The Jets were supposed to be a miserable team this season. Few people predicted they'd have more than three or four wins. Some even predicted they'd end up with zero.
The fact that the playoffs are even a remote possibility heading into Week 10 is something of a minor miracle - and really, it might not be "remote" at all.
The Jets are 4-5. If the season ended right now they'd be just 1 ½ games behind the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills - two teams they've beaten - for the AFC wild-card spots. Realistically, the Jets need to be at least 9-7 to be in the hunt at the end. That means they must go 5-2 the rest of the way.
Against a tough schedule, that might seem impossible … except that suddenly there are many soft spots in the schedule that don't look so tough any more. It's not crazy to think the Jets' chances could come down to their final game of the season -- in New England on New Year's Eve.
So just what are the Jets' playoff chances? Here's a look at the rest of their schedule, and just how beatable some of these opponents are:
WEEK 10: At Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6), Sunday, 1 p.m.
The Bucs qualify as one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL, having lost five straight games since they barely beat the awful Giants in Week 4. Now they'll be without QB Jameis Winston, which means ex-Jet Ryan Fitzpatrick has to start, and they might be without their top weapon, WR Mike Evans, unless his one-game suspension is overturned. Also, the Bucs have totaled 13 points in their last two games.
How beatable are they? Very. In fact, this is the one game left on the schedule the Jets have no excuse to lose.
WEEK 12: Vs. Carolina Panthers (6-3), Nov. 26, 1 p.m.
The good news is the Jets have two weeks to prepare for this game against the NFL's best defense. That will be the Jets' biggest issue here - finding ways to score. But they won't have to score a lot because the Panthers have been somewhat offensively challenged, and they traded away a big weapon in WR Kelvin Benjamin. The key to this game may be whether Cam Newton is on or off.
How beatable are they? Moderately, but it'll likely be a defensive slugfest and the Jets can't make the big mistake that has cost them so many close games.
WEEK 13: Vs. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3), Dec. 3, 1 p.m.
They have one of the most diverse and explosive offenses in football, not to mention some of the most dynamic playmakers (RB Kareem Hunt, WR Tyreek Hill, and even TE Travis Kelce). Their defense is lacking and they have lost three of their last four, but two of those were to the Steelers and Cowboys, who are both pretty good. It's hard to imagine the Jets' offense keeping up here.
How beatable are they? Probably not at all. The Jets' offense has been surprisingly good, but they'd have to step up several levels to have a shot here.
WEEK 14: At Denver Broncos (3-5), Dec. 10, 4:05 p.m.
A few weeks ago, this was definitely in the "No shot" category. Then the Broncos came off their bye and lost four straight, including to the awful Giants and middling Chargers. Now even their vaunted defense is falling apart and they just benched QB Trevor Siemian in favor of Brock Osweiler. And they have the Patriots, Bengals and Raiders coming up? Yikes.
How beatable are they? Very. I mean, the Giants pounded them 23-10 and ran for 148 yards on their defense. The Jets should run for about 300 yards then.
WEEK 15: At New Orleans Saints (6-2), Dec. 17, 1 p.m.)
Sean Payton is holding quite the Saints revival down south, winning six straight since their 0-2 start. They're doing it with their usual dynamic passing offense, a strong rushing attack and a surprisingly decent defense. Since losing their home opener to the Patriots they are 3-0 at home and when the Saints are going well, that place gets crazy loud and winning there becomes almost impossible.
How beatable are they? In the Superdome? They might not be. Not only will the Jets' offense need to find a different gear, they'll have to do it in one of the loudest, most difficult places to play.
WEEK 16: Vs. Los Angeles Chargers (3-5), Dec. 24, 1 p.m.
They crushed their season with an 0-4 start, but they've hung around in games against the Chiefs, Eagles and Patriots. They're better than their record, especially considering how they're underachieving on an offense that has QB Philip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon and WR Keenan Allen. Their pass rush is dangerous too, but their run defense stinks, and that will help the Jets.
How beatable are they? Very, especially since they might be out of it by this point and will have to fly across the country on a holiday weekend.
WEEK 17: At New England Patriots, Dec. 31, 1 p.m.
Could it all come down to this? If you figure the Jets will lose to the Saints and the Chiefs, they'd have to hold serve against the Bucs, Panthers, Broncos and Chargers. Granted, that won't be easy for a young, mistake-prone Jets team that might just be playing a little over its head. But it's not impossible. And if the Jets can somehow come into this game with an 8-7 record and a shot at the postseason, how much fun would this be?
How beatable are they? Well, back in Week 6 the Jets jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the Pats and were maybe a Buster Skrine dropped interception away from 21-0. And even after they fell behind, they were an inexplicable replay review on an Austin Seferian-Jenkins touchdown away from making it a three-point game with 8 ½ minutes to play. So yes, they could've easily won that game. They probably should have won it. So their chances in New England in the finale? Hey, you never know.