In the space of six days the New York Jets have gone from fighting for potential home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs to simply trying to survive and get in. The reeling Jets are now 9-4, face a brutal upcoming schedule, and suddenly have several teams within striking distance of passing them for a wild-card berth.
A week ago the Jets were playing in New England, trying to wrest control of the AFC East away from New England. Now, following awful 45-3 and 10-6 losses to New England and Miami, respectively, the Jets are searching for an offense that has not scored a touchdown in two weeks and fighting for their playoff lives.
The NFL schedule-makers have not done the Jets any favors in the stretch run. New York goes on the road the next two weeks to face the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) and Chicago Bears (9-4), both of whom lead their divisions. The Jets will not be favored in either of those games and, should they lose them, would be 9-6 riding a four-game losing streak heading into the final week of the season.
The Jets finish the season hosting the Buffalo Bills at New Meadowlands Stadium in a game they may end up needing to win to reach the playoffs. The Bills are just 3-10, but have been a tough out all season and have lost four games by three points or less. So, that game is no lock for New York.
New England became the first AFC team to clinch a playoff berth when it routed Chicago Sunday, 36-7. The Stellers lead the AFC North, the Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5) lead the South and Kansas City (8-5) leads the West.
Right now, the Jets and Baltimore Ravens (8-4) would be the AFC wild-card teams.
Still in the hunt are the San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts and Dolphins, all 7-6. The biggest threat to the Jets would seem to come from the AFC West, where the Chargers could overtake the Chiefs -- leaving Kansas City and New York to fight for the final wild-card berth. The Chiefs finish the season at St. Louis, then home vs. Tennessee and Oakland.