Christmas came early for the LOLJets. The New York Jets (6-9) defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-10, and knocked the Steelers (8-7) out of the AFC Wild Card. The defense stepped up big time in the fourth quarter to seal a fifth victory for the Jets over their last seven games.
The Tennessee Titans (8-7) took advantage of Pittsburgh’s loss to the Jets and moved into the second AFC wild-card spot. The Steelers lost two games in a row, and find themselves on the outside on the wild-card bubble with one week remaining in the regular season.
AFC Playoff Picture
1. Baltimore Ravens (13-2)
2. New England Patriots (12-3)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)
4. Houston Texans (10-5)
5. Buffalo Bills (10-5)
6. Tennessee Titans (8-7)
The Steelers aren’t entirely out of the playoff hunt, but they’re in bad shape. If the Titans defeat the Texans in Week 17 or the Steelers lose to Ravens, then the Titans secure the second AFC wild-card spot. The Steelers need a victory in Week 17 coupled with a Titans’ loss if they expect to regain an AFC wild-card berth.
Even though the Buffalo Bills (10-5) lost to the New England Patriots on Saturday, the Bills clinched the other AFC wild-card spot.
Gang Green Upside
After an anemic 1-7 start, the Jets won five out of their last seven games. They turned the season around after the infamous incident when Sam Darnold admitted on a hot mic that he was seeing ghosts during a dominating game against the New England Patriots.
The Jets improved to 4-1 in close games decided by a margin of a touchdown or less. They also finished the season with a winning record at home with a 5-3 clip.
The Jets have been out of playoff contention for several weeks, but the Steelers came into this matchup at MetLife Stadium with playoff implications. The Jets didn’t mind playing the role of the spoiler.
“It was a dogfight,” said Sam Darnold. “We knew that coming in and we did our job.”
“This time of year is put up or shut up time,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “We didn’t get the job done today. We accept responsibility for that, and the ramifications of it.”
Le’Veon Bell rushed for 72 yards against his old squad. He spearheaded a couple of big running plays on the Jets’ opening drive that ended with a 23-yard touchdown strike from Darnold to Robby Anderson. Bell also secured a decisive first down on a third-down play late in the fourth quarter.
“You know, every win feels great,” Bell added. “But this one had a little extra topping on it.”
Sam Ficken connected on 3-for-3 field goals, including a clutch 42-yarder late in the fourth quarter, to help pad the 16-10 win for the Jets.
Steelers On Deck: Ravens B Squad
The Steelers end their season with a divisional road game against the Baltimore Ravens (13-2). The Ravens locked up the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs, so they will most likely rest key starters in the final game of the season.
On Sunday evening, only a few offshore books opened a line on the Steelers/Ravens game with Baltimore as high as a three-point favorite at some offshore shops.
Once official word got out on Monday that Lamar Jackson (rest) and Mark Ingram (calf) would not start in Week 17, oddsmakers adjusted to Pittsburgh -1. The Ravens, with Robert Griffin III under center, are currently a +1.5 home dog according to lines at the Circa, Golden Nugget, and Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.
There’s also the big question mark surrounding who will start at quarterback for the Steelers in the season finale. Duck Hodges started against the Jets, but Mike Tomlin benched him in the second quarter after a horrible start. Mason Rudolph came off the bench and ignited a comeback. The Steelers pulled even at 10-10 going into halftime thanks to Rudolph’s heroics. Rudolph injured his shoulder in the second half, and Hodges returned to the game. Without Rudolph, the Steelers’ offense sputtered once again.
UPDATE: ESPN reported that Rudolph is most likely out in Week 17 with a shoulder injury, which means fans will be treated to Duck vs. RG3 in the final game of the season.
For more rantings of a jaded New York Jets fan, read the weekly LOLJets Chronicles.