense, and the Jets will be able to wear them out.

If the Jets go 2-0, they are in. They hold the tiebreaker scenario over the Bengals.

Bengals Schedule

Week 16: vs. Cardinals

Week 17: at Ravens

These are two very challenging games for the slumping Bengals. Cincinnati squeaked by the awful Rams on Sunday, but that was just their second win in their last two games.

There is no way they finish 2-0 with this schedule, and they'll be lucky to win one. The Cardinals have been playing inspired as of late, and the Ravens have already beaten the Bengals once.

Titans Schedule

Week 16: vs. Jaguars

Week 17: at Texans

If the Titans were Plaxico Burress, they'd be going to jail for life because they didn't just shoot themselves in the foot, they completely blew it off by losing to the Colts.

There is no reason to expect that team to win their last two. They will finish the season against a Texans team that beat them 41-7 earlier in the season.

If the Titans split, the Jets would have to lose their last two for the Titans to have a chance to beat them with a tiebreaker.

Raiders Schedule

Week 16: at Chiefs

Week 17: Chargers

The Raiders have lost three straight games. They were blown out in two, and then crumbled at the end of this week.

They have a chance to win out, but it is very unlikely. They play a Chiefs team next week that just shocked the world and beat the Packers, and destroyed the Raiders earlier in the season. They will then play the December surging Chargers.

And at this point, the Raiders can't be trusted to win any game.

Green Tinted Conclusion

As long as the Jets can win one of their remaining two games they will make the playoffs. The teams chasing them are crumbling, and will not be able to pass them.

The way things are going, the Jets may have a chance even if they lose both games, but at that point does it really matter? They'd simply be winning the right to limp into the playoffs and get embarrassed.


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