'Every game is a playoff game'

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
10:45
AM ET
Rex Ryan is taking the Jim Mora approach: "Playoffs?!" In other words, he has other things on his mind, like trying to win back-to-back games for the first time.

His players, though, have adopted a single-elimination mentality, continuing Sunday at the Carolina Panthers (9-4).

"Every game is a playoff game as of now," rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said Monday, adding: "That's the only way we can look at it. If we lose, we're out. We don't want to be out."

The Jets (6-7) could be out by next Monday night. They will be mathematical toast if they lose to the Panthers and the Baltimore Ravens (7-6) beat the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football.

So what are the Jets' chances of snagging the second wild card? Slim.

While it's possible they could take it with an 8-8 record, they probably will have to win out to finish 9-7. After Carolina, the Jets face the Cleveland Browns (4-9) and Miami Dolphins (7-6). If they somehow manage to finish 9-7, the Jets can qualify if:
  • The Ravens lose two out of three. They already beat the Jets, meaning they own the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Ravens have a nasty schedule. After Detroit, they face the New England Patriots (10-3) at home, followed by the Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) on the road. The Bengals might not have anything to gain by that point, in which case Marvin Lewis could rest players.
  • The Dolphins lose the finale. If the Dolphins and Jets finish at 9-7, in a two-way tie for the final wild-card berth, the Jets would qualify. The two teams will have split the season series and would have the same division record, but the Jets would win the tiebreaker based on record against common opponents. If the Jets, Dolphins and Ravens end in a 9-7 tie for the final spot, the Ravens would claim the wild card.
  • The San Diego Chargers lose once. The Chargers are 6-7, but if they win out and finish in a tie with the Jets, they'd make it based on conference record. The Jets' 3-7 record in conference dooms them in many tiebreaker scenarios. It'll be tough for the Chargers to run the table because they face the Denver Broncos (11-2) and Kansas City Chiefs (10-3).

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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