So much for making things easy on themselves.
With their playoff prospects in their control, the Ravens, Texans, Giants, Jets, Broncos and even the Packers messed up Sunday. While there’s no sense in fretting over Green Bay now that its unbeaten season has disappeared, the others had losses that could wind up critical to their postseason positioning.
Or even making the postseason at all.
“Now we’re behind in the hunt versus taking care of business on our own,” said Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, whose team “visits” the equally desperate Jets on Saturday. “We have to wait and see what happens with someone else now. So we have to go ahead and beat these next two teams (Jets and Cowboys) and hope that things go the way we need them to go with Dallas.”
The Giants (7-7) would have won the NFC East by sweeping their final three games, but were duds against the also-ran Redskins on Sunday. That defeat pretty much ruined their shot at a wild card.
The Jets (8-6) also were in prime playoff shape with a sweep of their last three. Then they were equally inept as their MetLife Stadium neighbors, getting routed at Philadelphia. Not only did that keep the Eagles (6-8) alive for the division crown, it plunged the Jets into a wild-card stew that also includes Denver, Oakland, San Diego, Tennessee and Cincinnati.
“If we handle our business, we win these next two games, we’ll be in the playoffs,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said, although there’s a scenario that could block that, too – a scenario his team could have avoided had it won in Philly. “And that’s all that matters.”
The loss that might matter most for Baltimore came at San Diego on Sunday night, a prime-time flop with serious ramifications for the Ravens. By falling behind in the overall AFC race, the Ravens might not secure even one home playoff game should they slip behind Pittsburgh in the AFC North.
The Texans (10-4), who lost to Carolina, might get a pass from some people because they are a first-time playoff qualifier.
Regardless, they went from top seed in the AFC to behind the Patriots (11-3) at the very least.