The New York Jets’ path to the playoffs runs through Miami
Using the New York Times’ playoff simulator, I compiled a table that showcases the New York Jets‘ expected odds of making the 2022-23 NFL Playoffs for every possible scenario that could play out over the team’s final four games (excluding ties). Take a look:
One thing immediately jumps out: That Week 18 game in Miami is going to be extremely important, no matter how you slice it.
Even if the Jets head into Miami on a three-game win streak, losing to the Dolphins would likely require New York to get some help to make it into the playoffs. The Jets are currently expected to have a greater than 99% chance of making the playoffs if they finish 4-0, but if they finish 3-1 with the loss coming to Miami, their odds drop all the way to 60%.
Meanwhile, the difference between 4-0 and 3-1 will be small if one of the victories in a 3-1 scenario comes against Miami. If the Jets finish 3-1 but one of the victories comes against Miami, their odds remain above 90%. In fact, their odds can go as high as 95-96% if they go 3-1 with a Miami win and the one loss coming to an NFC team (Detroit or Seattle) instead of Jacksonville.
That’s another thing you will notice in the table – the Jacksonville game carries slightly more importance than the Detroit and Seattle games due to its nature as an in-conference game. It affects potential conference-record tiebreakers, specifically against the Los Angeles Chargers. If the Jets are going to lose any games, it would hurt a lot less if the loss(es) came to Detroit or Seattle than against Jacksonville or Miami.
But even in comparison to the Jacksonville game, the Miami game simply carries immensely more importance. The Jets still need to have that game to be completely safe if they go in at 3-0, and if they go in at 2-1, beating Miami would still give them an excellent chance despite the prior loss.
Heck, even if the Jets go 1-2 over the next three games, they could still have a realistic shot to get in if they defeat Miami. If the Jets finish 2-2 including a win over the Dolphins, their chances range from 45% to 54% (the other win coming against Jacksonville is more favorable). But if the Jets finish 2-2 without defeating Miami, their chances range from 9% to 18%.
All of this is hypothetical. It’s based on the information we currently have and the expected outcomes of all other games. As the season goes on, these odds will either rise or decrease depending on how other AFC contenders perform relative to expectations. If teams like the Chargers, Patriots, and Dolphins exceed the expectations that odds/projections currently have for them, the Jets’ road gets tougher. But if those teams disappoint, the Jets’ road could get easier.
The percentages in the table above are essentially telling us the odds we would give the Jets if we were frozen in carbonite at this very moment, woke up in a month, and were told only about what the Jets did over the final four games; basing everything else on the information we have at our disposal here on December 14.
Playoff odds are fluid and will change wildly as we gain new information throughout the season. This is just the current outlook based on how things currently stand.
Here’s the bottom line for the Jets: Win out and you’re in, barring a miracle. There is a minuscule chance that winning out will not be enough for New York, but that chance is well below 1%. It would require just about everything to go wrong – specifically, both the Chargers and Patriots also winning out. For all intents and purposes, the Jets are in with a 4-0 finish.
If the Jets do not win out, they have to make sure one of their wins comes in Miami. Going 3-1 with a Miami win makes them a near-lock. Going 2-2 with a Miami win makes them a coin-toss. However, going 3-1 with a Miami loss makes them a coin-toss while going 2-2 with a Miami loss makes them a longshot.
New York’s Week 5 win over Miami is what makes the Week 18 game so important from an odds perspective. With that early-season victory in the bag, the Jets will win the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Dolphins if they win in Week 18 and the two teams end up tied. As long as the Jets stay within one game of Miami heading into Week 18 (which is the current distance between the two teams), they will have an opportunity to leap the Dolphins with a win.
Week 18 is going to be one of the biggest Jets-Dolphins games in the rivalry’s history.
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