A Quick Recap of Last Week in JetNation:
Jets are Handed a Difficult 2016 Schedule
The 2016 NFL schedule was released on Thursday, and the Jets’ schedule is a daunting one. In 2015 the Jets were given a relatively average SoS (strength of schedule) rating at .488, ranked 18th most difficult schedule in the league. This season they weren’t as lucky, getting a .531 rating, good enough to tie for the seventh most difficult schedule in the league. The SoS rating is based on all 16 opponent’s combined overall records from the previous season. The Jets will play six of their first nine games on the road. Five of their first six opponents are playoff teams from last season, the exception being the Buffalo Bills. The season will end with back-to-back short weeks and three games in the span of 13 days. The Jets will have five prime-time games for only the third time in franchise history: two Monday night games, two Thursday night games (one on Saturday), and a Sunday night game. Here’s some thoughts and predictions on each game:
- Week 1: 9/11, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Cincinnati Bengals – The Jets will open the season at home against the Bengals on the fifteenth anniversary of September 11th. It will be an emotional atmosphere, and a difficult game for Todd Bowles and the Jets to start the season with. The Bengals will be without linebacker Vontaze Burfict, giving the Jets a slight advantage. It will be difficult for the Jets to contain Andy Dalton and a diverse offense, but the Jets get it done at home. Score: 27-21, Record: 1-0
- Week 2: 9/15, Thursday, 8:25 p.m., at Buffalo Bills – The Jets will take a trip back to where their season ended in dismal fashion last year. Rex Ryan will be eager to keep his undefeated streak alive against his former team, and will have his players fired up for the early prime-time match up. If Ryan Fitzpatrick is the quarterback for the Jets this coming season, the outlook is bleak for this game. Fitzpatrick has a 1-8 record against Rex Ryan coached teams. The trip back to where their season ended will be too much for the Jets, and Rex will keep his streak against the Jets alive. Score: 28-10, Record: 1-1
- Week 3: 9/25, Sunday, 4:25 p.m., at Kansas City Chiefs – The Jets will head into one of the most difficult stadiums to visit in the NFL, Arrowhead Stadium. They will get a few extra days to prepare for the contest after a Thursday night game. Although Arrowhead and Andy Reid will give the Jets some troubles, they will pull off the upset. Score: 21-14, Record: 2-1
- Week 4: 10/2, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Seattle Seahawks – Pete Carroll and the Seahawks will visit MetLife Stadium for the first time since their Super Bowl XLVIII victory. The last time the Jets played the Seahawks they were crushed 28-7, although that was at Century Link Field in Seattle. This will be the only home game in a five game span, but the Seahawks and Russell Wilson will overpower the Jets. Score: 35-13, Record: 2-2
- Week 5: 10/9, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., at Pittsburgh Steelers – The Jets are historically bad against the Steelers, only winning five of the 24 match ups since 1970. The offense will need to be firing on all cylinders to keep up with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown at home. The trend will continue and the Jets won’t be able to stop the Steelers. Score: 21-20, Record: 2-3
- Week 6: 10/17, Monday, 8:30 p.m., at Arizona Cardinals – This will be one of the most interesting games of the season as Todd Bowles faces off against his mentor in Bruce Arians. Bowles and Arians have a long history together. Bowles played for Arians at Temple, and most recently Bowles served as the defensive coordinator for Arians in Arizona. It will be a great clash between two great coaches out in the desert. The pupil will defeat the mentor this time, with the defense making enough plays to take the day for the Jets. Score: 16-14, Record: 3-3
- Week 7: 10/23, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Baltimore Ravens – In recent history the Jets have had a difficult time against the Ravens as well, with the last win coming in 1997. Joe Flacco and the Ravens had some serious struggles last season with injuries, and will definitely have a better season than their 5-11 record from a year ago. With a healthier roster the Ravens will give the Jets a run for their money at home, but the Jets will clinch it late in the game. Score: 28-24, Record: 4-3
- Week 8: 10/30, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., at Cleveland Browns – The Browns are in full rebuild mode with new head coach Hue Jackson. The Browns have been pushovers in the league for a long time now, and that won’t change any time soon. The Jets will beat up on the Browns’ mediocre roster. Score: 38-6, Record: 5-3
- Week 9: 11/6, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., at Miami Dolphins – The Jets have won four out of the last six games against the Dolphins, including two last season. This should be a go ahead win for the Jets, but they will fall to their rivals in Miami. Score: 17-14, Record: 5-4
- Week 10: 11/13, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Los Angeles Rams – The newly relocated Rams will have a rookie quarterback at the helm after trading up for the first pick in the upcoming draft. In all likelihood the Rams will have either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz at the helm. The rookie quarterback will have a tough game against Todd Bowles’ blitz-happy defense. The Jets take it in a low-scoring affair. Score: 13-3, Record: 6-4
- Week 11: The Jets get a break with a bye week.
- Week 12: 11/27, Sunday, 8:30 p.m., vs. New England Patriots – Recent match ups between the Jets and Patriots have been very close games. The Jets haven’t won against the Patriots twice in a row since 2008-2009. Todd Bowles will end that streak with a big victory in a prime-time match up with the Jets’ biggest rival. Score: 30-23, Record: 7-4
- Week 13: 12/5, Monday, 8:30 p.m., vs. Indianapolis Colts – Last season the Jets took Andrew Luck and the Colts behind the woodshed in a 20-7 victory. Andrew Luck hasn’t beaten the Jets since entering the NFL, including the most recent 20-7 loss, and another 35-9 loss in 2012. This time Luck and the Colts will get the better of the Jets. Score: 35-28, Record: 7-5
- Week 14: 12/11, Sunday, 4:25 p.m., at San Francisco 49ers – After playing on Monday night, the Jets will take a trip out west to San Francisco on Sunday. It will be difficult to fly west after having a short week, but the Jets will be able to handle Chip Kelly’s new team. Colin Kaepernick will get benched for Blaine Gabbert after throwing three interceptions to seal the win for the Jets. Score: 24-17, Record: 8-5
- Week 15: 12/17, Saturday, 8:25 p.m., vs. Miami Dolphins – The Jets will be playing Saturday night after two short weeks in a row. The Dolphins have a new head coach in Adam Gase after firing Joe Philbin. Although Miami will have a new head coach, the tough schedule will catch up to the Jets as they let another close game slip away. Score: 20-17, Record: 8-6
- Week 16: 12/24, Saturday, 1:00 p.m., at New England Patriots – The Jets will play the Patriots on Christmas eve. The last time the Jets squared off against the Patriots during a holiday was on Thanksgiving in 2012. That game was one of the Jets’ worst in recent memory, a 49-19 trouncing. As much as the Jets would like to make it a three game win streak, Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense will get the better of the Jets in New England. Score: 38-24, Record: 8-7
- Week 17: 1/1, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Buffalo Bills – For the second year in a row, the Jets will end the season against their former head coach Rex Ryan. Rex would love nothing more than ending the Jets’ season with a defeat twice in a row. This time the Jets will prevail at home against their former head coach and end the season on a high note. Score: 28-21, Final Record: 9-7
With a significantly tougher schedule it’s possible the Jets could take a step back. Play makers such as Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, and Eric Decker will keep the Jets in contention, but it might not be enough. It would be tough to say whether or not a 9-7 record will be good enough to earn a playoff berth, but in the competitive AFC conference it might be a stretch. Last season the Jets were kept out of the playoffs with a 10-6 record. At this point it’s difficult to make accurate predictions seeing as the Jets starting quarterback spot is still up in the air. The Jets’ playoff chances could vary greatly depending on who they have starting under center.
Other than the schedule release it was quiet week for the Jets. The Jets announced the signing of backup tackle Ben Ijalana who will likely retake his spot at left tackle behind newly acquired Ryan Clady. Paxton Lynch visited with the Jets during the week. Lynch is the only quarterback out of the top three in the draft that has a realistic chance of being on the board at 20 when the Jets are on the clock. There have been rumors that the Jets inquired about moving up to the #1 spot in the draft before the Rams made the move. This has fueled speculation that not only are the Jets trying to move up to draft a quarterback, but also that Muhammad Wilkerson was a part of the deal. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Jets move Muhammad Wilkerson before the draft, and if so, for what price. News broke Sunday that the Houston Texans are releasing Brian Hoyer. Hoyer was targeted by the Jets last off-season before they traded for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Hoyer could be a fallback option for the Jets, or at the very least a means to try to gain more leverage in negotiations with Fitzpatrick. According to the NFLPA the Jets have $3.8 million in cap space, enough to sign all six of their current draft picks.