Week 2: NY Jets vs. New England Patriots
Sunday, Sept. 19, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
The Jets' home opener sees a familiar nemesis in New England coming into MetLife Stadium. The Jets get Bill Belichick and his 7-9 Patriots squad from a year ago in their building.
Both teams have gone through a transformation in the offseason with roster overhauls. In the case of New England, they are also getting reinforcements back, with many key players returning who opted out a season ago.
The Jets-Patriots game could also feature two rookie quarterbacks squaring off in Zach Wilson and Mac Jones. The presumed starter for the Pats in Week 1 is Cam Newton, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that New England could turn the reins of their franchise over to Jones quickly in 2021.
The potential rookie-rookie battle between Wilson and Jones has plenty of interest. For the Jets and their new franchise quarterback, this will be a challenging prospect as they face a coach in Belichick who has historically given young quarterbacks fits.
The Jets' former franchise quarterback, Sam Darnold, is still seeing ghosts, and last year, the Patriots' defense stymied and frustrated Chargers rookie QB sensation, Justin Herbert.
Belichick's defense held the record-breaking rookie to one of his worst outputs of the entire season.
Week 3: NY Jets @ Denver Broncos
Sunday, Sept. 26, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
Every year, there are new teams that leap into the playoff picture. The Denver Broncos could be one of those teams — they have made so many improvements in the offseason that they appear to be a team on the rise.
The question, however, is who the Broncos quarterback will be when the season arrives? Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater, Aaron Rodgers, or Deshaun Watson?
Since Denver did not make a strong play in the draft or free agency to land a front-line starter at QB, the possibility that the Broncos will be in the market for Watson or Rodgers is a real one.
Once his off-field issues are resolved, Watson will end up playing somewhere other than Houston in 2021, and with fewer dance partners out there now, it's a good bet that Denver will be a desirable landing spot.
After all, teams like the 49ers, Jets, Jaguars, Bears, Patriots all took themselves out of the running for Watson during the draft.
Regardless of who the Jets face at quarterback, any trip to Mile High is a difficult one to make. The high-altitude is always a factor for road teams, and a return of fans will aid Denver greatly at home.
This will be a challenging test for the Jets early in the season. The Broncos boast one of the league's very best secondaries and a dynamic group of young receivers.