TOJ Roundtable – New York Jets Stretch Run Edition

The TOJ staff ranks the difficulty of the Jets remaining seven games

The Turn On The Jets Roundtable is back to debate issues surrounding the New York Jets. Make sure to give all of the writers a follow on Twitter and if there is a question you want to see us debate, leave it in the comment section!

Rank the difficulty of the Jets remaining seven games…

Joe Caporoso – Throughout their first nine games, the Jets have struggled with the “physical” teams on their schedule while playing better against teams perceived to have a more “finesse” style of play. So yes, while the remaining schedule does only feature only one team with a winning record currently (Carolina), the Jets face a few “physical” teams including the previously mentioned Panthers along with the Browns and Ravens. The Jets will need to break this trend and beat teams who are led by their defense and won’t be bullied by the Jets upfront (although the Ravens offensive line should be having nightmares about stopping the Jets DL). When looking at the remaining divisional games, the Jets have always played well against Buffalo under Rex while struggling with Miami. At a minimum, you’d like to see the Jets get a split with the Dolphins, who they will be battling for a playoff spot with and handle business against Buffalo. Off the top of my head, here is how I’d rank the order of difficulty of the remaining games…

  1. at Carolina (Tough, physical team who will be battling for a playoff spot)
  2. at Baltimore (Ravens have owned Jets under Rex and the Jets haven’t been a good road team this season)
  3. at Miami (Final game of the season…could be for a playoff spot)
  4. vs Cleveland (Browns are hanging around playoff picture and have a very good defense)
  5. vs Miami (Let’s avoid a repeat of last season’s home game against the Dolphins)
  6. at Buffalo (EJ Manuel is going to struggle against the Jets defense)
  7. vs. Oakland (Would be huge let down to lose this game)

Cole Patterson – Ranking the difficulty of a schedule is normally not a daunting task. By “normally” I mean when ranking the schedule of a team that is consistently good, bad, or middle of the road. However, a different Jets team seems to show up once a week. One week they lose to a winless Steelers team, the next, they beat the Patriots. One week they lose by 40 to a middling Bengals squad, the next, they beat the 6-1 Saints at home.

One common myth about the NFL is that the transitive property occurs. If team A beats team B and team B beats team C, team A will not definitively beat team C. For example, the Jets beat the Patriots, the Patriots beat the Steelers, but the Jets could not beat the Steelers. And so the season goes. That said, one can look at a team and consider its past performance, schedule, healthy talent, coaching, and other factors and make an educated guess. So, here it goes, easiest to hardest:

7 – @ Bills: The Jets own the Bills in Rex Ryan’s tenure. Even if EJ Manuel comes back I fully expect the Jets to win. The Jets defense is rounding into form: the D-Line continues to dominate, Quinton Coples has risen from the ashes of his ankle injury, and the secondary has positive momentum headed into the Bye. The Jets defense stymied the once formidable Bills rushing attack in the first game as well, putting the game in the quarterback’s incapable hands. EJ Manuel hasn’t played since Week 5 and had an abysmal 45.2 QBR in his first bout with the Jets. If Manuel doesn’t play, Thad Lewis and Jeff Teul have both struggled against lesser defenses. Speaking of the last time the two teams played, Geno Smith dominated the Bills secondary, particularly Justin Rogers who still has a major role on defense.

6 – Dolphins: The Dolphin’s off the field issues have shrouded their on the field difficulties. Miami’s offensive line is a porous mess. Ryan Tannehill has fallen to earth after a hot start. The running game is a non-factor and the defense has been humbled. Chalk this one up as a W.

5 – Raiders: Terrelle Pryor is an athletic freak. However, he is still in his first year as a starter and the Jets have handled both mobile and young quarterbacks in the recent past. Their rushing attack is overrated and relies mostly on the fear of Pryor on the ground. The defense was exposed this weekend by the Eagles and may be more a product of smoke and mirrors than actual talent. Don’t forget, MetLife has been rowdy this season and could easily be a factor against an inexperience QB.

4 – @Dolphins

The Dolphins have gotten the better of Rex Ryan in his tenure as the Jets head coach, 5-3, but split 2-2 at home. Yet, it seems like the Jets games against the Dolphins are always a street fight, a struggle. Despite all the deficiencies listed above, don’t count out the Dolphins at home. If the Jets are playing for the post season and the Dolphins are out of the running, wouldn’t it just be so perfect for the Miami to knock their rivals out of contention?

3 – @Ravens: The Jets have historically struggled with the Ravens, most recently in the 2010 and 2011 debacles. However, this Ravens team is not the team of yore. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce have struggled to get going behind a struggling offensive line. Joe Flacco has been inconsistent (duh) and lacks offensive firepower. The defense is also not as potent as in the past. Don’t sleep on this game being away.

2 – Browns: It was difficult to pick between this game and the Ravens game, particularly because the Jets get the Browns at MetLife. However, I honestly believe Cleveland has been the better team to this point in the season. The Browns are ranked fourth in total defense after nine weeks. The Browns boast a solid, all around unit featuring CB Joe Haden, LB D’Qwell Jackson, LB Paul Kruger, SS TJ McDonald, and NT Phil Taylor. The offense has looked capable behind Jason Campbell and players like WR Josh Gordon and TE Jordan Cameron have given the Jets defense fits (see Vincent Jackson, Rob Gronkowski, and Jimmy Graham). Don’t underestimate this game because, you know, “Browns”. This is game is going to be a street fight.

1 – @Panthers: With three weeks left in the season, the surprising Jets and Panthers may be battling for their playoff lives. The Panthers, like the Browns, sport a young and dominating defense. Ranked third overall the Panthers defense is bound to give young Geno Smith fits. DE Charles Johnson, NT Star Loutlelei, a resurgent ILB Thomas Davis, and the DPOY candidate ILB Luke Keuchly are second against the run (behind only the Jets). Unlike the Browns, the Panthers balance a stellar defense with an explosive offense. Cam Newton is playing out of his mind, Jonathan Stewart’s return looks to keep the running game churning, and Steve Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., and Greg Olsen make a surprisingly potent trio.

In case you decided to read this far, my projection is that the Jets will go 4-3 losing to the Panthers, Ravens, and @Dolphins. A 9-7 record is better than many dared to hope for coming into the season and may be good enough to make January fun.

Dalbin Osorio – So, at the beginning of the season I sat around with my TOJ guys and we debated what we thought the Jets record would be (link right here). The records ranged from terrible to average, but here we are 9 weeks in debating the difficulty of the last 7 games that will lead into an unexpected playoff run beginning January 7th, 2014. The New York Football Jets have done better than most predicted thus far and isn’t it a testament to Rex “It’s Extension Time” Ryan that we’re even able to have this conversation? It’s why you have to extend the man now, but I digress.

The Jets remaining schedule is much easier than their first 9 games, as they face two teams with a .500 record or better. Even if they lose to those teams (Miami twice and Carolina once), that would still put the Jets at 9-7. However, I really think the two toughest games for the Jets are the game against Baltimore and the last game of the season against Miami in Miami. The Ravens defense always shows up to play against rex Ryan, with Terrell Suggs famously saying that “Rex has to deal with the monster he created.” The Dolphins, especially in Miami, always play the Jets tough and it is a division game. Plus, Cameron Wake is a beast and should have a field day with D’Brickashaw Ferguson. I think the Jets match up very well vs Carolina, and i’m not sold on Cam Newton and Carolina being able to move the ball against the Jets defense. Cleveland should be tough, but the Jets get them at home and should be able to handle Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, Tim Couch, or whoever’s lined up under center for the Browns. Here’s how i’m ranking them in order of least to most difficult, with a prediction at the bottom.

7. Raiders, December 8th
6. Dolphins, December 1st
5. Browns, December 22nd
4. Bills, November 17th
3. Panthers, December 15th
2. Dolphins, December 29th
1. Ravens, November 24th

The Jets are playing in January. There’s a good chance they catch New England for the division title, but more likely is that the Jets finish 11-5 and are the 5th seed in the AFC.

Frank Giasone – When you look at the Jets’ remaining schedule and see teams like the Raiders, Panthers and Bills, it’s tough not to think, “the hardest part appears to be over.”

And while that, to an extent, is true, (it’s always nice to be done with the New England’s and New Orleans’s of this league and still have a winning record) this Jets team will certainly be tested over the final seven weeks of the season.

This team (one that’s still looking for a way to string together consecutive wins) is saddled with the task of facing a surging Panthers team led by the ultra-athletic Cam Newton, the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, not to mention, three divisional games against two opponents.

While it could be worse (oh, it could be A LOT worse), most people understand that this team will be tested by the remaining schedule. Questions loom large, as most of us wait anxiously for the answers.

Can this Jets club actually win consecutive games? Will Rex find a way to finally beat a Baltimore team that’s clearly not at the level it was last season? Will this team finally “out-tough” some of the tougher teams on its schedule? Can Rex lead his team to a 4-2 record (or better) in the division? These are all valid questions for a team that has yet to prove it can be consistent.

My Prediction: The Jets will go 4-3 down the stretch, winning games against Oakland, Cleveland and Buffalo, losing at Baltimore and at Carolina, and splitting with Miami. That will leave the Jets at 9-7 on the season, and likely give them a chance to snag the sixth and final playoff spot…a truly remarkable occurrence considering what this roster looked like just a few months back.  

Connor Rogers – As the Jets entered a brutal three game stretch that included match ups against the Patriots, at the Bengals, and the Saints, I said one win keeps their season alive. Surprisingly enough, the Jets knocked off both New England and New Orleans at Metlife stadium, impressive wins against two elite quarterbacks. After that three game stretch, the Jets now enter the softer portion of their schedule. All I can really say is “so what?”

The Jets have been an inconsistent team all season. They’ve beaten two of the best the league has to offer in New England and New Orleans and lost to a Steelers team that is a shell of their former Super Bowl contending dynasty. The Bengals blew them out in a game where all three phases of the Jets team played as poorly as possible. Yet here they are, sitting at 5-4 and in control of their own playoff hopes.

When one asks to “rank” the difficulty of the Jets final seven games, the answer is quite simple: low. The Bills and Dolphins are very average at best along with the Browns and Chargers. The Ravens have been a mess all season as Joe Flacco has taken a step back. The Raiders have made decent strides but they don’t have a good football team. They are a bad football team that have been given a nice spark from young quarterback Terrell Pryor.

The hardest game on the schedule is the match up against a very gritty Panthers team who have a very talented quarterback in Cam Newton. My final prediction? I say the Jets go 5-2 with their only losses coming to the Panthers and the away game in Miami. Playoffs baby, playoffs!

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the EVP of Content at Whistle Sports