The NY Jets face an uphill battle in their 2020 schedule. With that being said, a few games will be must-win scenarios for Gang Green.
The NFL revealed its complete 2020 schedule on Thursday. The NY Jets have been given a tough hand for the upcoming season, as their schedule ranks as the second toughest based on teams’ winning percentages from 2019.
They are set to face a daunting NFC West, arguably the best division in the NFL based on talent. This comes at a brutal time for New York. The AFC East is more open than ever with Tom Brady out of the picture.
All four teams in the division face a tough slate in 2020, with the New England Patriots having the toughest — their strength of schedule ranks first in the NFL (.537).
The AFC East claimed four of the top five spots in the toughest-schedule ranking. Only the San Francisco 49ers, who stand at fourth, found their way into the mix.
The Buffalo Bills are the consensus top team in the division. They are loaded on talent and coming off of a 10-6 playoff season. However, the 2020 schedule may bring trouble for quarterback Josh Allen, as it will for each of the young quarterbacks in the AFC.
Given the Jets’ tough schedule, which includes both teams from the 2019 Super Bowl and eight teams with winning records in 2019, they cannot afford to lose games that they should not lose.
In 2019, losses against the winless Cincinnati Bengals and Dolphins killed any hope the Jets may have had at a run at a wildcard spot. That can’t happen this season.
Which games are most important? Here’s a breakdown of the three games that are must-win for Adam Gase’s NY Jets.
Next: Week 4
1. Week 4 — Home vs. Denver Broncos (TNF)
The Jets play their first primetime game at home against the Denver Broncos in Week 4. There’s no other way to put it — this game should be the easiest win of the season for New York.
The Broncos appear to be set on handing the reins of their football team to Drew Lock, who started five games in 2019 and won four.
He played well in his first season, however, Gregg Williams should be able to take full advantage of the young quarterback when he comes to Metlife Stadium come October.
This will be a short week for both teams, but the Jets gain the upper hand in this scenario. A short week is tough for any team, particularly a young quarterback.
Facing one of the best and most experienced defensive coordinators in the league doesn’t help Lock, either. Williams will likely put pressure on Lock throughout the night, which has proven successful against young quarterbacks in recent years.
The Broncos are not a bad team by any means, but the Jets should match up with them well. This isn’t a layup for the Jets, but given the brutal schedule, they’ll need this win.
A primetime win would be huge for Darnold, who had two tough outings in the national spotlight last season. If the Jets want to be competitive in 2020, Thursday Night Football is the perfect place to prove it.
A QB in his first season as a starter is a beautiful sight for Williams’ defense in what is one of the most winnable games of 2020.
Next: Week 9
Week 9 — Home vs. New England Patriots (MNF)
The Jets haven’t beat the New England Patriots since 2015 when they pulled off an upset in overtime led by Ryan Fitzpatrick. For the first time in years, a game against the Pats feels winnable.
This is the second of the two primetime games the Jets are set to play in the upcoming season, and luckily for them, another inexperienced quarterback may fall into their laps.
Jarrett Stidham, the Pats’ fourth-round pick in 2019, is arguably the favorite to start for New England barring any unexpected free agent signings.
This wouldn’t be the first primetime game for Stidham if he starts from the get-go. The Pats play the Seattle Seahawks on the road in a Sunday night game earlier in the season. If I had to guess, I’d predict that he won’t feel very settled into the spotlight after a game against a defense like Seattle’s.
Gregg Williams gets another shot at an inexperienced signal-caller under the national spotlight. The Pats are the most vulnerable they’ve been in over a decade, and the Jets should be hungrier than ever for a win.
Both teams have a tough slate in the two weeks prior to this matchup — the Jets play the Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Pats play the 49ers and Bills.
There’s no better way to light a fire in a Jets team than to beat the Patriots. Especially when it’s in the national spotlight. Right in the heart of the season, a primetime win against the evil empire would be enormous for Darnold and the entire team.
Next: Week 12
Week 12 — Home vs. Miami Dolphins
The Jets’ schedule contains a rare sight that the NFL hasn’t seen since 1991. They play the Dolphins in consecutive games, with a bye week in between.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) May 8, 2020
The Dolphins are home first in Week 10. Then, both teams get 14 days to prepare for their second battle, which will take place in Metlife Stadium.
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The Dolphins may not be the laughingstock they were in 2019, but the Jets should still be able to beat them. Of course, there was the collapse in Week 9 of 2019 when the Jets were beaten by the winless and helpless Dolphins.
The Jets are very capable of beating Miami twice. They are still the better team. If they can’t manage to beat them twice, they at least need to win the second matchup.
They’ll have two weeks to prepare after seeing them the first time and won’t have to prepare to play anyone else in between.
Division games will be even bigger than usual in 2020 given that the AFC East is wide open. The Jets should beat the Dolphins twice. The home game will be the easier one to win, especially with an extra week to prepare for a team they just saw.
Knowing Adam Gase and the Jets, winning both games may be difficult to pull off. At a bare minimum, the second time the Jets see Miami, they need to walk away with a win.