NY Jets, Playoff Odds, Chances, Scenarios, Mike White, Garrett Wilson
New York Jets, Playoff Odds, Mike White, Garrett Wilson, Getty Images

The Los Angeles Chargers made the New York Jets’ path to the playoffs crystal clear

It was a wonderful holiday weekend for the New York Jets’ playoff odds, as losses by the Patriots, Raiders, and Dolphins put the Jets back into a prime position to compete for a wild card.

However, one more game remained that would affect the Jets’ odds: Monday night’s Colts at Chargers game.

After the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day games, the clearest path to the playoffs for New York was to win out and have the Patriots lose at least one game. But the Chargers presented some alternative scenarios that could push the Jets into the postseason if the Patriots did not lose another game.

If the Chargers lost both of their remaining conference games (@ Colts and @ Broncos), the Jets could have got in with a 2-0 finish regardless of what the Patriots did. Additionally, if the Chargers finished 0-3, there is a slim chance the Jets still could have got in at 8-9 (only if the one win came against Miami), although they would need even more help in addition to that.

But now that Los Angeles defeated Indianapolis and clinched a playoff berth, all of those scenarios are off the table for New York. There is no longer a possible way for the Jets to pass the Chargers.

This means the Jets’ road to the playoffs is now crystal clear. The Jets have only one way into the dance:

  • Win both remaining games (@ Seattle and @ Miami)
  • Have Patriots lose at least one game (vs. Miami OR @ Buffalo)

Los Angeles’ victory lays a small dent in the Jets’ playoff odds. Prior to last night’s game, FiveThirtyEight’s playoff projections stated the Jets had a 92% chance of getting the help they need to make the playoffs if they finish 2-0. That number has taken a small dip to 87% with the Chargers’ win. It would have climbed to 94% if the Chargers lost.

This slight drop is due to the elimination of the last-ditch-prayer chance that Los Angeles could lose its two conference games, which would bail the Jets out if New England wins its last two.

Now we know the Jets’ only hope is to pray the Patriots cannot pull off back-to-back wins against the current top-two teams in the AFC East.

This entire race just got a whole lot more interesting due to some crucial injury news out of South Florida. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is in concussion protocol. Apparently, Tagovailoa sustained the concussion in the second quarter of Miami’s loss to Green Bay on Sunday, but he finished out the game; throwing three interceptions along the way.

Considering Tagovailoa’s prior history with concussions, there is a very real chance that he misses both of Miami’s remaining games – we’ll have to wait and see what the official word is on his status.

If Tua is done for the season, it would make the Dolphins a softer matchup for the Jets, but it would also increase New England’s chances of pulling off the victory over Miami this week. That’s not good news for Jets fans, who will be rooting for Miami to take down New England.

If Miami defeats New England, the Patriots are eliminated from the playoffs, making the Week 18 Jets-Dolphins game a win-and-in contest with no stipulations IF the Jets handle their own business in Seattle.

But if New England defeats Miami, the winner of the Jets-Dolphins game (again, IF the Jets beat Seattle) would still need help from Buffalo to get in. The Bills would need to beat the Patriots in Week 18 to ensure the Jets-Dolphins winner is in. If the Patriots upset the Bills to finish 2-0, New England would be in and the Jets-Dolphins winner would be out. This is why the Week 17 Dolphins-Patriots game is so important; to eliminate any chance of the Patriots being involved in the final week.

Because of the potential importance of that Week 18 Patriots-Bills game, Jets fans should also keep an eye on two more games in Week 17: Broncos-Chiefs and Bills-Bengals.

The AFC’s number one seed is still up for grabs. The Bills can clinch it this week with a win and a Kansas City loss. As long as the Chiefs beat the Broncos at home or the Bills lose in Cincinnati, the Bills will still be playing hard for the top seed when they face New England in Week 18. But if the Bills clinch the top seed in Week 17, they could rest their starters against the Patriots in Week 18, which would be bad news for Jets and Dolphins fans if Miami fails to beat New England this week.

All of this is moot if the Jets do not handle their own business against the Seattle Seahawks. The Chargers’ win on Monday ensures that the Jets will be eliminated from the playoffs if they lose to Seattle.

Win your own games and let the rest handle itself.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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