A realistic way-too-early look at NY Jets' playoff chances in 2024

How can the Jets make the playoffs in 2024?
Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Expectations in Florham Park are as high as they've ever been before. Robert Saleh's NY Jets are in Super Bowl or bust mode, something the fan base has only experienced a handful of times. Despite the high hopes, the Jets have a tough division to compete with before they even get to the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl.

It is a bit premature to be projecting out the playoffs when we haven't even gotten to the Hall of Fame game yet, but it is hard not to take a look at the schedule and see where the Jets could stand at the end of the season, regardless if it is too early or not.

The first thing to look at when dissecting a team's potential win/loss total is their strength of schedule. The Jets, according to Warren Sharp at Sharp Football Analysis, have the fourth easiest strength of schedule.

This is welcome news to a franchise that is facing the unfortunate reality of six primetime games, including two Thursday night games, as well as a 9:30 am ET London game. The least the league could do was give them a relatively light schedule.

So despite the irregularities in times and location, the Jets appear to have gotten a bit lucky with their schedule. Looking at the two teams in their division they will almost certainly be contending with, the Miami Dolphins have the eighth easiest schedule while the Buffalo Bills have the 23rd.

With so many primetime games for the Jets, that closes the gap between fourth and eighth, so I'd say the Jets and Dolphins are about even. The Bills are the ones who have the toughest road to travel. Overall, that checks off one box in favor of the Jets.

In terms of how the Jets roster fairs when compared to Miami and Buffalo, I'd say that is also a pretty favorable category for New York. Between the offense and defense, they are in a good spot.

With the loss of Gabe Davis and Stefon Diggs, the Bills offense doesn't have the firepower to compete with what the Jets have. Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall are primed for the best seasons of their career, with their first chance at playing with Aaron Rodgers.

The Dolphins indeed have their fair share of weapons as well in Tyreek Hill, Raheem Mostert, and Jaylen Waddle, but the difference in QB play between Tua Tagovailoa and Rodgers breaks that tie.

Defensively, the Jets certainly have the edge over the Dolphins, but the Bills make it tough. They lose Tyrel Dodson on the outside, but the addition of Nicholas Morrow should strengthen their linebacking corps overall.

Their secondary has a new look with Taylor Rapp sliding into the starting spot to replace the departing Jordan Poyer at strong safety while Mike Edwards will replace Micah Hyde at free safety. A lot remains to be seen for them, but finishing fourth last year, it is tough to say enough has changed for them to slide down much.

The Jets bring a lot of firepower of their own defensively. They are strong at every unit, with a secondary anchored by Sauce Gardner, a linebacking corps anchored by C.J. Mosley, and a defensive line anchored by Quinnen Williams.

But after finishing just 12th in total defense last year, and given the uncertainty that surrounds the newly acquired Haason Reddick, it is hard to say the Jets have leap-frogged the Bills defensively just yet.

The Bills are the biggest threat to the NY Jets' playoff hopes

Overall, the Dolphins' defense and quarterback play don't quite stack up to the Jets or Bills. New York and Buffalo's rosters are comparable enough to where it is a safe bet to say they will be jockeying for position with each other all season. However, the Jets' significantly easier strength of schedule gives them a slight edge.

It will be important for the Jets to finish at least 3-3 in their division. If they finish 3-3 or 4-2, they should finish no worse than 10-7 overall. They just don't have enough difficult out-of-division games for me to see them finishing any worse.

The only games outside the AFC East that look like big loss possibilities are in San Francisco in Week 1 and against Houston on Thursday night in Week 9, plus the usual unexpected loss or two.

So as long as the Jets can get through their division at least at .500, they should be a lock to make the playoffs. I think that is enough to get them to 10 wins, and I do believe 10 wins is enough to get them into the playoffs.

Whether as a wild card or division winner, Jets fans should be confident that they'll be watching their team in January, hopefully ending a dreadful 13-year playoff drought.