Despite the fears that have been ingrained in every Jets fan as the season winds down (like the teams that are headed for the playoffs only to have the season veer into high draft pick territory...1993 comes to mind) I have one eye firmly on the playoffs this year.
And as such, with a Sunday where I could devote much more of my attention to other teams around the league, since the Jets played on Thursday, I present to you my thoughts on who Jets fans need to worry about for the remainder of the season.
Tennessee: Their win today lifted them to 10-0 - so they will be undefeated when the Jets go to Tennessee next weekend. If Tennessee wins, there's no one the rest of the way who is too tough on their schedule- they might go undefeated the rest of the way. At the very least, they will lock up the number one seed in the AFC by beating the Jets. If the Jets go in there and beat Tennessee (and then take care of business in the rest of their fairly tough schedule - which is no given), I think they have a hold on the number two seed in the AFC. (Goes without saying even if the Titans lose to the Jets, they still have a pretty strong lock on the number one seed.)
Pittsburgh: Boy are they streaky. But by beating San Diego, unimpressive as they looked on offense, I think they present the biggest challenge to the bye week for the Jets (again - last time I'll say it - we're going under the assumption here that the Jets at least win 3 of their final 4 games at San Fran and Seattle and home versus Buffalo and Miami).
Denver: The Jets also have a game against Denver, which doesn't worry me as much as it did at the beginning of the year. I have a suspicion, not having had a look at other games that week, that this will be flexed to the Sunday night 8pm spot, so it'll be in the national spotlight. But I think regardless the AFC West winner is destined for the number four seed in the AFC.
Then there's the wild card:
There are 4 teams in the wild card hunt right now at 6-4 (could be five with Buffalo playing Monday night) - New England, Indianapolis, Miami, and Baltimore. I think one of those teams isn't even in contention for much longer, and since you can't bet against New England and Indy, it's between Miami and Baltimore. I think Miami hangs around this year, and Baltimore fades. So watch those three teams (but don't sleep on the Ravens yet).
There are also the Jaguars and the Chargers at 4-6 - one of them will likely be a non-factor in the next couple of weeks, and one will give the teams at 6-4 a bit of a run. I'm not sure which one, since they've both been such underachievers. But I'm sure they'll put up a fight.
I know it sounds like I'm talking big with the Jets only having a one-game lead over everyone else in the division, and this could all change in a week. Believe me - I'm a Jets fan - I know how fragile this is. But that's the whole point here - we need to account for every possible scenario to make sure the Jets don't fall out of contention. And as noted above, there are quite a few teams to watch every Sunday whose outcomes will affect the Jets. On Sunday, the Jets only picked up a game on the Ravens as teams with winning records all kept up the pace.
And next Sunday, the Patriots play the Dolphins. If the Jets lose to Tennessee, one of those teams will be back in a tie for first place in the division.
It's enough to give me a weekly headache.