The NY Jets' 2021 17-game regular-season schedule was released on Wednesday, and it features some significant matchups along the way.
The Jets will have nine home games in total (only one game in primetime), and one of their road games will take place in London. The most significant aspect of 2021 is the eventual return of fans — a missing and key element to last season.
In terms of strength of schedule, based on last year's final standings, the Jets' schedule is ranked 19th overall (.489). They will be facing five teams who made the playoffs last season (Bills (2), Buccaneers, Titans, Saints, and Colts).
Eight of the Jets' games are against teams that finished .500 or better in 2020. However, as most longtime NFL fans know, records from a previous season are virtually meaningless in a league where different teams fall out of contention or become contenders every year.
Here is the full slate and analysis of the NY Jets schedule for the 2021 regular season.
Week 1: NY Jets @ Carolina Panthers
Sunday, Sept. 12, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
The adage "give me the bad news first" comes into play for Gang Green in the opening week.
Not only are the Jets opening their new season on the road, but they will immediately face off against their former franchise quarterback Sam Darnold in what will be one of the most intriguing matchups in Week 1 of the NFL.
The Robert Saleh/Zach Wilson era kicks off on the road against a Carolina team with some familiar faces who represent the recent past of the Jets.
Most prominently, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, who grew up a Jets fan and came very close to landing his dream job with the green and white, former standout Jets receiver Robby Anderson and, of course, Sam Darnold.
Let the overhype leading into this game begin, and there will certainly be overreactions that follow. The result of this game will deliver an "I told you so" narrative, no matter which team wins.
It's hard to imagine a scenario where the Jets do not see the very best of Darnold. He will be highly motivated and prepared to prove his point, and the naysayers of the Jets will be rooting him on to show up his former franchise.