Pittsburgh losing at Dallas Sunday was enormous for the New York Jets’ infinitesimally small playoff chances. Here’s how the woeful Jets – 4-7 after that embarrassing Thanksgiving night loss to the Patriots, aka the BUTTFUMBLE game – can sneak into the playoffs:
1) Win the rest of their games. Beat Tennessee tonight on the road (without three starters). Beat San Diego at home on December 23rd. Beat the Bills in Buffalo on Dec. 30th. How likely is this? I’d say tonight’s game is the most difficult. The Chargers’ win at Pittsburgh was a fluke; San Diego has lost five of six. They looked like a bunch of quitters Sunday against Carolina in a 31-7 drubbing. The Bills are in an equally sad tailspin, having lost three of four, including a home defeat to St. Louis. New York beat Buffalo in the season opener, 48-28.
2) Cincinnati (8-6) at Pittsburgh (7-7) WINNER next week must lose the following week. In the final week of the season, Cincinnati hosts Baltimore and Pittsburgh (lost four of five) hosts Cleveland. Confusing?
IF Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh to improve to 9-6, but loses to Baltimore to fall to 9-7, the Jets would be 9-7 and advance to the playoffs on the tiebreaker.
The Steelers would have a tiebreaker over the Jets (27-10 week two win); the Bengals would not. As a Jets fan, I’ll be wearing an Icky Woods jersey Sunday and rooting for the Bengals. Why? I think Pittsburgh would beat Cleveland at home in its season finale, and I’m not sure Cincinnati beats Baltimore.
All that being said … I think the Titans have an advantage tonight, and win, 23-17. If Mark Sanchez plays as poorly as Joe Flacco or Matt Stafford did Sunday, Tuesday will be a long, long day for Jets fans. [Scenarios H/T: Manish Mehta]