3. The NY Jets strength of schedule/expected win-totals of 2021 opponents
The Jets' opponents in 2021 have an overall .489 win percentage (132-138-2) from a year ago, ranking the Jets schedule tied for 19th most difficult in the NFL.
Most pundits dismiss the strength of schedule formula based on the records of teams from a season ago. And the argument for doing so is valid — after all, NFL teams and the playoff field changes so much from year to year.
It's why many sports betting sites have opted for a different SOS formula, using the projected win totals of a team's opponents.
Using this calculation, the combined win totals of the opponents on the Jets 2021 schedule is 144.1. The calculation has the Jets with the 21st most difficult schedule in the NFL.
Any way you slice it, whether it's the traditional or the updated oddsmaker format, the Jets schedule in 2021 is not that difficult. 11 of Gang Green's 17 games in 2021 are against teams that did not make the playoffs a year ago.
Non-playoff teams like Cincinnati will be on the road for a third straight week when they play the Jets on Halloween.
Philadelphia will be finishing a late-season stretch of playing five road games in seven weeks when they play New York before finally getting a bye in Week 14. The Jets may finally beat the Eagles in the regular season with the schedule weighted in their favor.
If not now, they may never.
One of the Jets' late-season road games against a non-playoff team is away at the Houston Texans. It's anyone's guess who will be the Texans' quarterback by the time November rolls around but many project Houston to be one of the league's worst teams.
Overall, the Jets have nine home games and only seven road games, with a neutral site game taking place against Atlanta in London. All of these factors tilt the scale in the Jets' favor.
Let's look at the tougher opponents on New York's 2021 schedule. The six games on the Jets regular-season slate which feature teams who did make the playoffs in 2020 are Buffalo (twice), Tampa, Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Tennessee.
But if you look beyond the surface, except for a short trip to play Indianapolis, inexplicably on Thursday Night Football in Week 9, the "tough" games on the schedule are not as imposing as one would assume, and the positioning of the games could end up benefitting the Jets.
For starters, the Jets are playing the Tennessee Titans in Week 4 at home. The Titans are a formidable challenge for any team, but home games will matter a heck of a lot more in 2021 than they did a year ago with actual fans in attendance.
The Jets will be the rightful underdog in this game but playing at MetLife gives them a puncher's chance of pulling the upset.
In Week 14, the New Orleans Saints, another playoff team from a year ago, travel to MetLife to play the Jets in the middle of December. It's a challenging road trip for a dome team to encounter having to play outdoors in the elements.
Despite Drew Brees retiring this offseason, Sean Payton is deserving of respect as one of the league's best offensive minds regardless of who the Saints have at QB this season.
But the last time Payton took his team to Metlife in 2013, New Orleans led by Drew Brees lost to Geno Smith and New York 26-20.
In a unique scheduling quirk, the Jets don't play the AFC East champion Buffalo Bills until week 10. A daunting task for sure, but New York plays Buffalo at home on 10 days rest, coming off a mini bye week after playing Indianapolis.