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Jets' playoff chances in AFC wild-card race

Brandon Marshall #15 of the New York Jets

Brandon Marshall #15 of the New York Jets warms up before playing against the Houston Texans on Nov. 22, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Scott Halleran

All of a sudden, the Jets cannot be stopped. With Sunday's 30-8 win over the visiting Titans, Gang Green has won three games in a row for the first time since 2011. It's fair to question the level of competition during this run -- the Dolphins, Giants and Titans are all sub-.500 clubs -- but the fact remains that the Jets are in the thick of the playoff hunt.

The battle is fierce this year. Technically, eight teams remain in play for the two AFC wild-card spots, but just three boast winning records -- the Jets, Chiefs and Steelers all are 8-5. In all likelihood, this is a three-horse race for the two wild cards. If the postseason began today, the Jets would be the AFC's No. 6 seed behind Kansas City, with Pittsburgh left out in the cold.

With that in mind, amNewYork breaks down each of the principle players' chances of punching their playoff ticket.


Gang Green returns to action Saturday -- yes, Saturday -- in Dallas to face a Cowboys team reeling from the loss of quarterback Tony Romo, a matchup poised to run the winning streak to four in a row. After that, the Jets host the Patriots (11-2) in a tough -- but winnable -- division matchup before finishing in Buffalo against Rex Ryan's Bills (6-7).

The way quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing, the Jets certainly could run the table, but odds are good they will drop at least one of these.

Projected finish: 10-6


What a turnaround! Kansas City followed a 1-5 start with seven-game winning streak, which the team carries into Baltimore (4-9) when it faces the Ravens on Sunday. Remarkably, the Chiefs have succeeded without All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles, who was lost for the season on Oct. 11.

After that, the Chiefs host the Browns (3-10) and Raiders (6-7) in one of the softest final stretches in the league. There's a strong chance K.C. wins out, although the finale against Oakland won't be a gimme by any stretch.

Projected finish: 11-5


Pittsburgh hasn't scored fewer than 30 points since Nov. 1. Winners of four of their past five games, the Steelers can run with any team when Ben Roethlisberger is healthy. Big Ben is healthy right now, but Pittsburgh will host a dominant Broncos (10-3) defense on Sunday in the toughest remaining matchup.

From there, it's relatively smoother sailing on the road against the AFC North rival Ravens and Browns. Division matchups are tricky, but the Steelers crushed Cleveland on Nov. 15 and will look to avenge a 23-20 loss to Baltimore on Oct. 1.

Projected finish: 10-6

What happens next?

If these projections become reality, the Chiefs would clinch the No. 5 seed and leave the Jets and Steelers tied. Without a head-to-head matchup and with identical 7-5 conference record's projected, the next tiebreaker is winning percentage in common games.

amNewYork projects the Steelers to go 4-1 in common games, besting the Jets' expected 2-3 mark. The Jets would match Pittsburgh in this tiebreaker if Gang Green beats New England and the Steelers lose to Cleveland. If that comes to pass, the next tiebreaker is strength of schedule. Worry about that one later.

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