Oct 25, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) makes an adjustment at the line of scrimmage during the second quarter against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets achieved tremendous success last season topping off with 10 wins verse just six losses. However, 2015 might have been their best chance at major success.
Despite 10 wins for the New York Jets in 2015, they were practically nudged out of the playoff picture last season after suffering a painful loss to Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills in the season finale.
Unfortunately, 2015 might have been the best chance the Jets had at grasping their first playoff berth in nearly six years, as the 2016 schedule doesn’t seem promising. The Jets have one of the hardest schedules for the upcoming season, which is not a desirable situation for Gang Green.
As they lack a starting caliber quarterback on their current roster, the Jets need to make sure they stay focused and follow the course throughout what will be a tough slate of opponents. It won’t be easy, but this team has retained the majority of their talent from last season and should continue their momentum.
Without further ado, here are the top five toughest games for the Jets in 2016.
Next: 5. Week 3 at Kansas City
Jan 16, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws a a pass during the third quarter against the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional round playoff game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
5. Week 3 at Kansas City
The Kansas City Chiefs had their own Cinderella story in 2015, as they started off the season 1-5 and then won 10 straight to finish 11-5, with their second playoff berth in three seasons under head coach Andy Reid.
The Chiefs defeated the Houston Texans during the first-round of the playoffs prolonging their season until they met defeat from the hands of the New England Patriots the following week.
They achieved a 6-2 record at home in 2015. The Jets, a modest 4-4 record on the road last year, will face a tough opponent that have upgraded their roster this offseason.
With Arrowhead Stadium notorious for being one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL, the Jets will have their hands full during Week 3, especially if their quarterback situation is not settled by the start of the season.
Next: 4. Week 17 against Buffalo
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan reacts after the New York Jets miss a field goal during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
4. Week 17 against Buffalo
The Jets for the first time in years, end the regular season at home. Their opponent will be none other than Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills. Since Ryan’s departure from the Jets after a disastrous 2014 season, he traveled north and coached the Bills to a mere 8-8, .500 record in 2015.
With the Bills finishing 8-8 after completing a successful 9-7 season the year before, Ryan now finds himself yet again in another make it or break it situation. Buffalo’s defense failed to live up to its hype in 2015, however, when it came time to play Gang Green, they showed up to play.
Ryan may not be the coach for the Jets anymore but coach or not, he spent six seasons with them and he knows how his former players think. Buffalo picked apart the Jets last season and ultimately drove the dagger through their playoff hopes for good.
With a much improved defense via the 2016 NFL Draft where Buffalo added Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland in the first two-rounds, Ryan will look to once again proclaim his title of coaching a true shutdown defense. Depending on whose anchoring the Jets at the quarterback position, the Jets best bet would be to win early rather than having their season rely solely on Week 17.
Next: 3. Week 1 against Cincinnati
Nov 16, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) against the Houston Texans at Paul Brown Stadium. The Texans won 10-6. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
3. Week 1 against Cincinnati
The Jets have a 5-1 season opener record since MetLife Stadium opened in 2010. The Jets also have a 17-8 all-time record against their Week 1 opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals. However, the last time the Jets faced the Bengals was back in 2013 where the Jets were obliterated 49-9.
They haven’t beaten the Bengals since 2010. Last year, Andy Dalton helped lead his team to a 12-4 season with yet another division title. They will look to capture another ome by kicking off the season with a Week 1 victory over the Jets.
While the Jets’ defense notoriously enters each season as a threat to opposing teams offenses, Gang Green will have to successfully shut down A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, and make Dalton as uncomfortable as possible if they wish to extend their Week 1 record to 6-1.
As long as they can shutdown their key offensive players, stuff the run and supply a consistent pass rush, the Jets will start 2016 off with a win.
Next: 2. Week 16 at New England
Oct 25, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with defensive end Chandler Jones (95) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) after throwing a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots won 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
2. Week 16 at New England
It’s never an easy match-up for the Jets when they have to battle their division rival New England Patriots. The Jets haven’t been able to top off a victory at New England since their shocking 2011 playoff upset.
The Jets have achieved mild success against New England in recent years with a few victories at home during the regular season, but they haven’t beaten New England in Foxborough during the regular season since 2008.
The Patriots are still at the top of the AFC East, securing the division practically every season as long as quarterback Tom Brady is fully healthy. Every defense struggles to successfully shut down Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman.
The AFC East could very much come down to the final weeks of the 2016 regular season as the Jets Week 16 match-up with the Patriots falls between match-ups with the Miami Dolphins and Bills. Depending on how the Jets first half of the season plays out, their Week 16 showdown could very much, just like last season, become a do or die situation.
Next: 1. Week 6 at Arizona
1. Week 6 at Arizona
While the Jets have a plethora of difficult match-ups in 2016 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens and more, the Arizona Cardinals tops the list off as the No.1 toughest game for the Jets in 2016.
Their Week 6 game with the Cardinals is one of their first west coast trips that follows a road game with the Steelers, and their fourth road game in six weeks. Arizona was one of that NFL’s best teams in 2015, finishing with an impressive 13-3 record. Anchored by veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and a resurrected quarterback Carson Palmer, the Cardinals will look to feast on the Jets during Week 6.
Arizona finished last season with a 6-2 record at home, and will look for a repeat of a division title in 2016. Palmer loved launching deep passes down the field to Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown last year. The Jets’ defensive secondary had trouble covering the deep passes down the field in 2015. In order for the Jets to pull the upset and secure a Week 6 victory over Arizona, their secondary must stick to their receivers like glue.
The famous motto goes ‘defense wins championships’ as the Jets’ defense is not one to bat your eye at, however, it takes a well-rounded team to win the ultimate prize. Their quarterback situation is not a desirable one, they lack a starting caliber quarterback on their current roster. Unless quarterback Geno Smith shows more than flashes of the Pro Bowl quarterback he once envisioned himself as, the Jets will have their hands full in 2016. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick still seems as their best option at quarterback, but if a deal can’t be reached, Smith will get a second chance to try to prove he’s their franchise guy.