As a Jets fan, last week went very, very well in terms of the Wild Card spot. Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh lost, bringing both teams back to 6-6, and now, there is a very realistic shot that IF the Jets win out, they will make the playoffs.
AFC East Leader
New England (7-5, 5-4, in conference, 3-2 in division) (CAR, at BUF, JAX, at HOU)
The Wild Card Leaders
Denver (8-4, 6-3 in conference) (at IND, OAK, at PHI, KC)
Jacksonville (7-5, 6-2) (MIA, IND, at NE, at CLE)
Baltimore (6-6, 6-4) (DET, CHI, at PIT, at OAK)
Miami (6-6, 4-4, 4-2 division) (at JAX, at TEN, HOU, PIT)
New York Jets (6-6, 5-5) (at TB, ATL, at IND, CIN)
Pittsburgh (6-6, 4-5) (at CLE, GB, BAL, at MIA)
Houston (5-7, 4-6) (SEA, at STL, at MIA, NE)
Tennessee (5-7, 3-7) (STL, MIA, SD, at SEA)
At this point, you can pretty much toss out the longshots. There may be an AFC Wild Card team that comes in at 9-7, but chances are, it would be Baltimore, Miami, or Jacksonville. Those are the only contenders besides Denver that have less than 5 losses in conference. The Jets and Steelers need to win out to get in probably, and it's hard to see Houston or Tennessee finding any way to get in given the number of teams in front of them.
However, for the Jets, there may be a 2nd option to get into the playoffs. With Miami's win last Sunday over New England, the Jets are just a game out of the division. They will likely lose the tiebreaker with either Miami or New England, unless the Patriots lose to the Bills, in which case it gets complicated. So the simplest way to get in is for the Jets to win out, the Patriots to lose at least twice, and the Dolphins to lose at least once. New England does have a matchup with Jacksonville in week 16 which will have huge implications on the playoff chase.
Obviously, beating Tampa Bay is priority #1, and then beating Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati are numbers 2, 3, and 4, but assuming the Jets somehow get that done, let's take a look at the AFC playoff picture, game-by-game, in order of importance for the Jets. Root for the italicized teams.
Carolina at New England
Those of you hoping to win the division might need to wait another week for the first Patriot loss. They need to lose twice, but it probably won't happen here. Carolina should be able to slow the Patriots' passing game, but New England should be able to establish the run and get their defense back on track against an offense missing its starting quarterback and star runningback.
Miami at Jacksonville
Yes, I'm telling Jets fans to root for the Dolphins this week. When all is said and done, both teams will have to lose, but if the Dolphins can steal one here, the Jaguars need to lose just one more game the rest of the year for the Jets to pass them, and remember, they do play New England week 16, so one of those teams is guaranteed to lose. But it's vital for Jacksonville to drop a game as soon as possible. It's much easier to ask two teams to lose once than one team to lose twice.
Denver at Indianapolis
The Colts aren't resting starters just yet, but the chinks are starting to arise in the armor. Granted, 30% is a little high for a team to win on the road against a team that has won 21 consecutive regular season games, but the Broncos have the defense and running game to play with the Colts, and possible even win. It won't be easy, and even if the Broncos lose here, they still have to drop at least one more, but it's a start.
Detroit at Baltimore
The Ravens are struggling, but the Lions are the Lions. Calvin Johnson might be able to make a few big plays to keep the Lions in the game, but in the end of the day, the Ravens are the much better team, and they're playing at home. Baltimore's loss Monday night was huge. Don't get too greedy. But if you want to have some hope, remember Oakland beat Pittsburgh in Heinz Field last week. Upsets aren't impossible.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland
Like I said, upsets aren't impossible. Then again, in this rivalry, it seems that way. The Browns have lost 12 straight in this series, and this might be the worst team they've had since their last win all the way back in 2003. However, Brady Quinn has 7 touchdowns and no interceptions in his last 3 games. Could it continue against Pittsburgh? Bruce Gradkowski says yes. This game is on Thursday night, so if you have NFL Network, root for Eric Mangini's bunch.