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Jets playoff chances: How New York can still earn AFC wild card berth after extending losing streak

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The Jets suffered a serious blow to their playoff hopes on Sunday when they lost a heartbreaking 20-17 game to the Lions at home.

Just three weeks ago, New York was sitting pretty in the AFC wild card race after a win over the Bears. But losses to the Bills, Vikings, and now the Lions are threatening to bring an end to a season that looked extremely promising heading into December. 

The Jets weren’t projected to make the playoffs in 2022, but to the surprise of many, New York has made some noise.

Both the Jets and Lions came out of the critical matchup at 7-7, but the strength of the AFC wild card race makes the path to the playoffs much more complicated for New York than for Detroit in the AFC. 

MORE: Why Zach Wilson returned as Jets’ starting QB vs. Lions instead of Mike White

Here’s what you need to know about where the Jets stand in the AFC and how they can still snap the NFL’s longest postseason drought.

Where Jets currently sit in the NFL playoff picture

The Jets entered Week 15 in the AFC’s No. 9 seed, though only a tiebreaker separated them from a playoff spot. Despite the loss to the Lions, New York will remain ninth in the AFC entering Week 16.

The Jets might have more ground to make up, however. A win by either the Chargers or Patriots on Sunday would leave the Jets trailing by both a game and a tiebreaker in the AFC wild card race. If both the Chargers and Patriots lose, the Jets would trail by only a tiebreaker with three games remaining.

The Browns, Jaguars, and Steelers are all now one game behind the Jets in the wild card race after wins in Week 15, though time is running out for those teams with the regular season nearing an end. 

MORE: Latest injury updates on Jets QB Mike White

Jets playoff tiebreakers

The tiebreaker situation is not favorable for the Jets at the moment. The Patriots and Chargers both have a better record against AFC opponents, though that can change in the coming weeks. The Patriots hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Jets, so any tiebreaker involving New England (even if it includes other teams) would leave the Jets out of the picture.

The Jets do control their own fate against the Dolphins. New York currently holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over Miami and can clinch the tiebreaker advantage with a win over the Dolphins in Week 18.

MORE: How Miami can earn AFC wild card — or still win AFC East — in NFL playoff picture

Of course, the Dolphins lead the Jets by a game in the standings, but the tiebreaker creates another open open for New York and essentially leaves two wild card spots up for grabs between the Jets, Dolphins, Chargers, and Patriots.

Jets remaining schedule

The Jets will be looking to snap their losing streak against the surging Jaguars on “Thursday Night Football” in Week 16.

Jacksonville can pull ahead of New York in the wild card race with a win and deliver a crushing blow to the Jets’ playoff hopes, though the Jaguars’ best chance of reaching the playoffs is likely via winning the AFC South.

The Jets face Geno Smith and the Seahawks, who are fighting for their own playoff hopes, in Week 17 before a matchup with the Dolphins to close out the season. 

MORE: How fading Seahawks can still earn NFC wild-card berth in NFL playoff picture

All three teams remaining on the Jets’ schedule are fighting for a playoff berth, so there will be no breaks afforded to Robert Saleh’s group.

What are the Jets’ wild card chances?

The Jets are mathematically very much alive in the AFC wild card race, but the loss to Detroit means their dream of reaching the playoffs is going to require some help. Winning their final three games might not be enough, particularly with the Patriots holding the head-to-head tiebreaker. 

On the field, New York needs Zach Wilson to be more consistent if he starts in place of Mike White again on Thursday night. The offense has too often let the defense down during this losing streak, and the recent success of Trevor Lawrence indicates the Jaguars won’t let the Jets get away with more offensive struggles in Week 16.


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