(Getty Images)

At 8-5, the New York Jets are putting themselves in a position to return to the postseason for the first time since 2010.

The road to get there however doesn’t get any easier. As much as the Tennessee Titans didn’t pose a threat to a team like the Jets, they remained vigilant and furthermore, carried this game as a must win more than any playoff game they could face. It’s not a matter of getting there, this team is more than capable, but it’s setting yourself up for as comfortable a playoff spot as possible. This Saturday it’s the Dallas Cowboys on the road and then the final two games of the season are against the division rivals New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills respectively.

With Dallas trying to lock up their division, they’ll look for blood from the Jets to get their place. The NFC East is so wide open that a team could go 8-8 or worse and still win. The Jets going in 8-5 rather than 7-6 makes the win greater to get to 9 wins and pretty much grabbing a playoff spot in theory. But coming out 8-6 doesn’t hurt either, just makes the job a little harder. It’s up to the Jets to make this season last as long as they can and be that postseason team they were in 2009 and 2010. To come one to two scores away from a Super Bowl in 2010 and 2011 deserves a shot at another chance to get to the big stage.

New England have nearly locked up the division. The team earned a first-round bye with their win over the Texans Sunday night. The Patriots have the AFC East division in hand even if the Jets win out and the Patriots lose their remaining games. The Bills have no shot at the division, even if they win out and their playoff hopes are all but dashed after the loss to Philadelphia. The possibility the Jets win out and the Patriots drop the rest of their games, including the season finale between the two teams would be a dream scenario for New York. It’s probably not going to happen but weirder things have happened this season.

(AP Photo)

New England is always a test for New York. It’s a wonderful rivalry and it may be revisited again even after the series is over. If the Jets win the game, it would set them up for great momentum into the playoffs. A loss may not deter them that had unless they’re fighting for a playoff spot at the time of that game. That’s a losing game with too much pressure for that team to handle. That is why the emphasis on having a comfortable game rather than a life saving game is important. That philosophy will carry the Jets forward.

When it comes to the division rival games, Buffalo is the one the Jets need to focus on more. Considering how the season has progressed up till now, it still doesn’t seem likely the Jets catch New England. With the Bills getting the win against the Jets earlier this season, the Jets would love nothing more than to put their former Head Coach Rex Ryan on the fan base chopping block for losing to his former team. Plus, current Head Coach Todd Bowles has been a spark for the Jets and his staff have performed well so it would be a gift and the chance of a lifetime to coach the Jets in the playoffs and possibly to Super Bowl 50. If the Jets can get past Buffalo and come out with 9 or 10 wins at that point in time, New England will not be able to put that much pressure on them as the Jets should nearly clinch that playoff spot.

Looking outside the AFC East, there are teams who are also vying for wild card spots. Also, all these teams could be potential opponents in the wild card, divisional or conference playoff rounds. The Pittsburgh Steelers most likely won’t catch the Cincinnati Bengals despite the team losing Andy Dalton to a fractured right thumb. The Bengals are at 10-3 while the Steelers are at 8-5, so with Cincinnati nearly locking up the division, it’s the Steelers the Jets need to worry about. They may also be the opponent in the wild card round. In the AFC South, every team besides Tennessee is trying to win division with at least one team possibly going 8-8 or worse to win. The team in second will most likely not enter the playoffs, making the opponent a possible divisional opponent should the Jets proceed past the wild card round. At this time, the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans have the tie in the division lead, with Jacksonville lurking in third a game behind. Finally, the Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) and Oakland Raiders (6-7) are 2nd and 3rd respectively in the AFC West. The Denver Broncos will surely lock up the division so the latter two teams are potential opponents of the Jets. The Broncos may be a possible divisional opponent.

With all these scenarios and potential swirling around the Jets, their best strategy is to adopt a philosophy. “Win hard now so you can play harder in the postseason.” That philosophy will give the New York Jets a fighting chance for the playoffs and possibly, a Super Bowl berth.


Dillon Davis-Tirado covers the NFL, MLB, NBA, Soccer, and Gaming for MFST. Follow him on Twitter @thedavistirado for more coverage.

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