With the Denver Broncos 20-17 overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, the New York Jets become the focus of the AFC playoff picture. While their win-and-your-in scenario was established after Sunday's win over New England, Gang Green now has a clearer understanding of how they can get in, and where they might end up playing come the playoffs.
1) The Jets have to win on Sunday. There are no backdoors involving the Denver Broncos now. Had the Broncos lost on Monday, it would have created a scenario where the Jets could have moved up to the number five seed in the AFC playoff picture with the Steelers and Broncos battling one another for the number six seed. Now that Denver has won, the only thing the Broncos are worried about is beating San Diego on Sunday, and they will be the number two seed. The Jets have to win on Sunday, or get another Steelers loss to get into the playoffs.
It's a blessing if the Bengals revert to their usual ways of buffoonery in the postseason. The Bengals have not won a playoff game since George H.W. Bush was the President of the United States in 1991. Marvin Lewis is 0-6 in the postseason, and Andy Dalton has taken a lot of heat as well for his postseason failures. Plus, if Dalton isn't healthy enough to go, the Jets could end up seeing A.J. McCarran who has proved little command under center for the Bengals.
For the same reasons this matchup is a blessing it could also be a nightmare for the Jets. Why? The Bengals are long overdue for a playoff victory. The Bengals will walk into that game, no matter who it is against ticked off, and I am sure there are a handful of players on that team who remember the drubbing they took from the Jets back in 2009. This will not be fun, especially if Andy Dalton is healthy and on the money.
3) The Jets could still end up seeing the Texans. Yes, believe it or not there is a scenario where the Jets could see the Texans in the first round rather than Cincinnati. How does that play out? 1) the Jets have to win, obviously, on Sunday to get into the playoffs. 2) the Bengals beat the Ravens to improve to 12-4. 3) The Chiefs beat the Raiders to improve to 11-5, and the Broncos lose to the Chargers to fall to 11-5. The Jets would have a better conference record than Denver, and would beat out the Broncos for the five seed. Therefore the Jets would then head to Houston for a rematch of November's loss to the Texans.
The Jets could also end up seeing Houston, if they win in Buffalo on Sunday and the Chiefs lose to the Raiders, while Denver and Cincinnati both win in Week 17. Yes, it's getting confusing.
4) The Jets could also see Denver in round 1, if the final standings are based on conference record only, meaning the Bengals would beat out Denver for the number two slot, pushing the Broncos to the three seed. But that is not likely since Denver beat Cincinnati head-to-head.
Of course all of this depends on the Jets winning on Sunday in Buffalo first.