By Reid McEvoy
The New York Jets’ 2017 schedule was released Thursday night and that means it's time to take a closer look at the opponents in what could be a pivotal season for the Green and White.
Week 1, Week 9, Buffalo Bills: In the season opener, the Jets travel to Buffalo for a matchup with the Bills, and then in Week 9, the Jets will have the Bills at home for a Thursday night game. Last year the Jets swept the two games from the Bills. The Jets won last year's Thursday night matchup, 37-31, as Matt Forte scored three touchdowns. In the season finale, the Jets routed Buffalo, 30-10. The Jets have a great opportunity to start the season off with a victory against a Rex Ryan-less Bills team.
Week 2, at Oakland: The Jets will be hosted by the Raiders, but it won't be in Las Vegas just yet, as the team plans to move there in 2019. The last time the Jets and Raiders met was in 2015 in Oakland in Week 8. The Raiders powered through the Jets, 34-20, pushed by four touchdowns from Derek Carr. This year, the Jets will be hoping they’ll be the ones powering through the Raiders with newly acquired QB Josh McCown possibly at the helm. Either way, this will be a tough game.
Week 3, Week 7, Miami Dolphins: In Week 3 the Jets play their home opener against the Dolphins, and then will visit Miami in Week 7. Last year, the Dolphins swept the Jets for the first time since 2009. In the first game, the Jets lost 27-23 in Miami in a game that will be remembered for special teams play. What appeared to be a Jets victory was turned around after Kenyan Drake returned a kick for a touchdown to make the difference. In the second game in Week 15, the Jets lost a brutal game, 34-13, with backup quarterbacks Bryce Petty and Matt Moore playing. Late in the game, Petty got hurt, allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick to come off the bench, and in the dying moments of the game, he fittingly threw an interception, capping off the loss, and sweep by the Dolphins. The Jets will be hoping for a split this season, at the least.
Week 4, vs Jacksonville: The Jets host the Jaguars, as they did in Week 9 of the 2015 season, where they came out on top, 28-23, in a game riddled with fumbles, as there were four in the game, three from the Jags, including two from Blake Bortles. The Jets will be hoping that same mistake-prone Bortles will show up and they can capitalize and come out with a "W."
Week 5, at Cleveland: Last season in Week 8 the Jets paid the Browns a visit, and in a game that ended up being closer than it should’ve been, the Jets won 31-28 against the team that ended up 1-15. Josh McCown could be playing his former team in this return trip to Cleveland, hoping to pick up a win in his former home. But the Browns are a team that could look entirely different from last year, as they have 11 picks in the upcoming draft, four coming in the first two rounds, including first overall. So they will definitely have a chance to rebuild. The Jets hope a changeover with happen after this game, as this is another early winnable game.
Week 6, Week 17, New England Patriots: In Week 6, the Jets will be visited by the Super Bowl champions, and they will see them again in Foxboro in Week 17. In 2016 the Patriots swept the Jets, winning a close game in Week 12, 22-17, before blowing the them out in Week 16, 41-3, the latter of which saw Tom Brady throw three touchdowns and Malcolm Butler force three turnovers. The last time the Jets beat the Patriots was in an overtime thriller in 2015 on a touchdown catch by Eric Decker. The Patriots caused confusion when Matthew Slater chose to kick after winning the coin toss, an odd decision for overtime. Following the game, Slater said he just did what coach Bill Belichick told him, and Belichick agreed Slater did what he was supposed to. An odd angle to what was then a huge victory by the Jets. It will be interesting to see what kind of position the Jets will be in record-wise for the season finale in Foxboro.
Week 8, vs. Atlanta: The Jets host the NFC Champion Falcons, who ended up blowing a 28-3 lead to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Getting a win against the Falcons will be no easy task, even at home, as since the Super Bowl, the Falcons have only gotten better, with the signing of Dontari Poe. They've also definitely put an emphasis on the fullback spot, having brought in Soma Vainuku and Derrick Coleman to fill the void left by Patrick DiMarco.
Week 10, at Tampa Bay: The Jets visit the Buccaneers. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins will be playing his former team, hoping to get a victory for the Jets in Tampa. The Jets will have to face newly acquired wide out DeSean Jackson, in addition to Mike Evans, along with Gerald McCoy and the rest of the Buccaneers. This is another tough road matchup for the Jets.
Week 11, Bye Week: The New York Jets take the week off. Oddly enough, the Jets had their bye week in Week 11 last year as well.
Week 12, vs. Carolina: The Panthers will head to East Rutherford for a game against The Men in Green. The Panthers are coming off one of the hardest drops in football, as in 2015 they went 15-1, only losing to the Falcons in the regular season and then the Broncos in the Super Bowl. MVP Cam Newton lost to now-retired QB Peyton Manning. Last year, the team went 6-10, missing the playoffs all together. Comparing Newton's 2016 stats to his 2015 stats: he had almost half as many passing touchdowns, four more interceptions, 300 fewer passing yards, 300 fewer rushing yards (and a career low), and half as many rushing scores. So the Jets may be handling an MVP at the opposing helm, or a lackluster QB who is past his prime, but we’ll have to wait to see.
Week 13, vs. Kansas City: The Jets are going to have the Chiefs as house guests. The last time these two teams met was in Kansas City and it was a terrible game for the Jets, as they lost 24-3. It wasn’t just bad because of the scoreline, however, as Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions, SIX!! He literally threw the game away, putting the ball in the hands of Derrick Johnson, Eric Berry, Daniel Sorenson, D.J. White and Marcus Peters twice. The Jets are definitely hoping whoever is under center for them will be able to avoid the defense better than Fitzpatrick did in their last meeting.
Week 14, at Denver: The Jets will be a mile high at Denver, a team that will definitely be led by a young quarterback, whether it be Trevor Simien or Paxton Lynch. The Jets will be hoping to be able to steal a late-season win in Denver.
Week 15, at New Orleans: The Jets will be knocking on the New Orleans Saints door, to complete their tour of the NFC South. The Jets will be hoping they can beat the Drew Brees-led Saints, who will now have to see how they will fair without speedy receiver Brandin Cooks, who was traded to the New England Patriots for the 32nd overall pick, 103rd overall pick, and 118th overall pick.
Week 16, vs. Los Angeles Chargers: The Jets are going to be visited by the Los Angeles Chargers to complete their tour of the AFC West. The former San Diego Chargers are joining the bandwagon and moving to LA. They’re coming off a 5-11 season, and are hoping to rebound in 2017, and in Los Angeles. But the Jets are hoping they’ll be able to crash the moving party and pick up a "W" for New York.