In a recent “Joe Jet 5,” I explored five crucial components to a potential playoff berth: front office autonomy, innovative coaching, a solid offensive line, improved defensive backs, and a franchise QB. Assuming the Jets remain sound in all five areas, a trip to the postseason is a realistic aspiration. In this week’s “Joe Jet,” I predict 10 victories Gang Green will take to secure a spot in the playoffs for the first time in almost nine years.
Week 1 (Sept. 8) vs. Bills – WIN: Buffalo on the menu? Well, expect Le’ Veon Bell to be first in line. Bell carved up the Bills and delivered one of the best games of his career the last time they converged (Dec. 11, 2016). Bell set the franchise record (Steelers) with 236 rushing yards and tied another with three touchdown runs. Expect Bell to come out fresh, energetic and “licking his chops” with Buffalo as the main course.
Week 2 (Sept. 16) Monday Night vs. Browns – WIN: The backstory surrounding this game would make for some great reality television. It’s a matchup worthy of its own Hard Knocks season. Where do I start? Sam vs. Baker? OBJ returning to MetLife? Revenge for a week 3 loss? A scorned Greg Williams?
While many viewers would be consumed by the rematch between the first and third picks in the 2018 draft, the most pivotal part of this drama is Gregg Williams’ role.
I’m sure this is a game that the former Browns interim Head Coach/defensive coordinator has marked on his calendar. I get goosebumps thinking about the raw emotions and energy that will be exuded on the field, sidelines, and stands. Anticipate a raucous home crowd and a perfect game plan by Williams thwarting the Browns’ potent offense, for the victory.
“They want to be coached. They want to defend MetLife Stadium for you guys.” -Gregg Williams
Week 3 (Sept. 22) @ Patriots – LOSS: The Jets haven’t won a regular-season game at Gillette Stadium since November, 13 2008; it’s hard to find a coach who can devise a strategy as seamlessly as Bill Belichick. With a glaring weakness at center, I fully expect Bill to take advantage of the interior and generate a pass rush that will leave Sam scrambling—much like he did to Sam in week 17 (2018), Phillip Rivers in the AFC Divisional Playoff game and Pat Mahomes in the first half of the AFC Championship. Pats take this one at home.
Week 4: BYE—Huge win this week with the boys chilling and enjoying Mimosas by the pool.
Week 5 (Oct. 6) @ Eagles – WIN: If we could turn one matchup into plot lines for a novel, this would be it. The battle for “Gang Green,” The West Coast Kid versus The Country Hunter, and Philadelphia’s former second in command—Joe Douglas—returning home, makes for a grand narrative.
I fully expect the Jets to come off the bye week invigorated and ready for the challenge ahead. The Jets (0-10) and Texans (0-5) remain the only NFL teams winless versus the Eagles; however, Joe Douglas’ familiarity with his former team proves to be a considerable advantage, and the Jets edge out the Eagles for their first-ever victory.
Week 6 (Oct. 13) vs. Cowboys – LOSS: I predict the Cowboys will finish the season as a top 10 defensive unit. Their strong showing against the Saints week 13—where Alvin Kamara was held to just 36 rushing yards and Drew Brees threw for a paltry 127—is a sign of things to come. Last year’s 7th ranked unit in coverage, Demarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and Byron Jones turns out to be a tough matchup for the Jets. I foresee a relatively low scoring battle that the Cowboys ultimately win—with a field goal—late in the fourth quarter.
Week 7 (Oct. 21) Monday Night vs. Patriots – WIN: This game will evoke emotions you haven’t felt since Eric Decker’s TD grab—in overtime—on December 27, 2015. Gase has split victories with the Pats the last two seasons, and nothing changes this year with the Jets. Gase and company will learn from the loss suffered in week 3 and make the necessary adjustments to beat their fiercest rival.
Week 8 (Oct. 27) @ Jaguars – LOSS: According to PFF, Sam scored his second-lowest grade (36.9) of the season against the Jaguars in 2018. Sam improves, but the Jaguars defense does just enough to keep the Jets at bay.
Week 9 (Nov. 3) @ Dolphins – WIN: Adam Gase returns to his former team with a massive chip on his shoulder and insider information. Rivalry games can be tough, but Gase’s knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of specific individuals will prove useful. Expect Gase to formulate a game plan that exploits the Dolphins’ most vulnerable spots.
Week 10 (Nov. 10) vs. Giants – WIN: Big Blue? More like “black and blue.” The Jets defense will take advantage of a weak offensive line, subpar receiving group, and an immobile Eli Manning. This will be a statement game for the Jets as they oust “big brother” and put their stamp down as New York’s number one team. Expect to see the Empire State Building lit up in green for the second time in four years.
Week 11 (Nov. 17) @ Redskins – WIN: Rookie Dwayne Haskins will most likely be starting at this point. It’ll be a learning experience for Haskins against a stout Gregg Williams defense. According to PFF, Sam had his third-lowest grade (43.5) of his rookie year against Williams’ scheme. I doubt Haskins does much better and the Jets take an easy one in DC.
Week 12 (Nov. 24) vs. Raiders – LOSS: On paper, it appears the Jets have the edge against a four-win team (2018) traveling from the west coast; however, the Jets encounter a much-improved Raiders offense led by Antonio Brown and rookie Josh Jacobs. Carr capitalizes on the weakness at cornerback, and the Raiders find themselves in the winner’s circle.
Week 13 (Dec. 1) @ Bengals – WIN: The only “Big Cat” to look out for in this one is Leonard Williams. Andy Dalton has some weapons (Mixon, Green, and Boyd), but it won’t matter. The Bengals lost first-round pick Jonah Williams (LT) to injury and their LG, Clint Boling, unexpectedly retired. Andy Dalton will be wearing so much green in this game you’ll be wondering which team he plays for.
Week 14 (Dec. 8) vs. Dolphins – WIN: I can’t envision the Phins winning more than 5 games in 2019, and I don’t anticipate one of those victories coming against the Jets. Gase swept the Jets two out of the three years he was with the Dolphins. Fortunately, for Gang Green, he’s on their sideline now. The Jets bring out the brooms and take two from the Dolphins for the first time since 2015.
Week 15 (Dec. 12) @ Ravens – LOSS: It’s a battle of attrition in this low scoring defensive matchup. Jets contain Lamar Jackson, but it’s not enough to take the victory.
Week 16 (Dec. 22) vs. Steelers – LOSS: This will be a showcase of the old and the new. Ben and Sam will put on a classic display for fans; Le’ Veon Bell and James Conner will leave everything on the field. Unfortunately, in the end, the Steelers top-ranked offensive line (ranked first in 2018 by PFF) keeps Big Ben clean and opens up just enough holes for Conner; it’s a steal for Pittsburgh at MetLife Stadium.
Week 17 (Dec. 29) @ Bills – WIN: History tends to repeat itself and this season will be no different. The Jets come into Ralph Wilson Stadium needing a win to propel them into the next stage. Many current players weren’t on the team 4 seasons ago, but it won’t matter, family is family, and the Jets will avenge the loss that kept them out of the playoffs Week 17, 2015.
Gase goes 4-0 against the Bills and Dolphins similarly to his rookie year as Head Coach—with the Phins—when he swept both the Bills and Jets en route to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth.