Oct 18, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throws a pass against the New England Patriots in the first half during the NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
2015 saw the NY Jets have one of the easiest schedules in the league, which probably played into their 10-6 record. 2016 poses a very different threat with a tougher schedule.
Of their 12 opponents, four finished eight games above .500 or better this season, with an additional five finishing at least .500. Their opponents combined for a 136-120 record this season (.531), and seven of the teams that qualified for the 2015 postseason.
Three of their home games are against teams above .500 and two games are against teams that finished .500, Buffalo and Indianapolis. The above .500 opponents are New England, Cincinnati and Seattle.
Their road schedule is even tougher. Four of the games are against teams with at least 10 wins this season. Their tough destinations will be Buffalo, New England, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Arizona.
According to SB Nation, the .531 2015 winning percentage represents the seventh highest in the league. The Jets are also one of only three teams to face 10 teams that had at least eight wins this season.
The Jets will also face teams that had a +365 scoring differential combined. This represents the fourth highest in the NFL.
Let’s examine each of the team’s 12 opponents in 2016.
Next: New England Patriots
Dec 20, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass against the Tennessee Titans in the second half at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Titans 33-16. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots
As a division opponent, they will face New England twice. With that being said, the Jets have played the Patriots relatively closely for most of this rivalry.
There have been very few blowouts. The Patriots hold 60-54-1 margin all-time, with an overall point differential of Patriots +44.
Their last eight meetings have resulted in six Patriots’ wins, but seven of the games were decided by a touchdown or less. I don’t expect the 2016 match-ups to be much different.
Next: Miami Dolphins
Jan 3, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill sets up to pass in the first half against the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Innerarity-USA TODAY Sports
This is another two-game division match-up, with a team they swept this season. Their coach was fired and they are one of the six opponents who finished under .500 this season.
Many experts see this team as a team on the rise, but the Jets handled their business. Their 6-10 record with the talent they have doesn’t show any progress, which is why their coach was relieved of his duties.
While the Jets have limited cap space, according to Over the Cap, the Dolphins are already over the projected 2016 cap. Don’t expect a much different result from 2015.
Next: Buffalo Bills
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) runs the ball after a catch during the first half against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
This is another two-game division match-up. Unfortunately, they were swept by the Bills, whom they should’ve beaten in both games.
Like the Dolphins, the Bills are already over the projected cap. This means they will not be able to do much this off-season in terms of improving the roster.
This team has talent, but they don’t fit the coach’s scheme defensively. Ultimately, Rex Ryan will be the undoing of the Bills, and the Jets should sweep the Bills next season, especially coming off the way the season ended this year.
Next: Arizona Cardinals
Nov 22, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals linebacker Dwight Freeney (54) celebrates a sack against Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
This game will be on the road at University of Phoenix Stadium, a tough place to play. They will be returning much of the team from 2015.
Their offense and defense was top-ten in many major statistical categories. They also led the league in scoring on defense with four interceptions returned for touchdowns and two fumble recoveries for touchdowns as well.
The Jets’ defense can also get turnovers. So, I expect a hard-fought game against this team as it could go either way.
Next: Baltimore Ravens
Nov 22, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) throws a pass in the third quarter against the St. Louis Rams at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 16-13. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Don’t let this season’s 5-11 record fool you. The Ravens have talent and they will be returning their most important asset back from injury next season, Joe Flacco.
The Ravens played almost everyone tough, despite missing Flacco. Nine of their 11 losses were by a touchdown or less and they even beat the Steelers twice.
The game is at home. With that said, expect a nail-biter that could go either way.
Next: Cincinnati Bengals
Dec 13, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) hands the ball off to running back Jeremy Hill (32) against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
This is going to be tough for the Jets. This is one of the 12-4 or better teams the Jets have to play, and thankfully, this game is at home, which could ease the challenge a little bit.
This is dependent on some factors. The first of course, is, when they play.
Vontaze Burfict is suspended for the first three games. So, if the Jets play the Bengals early, the challenging chess match against the defense might be eased tremendously by that.
Next: Cleveland Browns
Jan 13, 2016; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam (left) and new head coach Hue Jackson talk during a press conference at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
The game is in Cleveland. However, it is still the Browns.
This season proved one thing, they’re still the same old Browns. The Jets opened this season with the Browns in a cakewalk.
For the Jets, if they were to open the season, it would be nothing more than a fifth preseason game. If they were to play later in the season, it would be like Alabama facing Charleston Southern in November.
Next: Indianapolis Colts
Jan 3, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore (23) runs the ball against the Tennessee Titans in the second half at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Indianapolis Colts defeated the Tennessee Titans, 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
This is a tough match-up to handicap. Andrew Luck may or may not have an improved offensive line by then.
Also, the Jets struggled offensively when they forced turnovers. In this match-up, this season, they were able to get five turnovers, but they were only able to muster 20 points.
The Colts probably won’t turn it over five times again, and the Jets will need to score more than 20 points to win, most likely. The Colts will have something to prove after just narrowly missing the playoffs.
Next: Kansas City Chiefs
Jan 9, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) points out to the Houston Texans defense during the first quarter in a AFC Wild Card playoff football game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Chiefs
Since his early days in San Francisco, where they shuffled coaches more than a poker deal shuffles the deck, Alex Smith has become a good NFL quarterback. He emerged this season as in my opinion, a top-ten quarterback.
He has shown why the 49ers chose him #1 in 2005. The game will be in Kansas City, which will make it exponentially tougher than if it were at MetLife Stadium.
Next: Pittsburgh Steelers
Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) takes the snap during the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The “Terrible Towels” will be in full effect in this game. In the aforementioned Bleacher Report article, they list Heinz Field in his honorable mentions section.
The defense will need revamping, and the Jets can exploit the holes against it. On the other hand, they will have their full compliment of offensive talent back.
This will make for a long shootout-type of game for the Jets, which they don’t have the talent for at this time. Depending on when they play, it could be a tough hard-fought game for Gang Green.
Next: San Francisco 49ers
January 3, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end Vance McDonald (89) is tackled by St. Louis Rams free safety Rodney McLeod (23) and strong safety Maurice Alexander (31) during the fourth quarter at Levi
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are in complete disarray. There’s no way they can turn it around in one off-season, because they have too many holes to fill.
Over the Cap has the Niners as having $48.2M in projected cap space. However, there were so many defections and a complete overhaul in Santa Clara that it’ll take several years to fix.
The Colin Kaepernick experiment is probably over, and they will be breaking in a new quarterback. Knowing that, it should be a win despite the game being in Levi Stadium. Bringing in Chip Kelly as their new head coach will certainly help things but again, should be an easy win for the Jets.
Next: Seattle Seahawks
Jan 3, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Thankfully the Jets don’t have to go to CenturyLink Field. That’s the loudest stadium in the NFL.
With that said, the Seahawks have proven they can take their game on the road. They always do well no matter what situation is presented in front of them.
Even without Marshawn Lynch, who many expect won’t be back in Seattle next season, they still field a potent offense. Also, their defense sill is the dominantly known as “Legion of Boom” for a reason.
Next: St. Louis Rams
January 3, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher looks on against the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter at Levi
St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams are much improved. Don’t expect this game to be a roll-over even though it’s at home.
Over the Cap has the Rams as having $32.4M in cap space. That means they could get some added pieces to be dangerous next season.
I don’t expect it to be a blowout, but I do expect this to be a game in which the Jets pull away in the fourth quarter. It will be a hard-fought game, but the Rams just won’t have enough to match with the Jets.
Next: Final Thoughts
Dec 6, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles before the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets have built a winning formula in 2015. They ran the ball efficiently, had timely passing and they played excellent defense.
This offseason will be one where Macaggnan will have to work some magic. He will have to convince some veterans to take pay-cuts, cut some under-performing former stars and make key signings and draft picks.