The NY Jets will have a much more difficult schedule in 2020 than they did last season. But which of their 16 games will prove to be the most difficult?
The NY Jets were the beneficiaries of one of the easiest schedules in the NFL in 2019. And as a result, they managed to finish with a 7-9 record despite a roster/coaching staff that likely shouldn’t have won that many games.
But in 2020, their luck has seemingly caught up with them.
The Jets were handed one of the most difficult schedules in 2020 with only the New England Patriots having a harder slate of games in terms of 2019 winning percentage.
And given the team’s scheduled opponents it’s easy to see why it appears so daunting.
After not leaving the Eastern Time Zone a single time last season, the Jets will be taking multiple trips out west including road matchups against both Los Angeles franchises.
The Jets made some significant improvements in the offseason and there is a renewed sense of optimism surrounding the franchise. However, the challenging schedule ahead could force fans to temper said optimism.
With that, let’s take a look at the three hardest games on the Jets’ 2020 schedule.
Next: 3. Week 2 vs. San Francisco 49ers
3. Week 2 vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Jets will have the misfortune of playing their home opener against the defending NFC champions, the San Francisco 49ers. If there ever was a definition of an early-season test, this would be it.
The 49ers are fresh off a stunning 13-3 season in which the team shocked most of the football world improving their win total by a whopping nine games from the season prior. And they did so on the back of their potent rushing attack and dominant defense.
Gregg Williams and the Jets did an excellent job defending the run last season allowing the second-fewest rushing yards per game. And they did so with a revolving door at inside linebacker and a collection of unproven unknowns on the defensive line.
C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson will, in all likelihood, return in 2020 which should provide a huge boost to what was already a fantastic run defense. However, the 49ers are a challenge like no other.
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Kyle Shanahan’s offense specializes in pre-snap motion and outside-zone running allowing his players to make plays in open space. That puts extra emphasis on open-field tackling and gap responsibility stressing the defense.
But perhaps the more daunting task comes on the other side of the ball.
The new-look Jets offensive line will be put to the ultimate test against arguably the best front-seven in the NFL. Could the likes of Mekhi Becton and Connor McGovern prove their worth early in their Jets careers against players like Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead?
Week 2 will provide us with answers — although Jets fans may not like the results.
Next: 2. Week 14 @ Seattle Seahawks
2. Week 14 @ Seattle Seahawks
The middle section of the Jets’ schedule isn’t the worst, but their late-season stretch is a scary sight. The Jets will head out west to take on the Seattle Seahawks in one of the most intimidating road matchups a team could have.
Seattle has boasted an impressive roster for years with Russell Wilson obviously at the head of things. The six-time Pro Bowler will be one of the best quarterbacks the Jets face all season and doing so at his home in CenturyLink Field makes it all the more challenging.
The unheralded wide receiver duo of Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf could strain a questionable cornerback group and a deep tight end depth chart featuring the likes of Will Dissly and a returning Greg Olsen will test the team’s linebackers/safeties.
But in reality, this will be a test of just how much the Jets could limit Wilson. If they could slow him down, they’ll have a shot. If not, it’ll likely be a long afternoon for Gang Green.
And while the Seahawks defense isn’t what it once was, they’ll still certainly have the advantage over a lackluster Jets offense. Players like Bobby Wagner and Shaquill Griffin lead a strong defensive unit that will be difficult to score against.
Playing in Seattle is challenging for any team. But the skill gap here is also a major obstacle to overcome.
This one won’t be easy.
Next: 1. Week 8 @ Kansas City Chiefs
1. Week 8 @ Kansas City Chiefs
You’d be hard-pressed to find a game that will be projected to be more lopsided than this one. The lowly Jets will travel to Kansas City to take on the defending Super Bowl champions in Arrowhead Stadium at the halfway point of the season.
Things could get ugly.
And if the Jets’ offense is anywhere close to as inept as it was last year, they certainly won’t be providing their defense with any help.
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That said, the idea of seeing a Jamal Adams/Travis Kelce showdown is absolutely intriguing. But who covers Hill? What about Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman? The Jets simply don’t have the speed in their secondary to match up with the Chiefs’ blazing receivers.
And even if they did, this is Patrick Mahomes we’re talking about. The 2018 MVP is arguably the hardest player in the league to gameplan against. Williams will try to work his magic, but just like the efforts of so many other brilliant defensive minds, they might be in vain.
The only questions are whether their linebacker core will hold up or not and if they could recover from the loss of Kendall Fuller in the offseason.
Nonetheless, you really can’t find a more difficult matchup than the defending champs and Super Bowl favorites on the road.
And for that reason, this game is undoubtedly the most challenging on the Jets’ schedule.