New York Jets: 3 Must Win Games Before the Bye Week

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Our Joe Malfa takes a look at three must wins for the New York Jets before the bye week…

1) vs. Oakland (September 7th)

The easiest opponent for the Jets through the first few weeks of the season is Oakland on opening day. They need take care of business against the Raiders otherwise things may take a turn for the worse with a brutal schedule to start the year, in fact, this may be the only game Gang Green is favored in during September.

There’s no reason the Jets should lose this game, as they match up very well with the Raiders, most prominently with noodle-armed Matt Schaub having to go against Rex Ryan’s blitz scheme and the Jets defensive front.

2) vs. Detroit (September 28th)

Before the Jets take on the Lions, they play Green Bay and Chicago — two challenging games particularly with the question marks around the cornerback position. After the game against the Lions, they play San Diego, Denver, and New England — three playoff teams from 2013. If they don’t beat the Lions, a game I feel they are more than capable of winning, they could be putting themselves in an early season hole.

The keys to this game will be time of possession and getting pressure on Matthew Stafford. If the Jets can control the ball and pace of the game, they will come out with a win. If this game turns into a shootout, Rex ought to think about burying the game balls again.

3) vs. Pittsburgh (November 9th)

This game is important for two reasons. First, it would be nice to head into the bye week coming off a win. The second, more important reason is this game may have  wild card implications. If the Jets would’ve beaten the Steelers last season, they would’ve made the playoffs at 9-7 as the 6th seed ahead of the Chargers. The division may be out of reach again this year, but earning a playoff berth via a wild card spot is more than feasible for Gang Green.

The Jets and Steelers are two similar teams. They both have run-first offenses, strong run defenses, average passing attacks (yes, the Jets are finally an average passing team) and less than stellar passing defenses. I don’t expect more than one score to decide this game.

…And now one our most interactive followers Hans, gives his admittedly optimistic guide to the 2014 Jets season. What are your predictions? Leave them in the comment section, we are going to try to post a few more fan predictions like this in the coming weeks.

AN OPTIMIST’S GUIDE TO THE 2014 NYJ SEASON

WEEK 1: Oakland AT NY Jets

The Black Hole visits the Met to open up the season.  The Raiders ended up offering Austin Howard more money to sign with them, and we took Jacoby Ford in return (and then he didn’t survive the first round of cuts). That wasn’t the only move they made as they went on a shopping spree to improve that rickety defense.  Meanwhile, the Jets went to improve the offense, getting a downfield threat in Eric Decker, signing the ever elusive Chris Johnson and filling the void left by Howard by signing SB Champion RT Breno Giacomini.  Oakland may have gotten better, but so did the Jets.  Given that this game isn’t on the West Coast, home field should play a significant factor in giving the Jets their first win.

PREDICTION: OAK 24 – NYJ 31

WEEK 2: NY Jets AT Green Bay

The Jets visit Lambeau field for the first time since 2006.  This one is going to come down to the state of Green Bay’s defense.  Is it still the same bendy, injury-riddled unit from last year?  Can the Jets, with their newly acquired weapons, impose their will while trying to limit superstar QB Aaron Rodgers to a pedestrian game?  It’ll be difficult in the land of cheese.  This will be Geno’s first true test as to whether or not he has truly turned the corner.  And while I think he will handle himself well, I believe the Jets get edged out under the watchful eye of old Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi.

PREDICTION: NYJ 21 – GB 24

WEEK 3: Chicago AT NY Jets

The Jay Cutler- Brandon Marshall show comes live to the Meadowlands on Monday Night and I expect the game to be explosive.  No one can ever count out the aforementioned Marshall, nor his teammates such as rising star Alshon Jeffrey or perennial power back Matt Forte.  After a rough week in Lambeau, it will be up to the Jets defense to bounce back, but can they rise to the occasion?  This may be the powerful NFC North, but these ain’t your daddy’s Same Old Jets!  I do believe that if this game were later in the year, it would be a loss.  But the early encounter (as well as the extra day of rest and preparation) makes this a win in my book, albeit close like in Green Bay.

PREDICTION: CHI 28 – NYJ 31

WEEK 4: Detroit AT NY Jets

The lone surviving starting quarterback to be drafted in 2009 makes his first appearance at Metlife stadium in the regular season.  With Nick Fairley and the ever dangerous Ndamukong Suh entering contract years, nothing is ever for certain as they will be a real test of the O-Line’s ability to contain (though if the scrimmage was any indicator, they may end up doing just fine).  Is the motor city’s secondary improved from previous years?  Can the Jets get the ground game going against a vicious front 7?  This game will be bowling shoe ugly, but Rex has experience with bowling shoe ugly.  Home field seals advantage green and white.

PREDICTION: DET 14 – NYJ 17

WEEK 5: NY Jets AT San Diego

A rejuvenated Phillip Rivers plays host to the Green and White in this week.  Can the defense contain rising star Keenen Allen and wiley veteran Antonio Gates.  Can the duo of Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead be held in check (spoiler alert: YES!!)?  Can the Jets maintain an already hot streak and end a tradition of horrible play on the West Coast?  My simple answer to that is gonna be…meh.  The Jets will play well, but imo, not well enough to get past the Bolts.

PREDICTION: NYJ 28 – SD 31

WEEK 6: Denver AT NY Jets

The Jets continue a stretch of tough opponents with a visit from Peyton Manning’s Broncos.  THIS is my spoiler pick ladies and gentlemen!  Peyton has faced Rex’s D in the past at indy, but the talent is nothing compared to what he’ll be facing now.  Can this young unit be disciplined enough to not get baited into giving the play away?  Can Demaryius Thomas be contained by an average secondary?  Can Eric Decker prove to all the naysayers and non-believers that he can succeed without Peyton Manning (even though he succeeded with Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow but who let’s a silly thing like facts get in the way of a good narrative amirite?)?  The answer to those is simple: embed video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJbmB9k2Y88

Now will they or not is obviously another story.  But I believe we can get it done!  And Rex will make sure his guys believe it too!

PREDICTION: DEN 24 – NYJ 28

WEEK 7: NY Jets AT New England

I’m not gonna beat around the bush here; this one is gonna be rough.  VERY rough.  Going into Foxboro four days after facing off against one of the greatest QB minds of all time is not my idea of a fun time.  Its out of the frying pan and into the fire when you face ANOTHER brilliant QB mind in Tom Brady as well as former Jet Darrelle Revis.  Will he be in the form of the Revis of old? If training camp is any indicator, the likely answer is yes, and Jets fans aren’t going to like it one bit.  Even the most stringent of optimists can’t etch a W into this one.

PREDICTION: NYJ 17 – NE 31

WEEK 8: Buffalo AT NY Jets

After coming home and eating some humble pie after a thrashing at Gilette, the Jets come home and play host to the Buffalo Bills.  The Bills, after losing DROY Candidate Kiko Alonso to a season ending injury, are learning the 3rd new defensive system in as many years.  Not all is grim for the Bills Mafia faithful.  Sammy Watkins is looking to be everything he’s supposed to be and CJ Spiller is anxious to have a breakout season after a letdown in 2013.  But this is Metlife we’re talking about.  A loud crowd backing the best front 7 in the AFC East will be instrumental in keeping the Bills VERY one-dimensional.  And getting rid of that solid running game will be key to victory on a Sunday afternoon.

PREDICTION: BUF 17 – NYJ 28

WEEK 9: NY Jets AT Kansas City

The Jets emerge into the second half of the football season against the 2nd Place Kansas City Chiefs, headed up by Andy Reid and his general, QB Alex Smith, on offense, and Former Jets coach DC Bob Sutton on defense.  The Chiefs are going to be out to prove something, but so are the Jets.  The Chiefs came close to knocking off the Broncos last year and that was incredible.  But the Jets have been constantly been disrespected since those events which we will not name have happened.  I’m giving the Jets a huge chip on their shoulder and giving them a W to start things right.  But don’t go cheering yet, its gonna be a rough ride coming up.

PREDICTION: NYJ 24 – KC 21

WEEK 10: Pittsburgh AT NY Jets

The Steelers come into Metlife in week 10.  Traditionally, the Jets, and Rex Ryan in particular, has always had a rough time of facing “coaches that he respects”.  Its an act that I really grow tired of.  He shows too much respect and that’s where he gets done in.  There is nothing wrong with being brash like you are against any other opponent.  Sadly, that probably will not happen.  Despite a still aging defense, the Steelers still have Big Ben and Antonio Brown.  And they will get open just enough to edge the Jets out, giving them something to think about over the bye week.

PREDICTION: PIT 24 – NYJ 21

WEEK 11: Bye

PREDICTION: Bye wins. LOL!

Week 12: NY Jets AT Buffalo

This is where things get interesting because now the shoe is on the other foot from last month. Now the Bills are the home team.  Make no mistake, the Jets will still be able to limit the run.  But at Ralph Wilson, the Jets get edged out in this particular encounter.

PREDICTION: NYJ 17 – BUF 21

Week 13: Miami AT NY Jets

The Jets look to get out of their latest funk by taking out frustrations on the visiting Dolphins.  If practice reports are to be believed, Tannehill isn’t looking that great, and neither is their OLine, which will likely have a returning Mike Pouncey by that point.  The Jets will look to limit the contributions of former Bronco Knowshon Moreno all while still trying to limit Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline to pedestrian games.  If the Jets can get after the QB and force Tan-KNEE-hill into a few mistakes, its a wrap for the Jets.

PREDICTION: MIA 14 – NYJ 35

Week 14: NY Jets AT Minnesota

The Jets look to continue their recent good fortune by heading to the frozen tundra that is TCF Bank Stadium in Minnesota.  The Vikings fired Head Coach Leslie Frazier after 3 years and now have former Bengals coach Mike Zimmer at the helm.  With Minny in a QB situation of their own in Training Camp, would they be able to survive the onslaught that is a Rex Ryan defense.  If Teddy Bridgewater wins out, and I fully expect him to, he will merely be another victim; which is exactly what Rex Ryan does to rookie QBs.

PREDICTION: NYJ 24 – MIN 17

Week 15: NY Jets AT Tennessee

The Jets travel to Music City, Tennessee as they face the Titans in Week 15.  No longer having the explosive Chris Johnson will not impact them that much, considering how the last game played out.  I do still expect the Jets to struggle mightily, though not as much as the last time.  It will still be a close game methinks.  But home field advantage, strictly, gives this to the Titans.

PREDICTION: NYJ 27 – TEN 31

Week 16: New England AT NY Jets

This is it.  This is the Jets’  Super Bowl of the regular season.  Win this game, and playoff chances are that much more pronounced.  Revis returns again to Metlife, surely to a huge chorus of boos, but this time around he won’t be getting the last laugh. In much similar fashion to the NE/NYJ home game last year, the Jets are going to wipe the smirk off of Bill Belichick’s face as Rex tries to prove once and for all that the Patriots will NOT beat the Jets at home!

PREDICTION: NE 24 – NYJ 28

Week 17: NY Jets AT Miami

The Grand finale of the regular season sees the Jets travelling down to Miami.  Again, weak oline, weak QB play.  The defense does their job and sweeps the fins for the first time in a while.

PREDICTION: NYJ 31 – MIA 17

QUICK HITS

-OVERALL RECORD: 11-5

-TEAM OFFENSIVE MVP: ERIC DECKER
-TEAM OFFENSIVE MOST IMPROVED: EUGENE “GENO” SMITH III

-TEAM DEFENSIVE MVP: MUHAMMAD WILKERSON (who will FINALLY get the recognition he deserves, as well as a fat new contract)

-TEAM DEFENSIVE MOST IMPROVED: QUINTON COPLES/DEE MILLINER

-TEAM INSPIRATIONAL AWARD: DEMARIO DAVIS

-CALVIN PRYOR WINS THE DROY AWARD

-ERIC DECKER, CHRIS JOHNSON, DBRICKASHAW FERGUSON (who WILL rebound after an off 2013 season), NICK MANGOLD, MUHAMMAD WILKERSON, SHELDON RICHARDSON, ANTONIO ALLEN and CALVIN PRYOR ALL go to the Pro Bowl. Half of this list gets AP All-Pro recognition.

QUICK SUMMARY

This article originated from an article in which I saw the Jets predicted to only win 6 games.  I said there was no way the Jets could finish worse than 8-8.  And here I have provided you with an easy way in which the Jets could win ELEVEN. Not nine, not ten, ELEVEN.  Even the most staunch optimist does have to give way to reality.  And I do recognize that this scenario is not likely to pan out.  Adding a couple more losses on this schedule can easily happen.  But as you can see, it is not that difficult to see that the playoffs could be on the horizon for this team.

  • How can you call it an optimist guide and then have the Jets losing to shit teams like Buffalo and Tennessee? Tenn is going to be among the worst teams in the league this year, if the Jets can’t even beat the Titans Rex should get fired.

  • Big Al

    i enjoyed ur assessment and totally agree it will take a 25-26 ppg effort from this offense to have any chance at making playoffs this year, that is a FACT,, any less?,, its and 8 win season, u can go either way on some of your predictions,, ex: if u dont win in week 15 against tenn., i dont care where it is, u dont deserve to be in playoffs, but this is the Jets, and the schedule maker has a sense of humor , not only give the Jets one of the toughest schedules in football AGAIN!, make them finish the season again in Miami!, where the playoffs will be decided in that game

  • Big Al

    oh yeah,, 11 wins!!! give me some of what ur smokin!!!, lucky to get 9, 10 will be a miracle

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  • Jeremiah Johnson

    The defense won’t be able to carry the team this year with the current CB situation. However, if the progress we’ve seen from Geno so far this preseason is “real,” this will be the best offense we’ve seen from the Jets in a while.

    It remains to be seen if the special teams are actually improved this year. At this point, KR does not seem improved nor do coverage units. Saunders appears to be “pressing,” so I think there is potential for improvement here once he gets “comfortable.”

    I predict the Jets will go 10-6 (+/- 1 game) as I think Geno will continue to build on his preseason performance & the team’s offense will improve from ’embarrassingly bad’ to ‘competent,’ or maybe slightly better. This improvement will take some pressure off the defense by providing better field position, time to rest between series, & even an occasional lead early in the game allowing for more risk-taking by the defense & more obvious passing situations by opposing offenses resulting in more turnovers.

  • Frank Antonelli

    If Geno or Vick perform like a top 15 or better QB, the defense ranks in the top 5, and injuries are kept to a minimum then this is possible. Otherwise Rex would have to pull a minor miracle to get the team to the playoffs much less win 11 games.

  • I love it, sign me up.