The NY Jets are hoping to exceed expectations in 2022 following a near-universally praised offseason that saw the team add instant-impact difference-makers in both free agency and the draft.
Unfortunately, the NFL schedule-makers did them no favors this year. Not only do the Jets face one of the most difficult sets of teams in 2022, but the order in which they play them is working against the organization as well.
Warren Sharp of NBC Sports put together a ranking of all 32 teams' strength of schedule based on Vegas betting odds as opposed to 2021 records. Generally speaking, this is a much better way to predict a team's true strength of schedule going into the year.
The Jets have the sixth-hardest strength of schedule in the entire league, harder than teams like the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, and New England Patriots. In fact, they have the most difficult schedule, on paper, in their division.
This is, of course, despite the fact that they finished last in their division in 2021, which typically matches teams up with easier opponents the following year. That's not the case this season, however.
The NY Jets schedule in 2022 is pretty brutal
The Jets will face the three other last-place finishers in the AFC. Unfortunately, two of those teams, the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos, present very difficult matchups.
Again, we knew who the Jets would be playing this season for quite some time now. This isn't anything new. However, what is new is the order in which the Jets will play these teams.
Sharp also has a metric called "net rest differential" which is used to analyze how many weeks of rest a team has compared to their opponents. This includes playing teams coming off bye weeks, coming off short/long weeks, and anything and everything related to that.
The Jets also rank very poorly in this with the fifth-worst net rest differential (-8 days). When you combine both their strength of schedule and net rest differential, you could argue the Jets have maybe the most difficult schedule in the entire NFL.
That's not ideal.
How much do these metrics matter, though? Are these just stats for the sake of stats? Not exactly. There's a significant correlation, in fact, when comparing these metrics to teams that exceeded or fell short of their win projection over the last few years.
In 2021 alone, only three of the 10 teams with the hardest strength of schedule based on Vegas win projections exceeded expectations. At the same time, only three of the 10 with the easiest strength of schedule fell short of preseason projections.
There's a correlation here. Teams with easier schedules generally exceed their Vegas projections and vice versa. Teams with a higher net rest differential, on average, perform better than their projections as well.
This isn't a death sentence by any means, but if the Jets are going to finish above their 5.5-win projection set by Vegas oddsmakers, they're going to have to buck some recent trends. They have their work cut out for them this year.