Why New England’s loss was preferable on Thursday and what to root for on Sunday

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By: Billy Riccette

With just six weeks left in the 2022 NFL season, the New York Jets find themselves in a position they haven’t been in too often in recent memory: in the playoff hunt and playing meaningful football in December.

At 7-4, the Jets sit as the last team in the AFC playoff picture heading into Week 13’s trip to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. They also find themselves right in the mix in the AFC East race.

Thursday’s game between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots certainly would have had an effect on the Jets either way. And while the Bills scored a 24-10 win to move to 9-3 and take the lead in the division, the result was preferable for the Jets’ playoff hopes. Here’s why.

The Bills now sit at nine wins while the Jets are still only on seven. However, the Jets can get their 8th win Sunday against the Vikings and move back within a game in the AFC East race, even if the Dolphins beat the 49ers on Sunday as well. As everyone is well aware by now, the Jets currently hold the tiebreakers over both Buffalo and Miami. They also still have a game left to play against both teams, including a trip to Buffalo next week. So it is still very easy for the Jets to catch both the Bills and the Dolphins in the hopes of hosting their first playoff game since the 2002 season.

The Patriots, on the other hand, now fall to 6-6 with the loss. The Jets want to be as far away as possible now from the Patriots because New England went 2-0 against the Jets this season. The Jets have to finish with a better record than the Patriots because divisional ties are broken first when it comes to the wild card standings, so finishing with the same record as the Patriots is bad news for the Jets, as it drops them down the pecking order in the race, especially with also losing the head-to-head to the Bengals.

So New England’s loss was a huge gain for the Jets, who now sit two ahead in the loss column on the Patriots.

New England’s final five games:

at Cardinals
at Raiders
vs. Bengals
vs. Dolphins
at Bills

It’s possible the Patriots lose each of their final three games. If that ends up being the case, that would be 8-9, at best, for the Patriots. So just getting to nine wins could be enough for the Jets to steer clear of the Patriots in the division, and with games against the Lions and Jaguars will to play, getting to nine is very possible.

As far as the other teams in the mix, the Jets would do well to find an additional win, maybe even two. 10-7 should be enough to get the Jets in, 11-6 should be a lock.

The only other team on the outside that seems to have a realistic chance would be the Los Angeles Chargers at 6-5. The Jets and Chargers will not meet this season, so it would come down to conference record next. The Chargers are 4-3 in conference while the Jets are 5-4.

The Chargers’ final six games:

at Raiders
vs. Dolphins
vs. Titans
at Colts
vs. Rams
at Broncos

That’s right in the middle between an easy and difficult road ahead, but the two home games with the Dolphins and Titans could be the determining factor for the Chargers. If they lose both of those, it opens up the possibility of the Jets and Chargers tying at 7-5 in conference play, at least. If that’s the case, the next tiebreaker is common opponents and the Jets are in very good shape there.

The common opponents between the Jets and Chargers are the Broncos, Jaguars, Browns, Seahawks and Dolphins.

The Jets have already beaten the Broncos, Browns and Dolphins, while the Chargers have lost to the Jaguars and Seahawks. So if it comes down to common opponents, the Jets currently have the edge, 3-0 vs. 2-2.

The Jets still have to take care of business themselves, but they have the inside track, for now, on the two teams directly behind them in the standings. Now it’s just a matter of holding them off. Or just going ahead and winning the division and making matters simple.

So what’s the rooting guide for Sunday? First, beat the Vikings, which goes without saying. Then start with the highlight game between the Dolphins and 49ers. If Miami loses, New York has a chance to climb back into second place in the division and move up in the wild card standings.

After that, you’re rooting for Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game rematch against the Bengals to try and drop Cincinnati to 7-5.

Finally, but maybe the least likely to happen, the Chargers are in Vegas this week, so you’re hoping the Chargers roll craps against the Raiders.

Best-case scenario, the Jets are 8-4, sitting as the No. 5 seed in the AFC with a chance to take over first place in the AFC East in Week 14 at Buffalo.

Worst-case scenario, the Jets fall to 7-5, the Dolphins win to put the Jets two games back in the division, the Bengals win to give themselves some breathing room on the Jets, and the Chargers beat the Raiders to take over the 7th spot from the Jets, dropping New York to 8th.

Simply put, Jets fans are also 49ers, Chiefs and Raiders fans this week.

Originally posted on Jets Wire

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