NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets 2020 season has become a win-lose scenario.
The NY Jets are winless after the first 10 games of their season. As each week passes, it’s looking like the Jets will have to stay that way if the ultimate goal is getting the first overall pick in next year’s draft.
It seems like an ancient memory for Jets’ fans, but there was actually a time when the end of November meant speculation on the team’s playoff scenarios. There was even a time period where the Jets’ playoff chances at the end of a season were plausible.
Things have gotten so bad for the Jets and their fanbase that they want to see the team run the table in reverse. We are living in the upside-down where the only scenario where the Jets can win is if they lose.
And if the Jets do win, it will feel like a loss. Losing the opportunity to draft a generational type talent in Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence will feel like a loss for many years to come.
With each loss that passes, Jets fans are celebrating each one as an individual victory. A sense of relief and joy came over Jets nation when Nick Folk connected on a game-winning field goal three weeks ago to beat the green and white.
It almost matched the elation when Folk beat the Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts to advance in the playoffs back when he was kicking for the Jets.
Losing is pretty rough on fans of any franchise, but it’s particularly hard on the players. Future Hall of Famer Frank Gore recently commented that he doesn’t want to go out of the NFL, having been on a team that goes 0-16.
Quite frankly, for the Jets’ long-term future, there’s no long term benefit to a New York victory led by Joe Flacco/Frank Gore in 2020.
Deep down, Jets fans don’t want the team to go an entire season without winning a game, but the 1-9 Jacksonville Jaguars are leaving them no other option.
In a perfect world, the Jaguars find a way to get their second win. It would then allow Jets fans to root for their team to win a game and avoid the ultimate embarrassment of completing a winless season.
Let’s take an in-depth look at where things currently stand between the Jaguars and Jets, with six games to go, in the worst for first pick standings, and why, specifically, a Jets victory could spell doom for them.
Next: Jets remaining schedule
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets remaining strength of schedule: .617 (2nd hardest in the NFL)
- Home vs. Miami Dolphins (6-4), home vs. Las Vegas Raiders (6-4), @ Seattle Seahawks (7-3), @ Los Angeles Rams (7-3), home vs. Cleveland Browns (7-3), and @ New England Patriots (4-6)
The oddsmakers have the NY Jets as favorites to land the first overall pick because of the difficulty of their remaining schedule. On the surface, the Jets face six potential playoff teams with two west coast trips on the ledger.
However, if you dig deeper, there are some possibilities for a Jets victory down the stretch.
Starting with this weekend’s tilt at home with the Miami Dolphins. The Fins are coming off of their worst performance of their season against the Denver Broncos last week. Miami’s presumed franchise quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was pulled in that game and replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Presumably, Tua returns to the helm this week in a get-right game against the Jets’ inexperienced secondary but the Dolphins offense has slowed down immeasurably in recent weeks.
Injuries at wide receiver and on their offensive line have contributed to Miami’s struggles. Miami has taken a conservative approach with Tua at quarterback and has leaned on their defense.
But even that unit has faltered some in recent outings — specifically, last week where the Broncos ran for nearly 200 against them.
If the Jets don’t upset the Dolphins, they may not have another chance of winning until the final week of the season against the New England Patriots.
Yes, the Browns and Raiders are susceptible to poor performances on the road, but New York is most likely to pull an upset at New England in Week 17. The future of the Jets franchise could be determined once again by Bill Belichick.
The other person who can greatly affect the Jets’ chances of securing the first overall pick is Sam Darnold. The ironic thing is that Darnold could ruin the Jets’ chances of drafting his replacement, Trevor Lawrence.
If healthy, Darnold will finally get a chance to work with the team’s intended top trio at the wide receiver position of Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder, and Denzel Mims.
Sam Darnold has plenty of motivation to finish the season strong, and if he does. It could hurt the Jets in the long run. It’s amazing how much things have turned. The ex-savior of the franchise could put an end to the franchise’s potential next savior.
Next: Jaguars remaining schedule
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ remaining strength of schedule: .600 (4th hardest in the NFL)
- Home vs. Cleveland Browns (7-3), @ Minnesota Vikings (4-6), home vs. Tennessee Titans (7-3), @ Baltimore Ravens (6-4), home vs. Chicago Bears (5-5), @ Indianapolis Colts (7-3)
Jacksonville surprisingly pushed the Green Bay Packers to the brink a couple of weeks ago before being demolished by the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers this past weekend. In Week 11, the Jaguars went back to being who we thought they were, to paraphrase a late Dennis Green quote.
On paper, the two most winnable games on the Jaguars’ remaining schedule are at the 4-6 Vikings and home for the Bears in Week 16.
Much like the Jets, the Jaguars have a game at home this coming weekend that isn’t as difficult as it appears to be on paper. While the Browns are clear playoff contenders at 7-3, they have been winning ugly, similar to the way the Bears were earlier this season.
Cleveland might not have to play pretty to beat the one-win Jags though. Their stellar run game can continue to carry the Browns team over a struggling Jacksonville defense.
To compound matters for the Jaguars, their defensive coordinator Todd Wash, will be missing the game due to him testing positive for COVID-19.
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The question is, who will be leading the Jaguars at quarterback in these upcoming games. The team’s rookie quarterback, Jake Luton, started with a spark a few weeks ago and even made some plays in Green Bay, but the bottom fell out for him against Pittsburgh.
It’s looking likely that the Jaguars may eventually turn back to Gardner Minshew at QB. But Luton has been benched, and Mike Glennon is making a start this coming weekend.
The same way that a healthy Sam Darnold poses a threat to the Jets losing out. Gardner Minshew is playing the same type of spoiler role for Jacksonville. Minshew is fully capable of getting hot and making plays to win games.
It’s hard to believe now, but Minshew proved that in Week 1, rallying the Jaguars to a victory over the now 7-3 Indianapolis Colts.
Minshew caught fire in Week 1 and beat a team with one of the league’s very best defenses. Does he have some more Minshew magic left in him? Jets fans certainly hope so.
Now that we have taken a look at the two teams remaining schedules, let’s see what could ultimately determine who gets the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Next: Comparing total opponent wins/strength of schedule
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Comparing the NY Jets’ and Jaguars’ strength of schedule
- NY Jets strength of schedule: .588
- Current total opponent wins: 84
- Jacksonville Jaguars strength of schedule: .553
- Current total opponent wins: 78.5
For the NY Jets, here’s where things get a little tricky and complicated. The question as to who gets Trevor Lawrence may lie in the numbers posted above.
What happens if the Jets and Jaguars finish with the same record?
The first tiebreaker is the strength of schedule; the team with the easier schedule wins the tiebreaker and gets the higher selection. Sounds simple enough, right?
The bottom line is that the SOS favors Jacksonville, and it leaves New York with virtually no margin for error. And in this case, the margin for error means the Jets winning a game.
For Jets’ fans looking for a way for their team to back into the first overall pick, even if they win a game and finish with the same record as Jacksonville. It’s not impossible but not very probable.
A key figure is total opponent wins. Here’s how it works:
The Jets and Jaguars have four common opponents in the Browns, Chargers, Colts, and the Dolphins. Because the Browns and Chargers are common opponents and an equal amount of games for the Jets/Jags (2), for the sake of this, they are eliminated from this SOS tiebreaker equation.
However, the Colts and Dolphins are still a part of tiebreaker and SOS scenarios for Jacksonville and New York because the other team plays that opponent twice. The divisional opponents’ win total gets counted twice.
So what it all essentially comes down to is the win totals of the opponents that the Jets and Jaguars have faced on their schedule.
As it currently stands after 10 games, here are the win totals for Jacksonville’s opponents. The Jags schedule includes the entire AFC North and NFC North.
- Steelers (10), Ravens (6), Bengals (2), Colts (7), Colts (7), Titans (7), Titans (7), Texans (3), Texans (3), Dolphins (6), Packers (7), Bears (5), Lions (4), Vikings (4) = 78.5 Total Opponent Wins.
Here are the win totals for New York’s opponents. The Jets schedule includes the entire AFC West and NFC West.
- Chiefs (9), Raiders (6), Broncos (4), Bills (7), Bills (7), Dolphins (6), Dolphins (6), Patriots (4), Patriots (4), Seahawks (7), Rams (7), Cardinals (6), 49ers (4), Colts (7) = 84 Total Opponent Wins
As you can see, when it comes to win totals, the Jets need the Jaguars’ opponents to make up a lot of ground if they want to win a head-to-head tiebreaker. Jacksonville’s opponents have five-and-a-half fewer wins than New York’s do.
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What it all essentially boils down to is rooting for the teams on your schedule to lose as many games as possible, except for when they play you, of course.
For example, the Jets gained ground on Jacksonville, when the Texans beat the Patriots in Week 11. Houston, a Jaguars opponent, added to their win total. While the Pats, a Jets opponent didn’t.
However, the Rams win this past Monday night against Tampa Bay hurt the Jets in SOS and TOW. In Week 12 and beyond, many of these types of games hold importance in the overall tiebreaker.
For instance, the Saints beating the Broncos or the Bucs beating the Chiefs would help the Jets. While the Panthers beating the Vikings would help Jacksonville. A big game down the road would be in Week 14 when the Bills play the Steelers. A Pittsburgh wins aids the Jets.
No Jets fan wants to spend the next six weeks looking into these scenarios, but if Gang Green wins a game along the way. They may have to.
I can almost hear the voice of legendary Jets fan Joe Benigno as I type this. Only the Jets could go 1-15 and still not get the first overall pick. “Oh, the pain.”