Let me preface by saying that I understand the game is not played on paper and much can and will change between now and Week 1. That said, after pouring over the New York Jets regular season schedule, I had a difficult time conjuring up ways they could make a legitimate postseason run.
Let’s be frank though, the schedule makers over on Park Avenue didn’t do the Jets any favors by pitting them a young/upstart Bucs team in Week 1 and then sending them north to New England four days later. If there is a better recipe for this team to start 0-2, I can’t really think of it. Someone in the league office must have thought that the TV story lines were more important than legitimate competitive balance. I am not/do not care to suggest some sort of conspiracy theory. I would just merely like to point out that this is a rather difficult way for a 6-10 team with a top-ten draft pick to start off a season.
For those fans hoping for a 2006-esque season where a team full of question marks and young core players surprised the league by going 10-6 and making the playoffs, don’t hold your breath. The fact of the matter is that this schedule is simply too tough, it would take some spirited performances and bona fide upsets for this team to put themselves into the playoff conversation.
Let me for play Devil’s Advocate against myself and outline the scenario in which the 2013 Jets are able to keep their collective heads above water to make this season interesting –
As was mentioned, the first two weeks of the season are pretty brutal but if the Jets are somehow able to split or even win both of those games, then all bets are off and I am happily eating my words. The likely outcome is a win at home against “Treasure Island” and the Bucs as the Jets D proves too much for a still-inconsistent Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay offense. In terms of the debut of Thursday Night Football, I don’t see a way the Jets can realistically go into New England on a short week and knock off Brady and the Pats. However, a 1-1 start going into games against Kevin Kolb/EJ Manuel and Jake Locker is not the worst place to be and it is not out of the realm of possibility that this team surprises with a 3-1 start.
Gang Green will probably need to be 2-2 or 3-1 as they head into one of the most daunting five-game stretches any team in the NFL will have this season: Falcons, Steelers, Pats, Bengals, and Saints in consecutive weeks. That stretch has potential disaster written all over it and could be the reason the team is playing for a draft pick instead of a playoff spot down the stretch.