Week 14 — vs. TennesseeThe Jets and Titans will square off one week earlier than they did last season. The 2-11 Jets rode into Nashville to face the 2-11 Titans in a game that would ultimately decide who would have the 2nd overall pick in the draft. Both teams won in this game — the Jets won the game by a score of 16-11 (first 16-11 final in NFL history), and the Titans won the rights to the 2nd overall pick. With that pick, the Titans selected Marcus Mariota despite the swirl of rumors that they would trade the pick and go with Zach Mettenberger at QB.
As far as this matchup goes, there are a lot of question marks in regards to the Titans because no one knows who will start at QB. It is said to be an open competition, but I do not remember the last time a QB taken second overall did not win the job (Blake Bortles was taken 3rd last year and lost the job to Chad Henne, but took over in week three). If Mettenberger is the starter, expect a balanced Titans offense as Ken Whisenhunt will have trust in his 2nd year QB. If Mariota is the starter, we will know what to expect of him once he plays a couple of games, but as of now there’s no way of knowing what to expect; he will be a mystery until we see what type of offense Whisenhunt implements. Either way, the Titans will be starting a young, inexperienced QB that has only one proven weapon in Kendall Wright (though I believe Dorial Green-Beckham was the steal of the draft) against a Jet defense that will wreak a lot of havoc.
The Titans are one of those teams that will likely spend a few more years at the top of the draft board, as they lack talent and have holes all over the place. With that being said, this is the last game of the season in which the Jets will be heavy favorites.
Week 15 — at Dallas (Saturday Night)
A trip down to Arlington is the start of a brutal three game stretch to end the season, but before I get ahead of myself, this showdown between the Jets and Cowboys has the makings of a great one: the league’s top defensive line vs. the league’s top offensive line; Dez Bryant vs. Darrelle Revis; Chris Christie sitting in Jerry’s box while the opponent is a team from the state he governs.
This matchup is similar to the early season matchups the Jets have with the Colts and Eagles — the defense will be tested by a very good offense, and the offense should not have much trouble against a middle/back of the pack defense. This game is going to come down to the battle in the trenches. The entire Cowboys offense revolves around the offensive line — if the men up front can buy Tony Romo some time and clear paths for Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle, this team can put a lot of points on the board. It’s up to Wilkerson, Richardson, and the rest of the Jets defensive line need to find a way through an offensive line that was virtually impenetrable last season. If the “Sack Exchange 2.0” (make sure to buy some t-shirts) can get a good push and Revis can tie up Bryant as he has done in the past, the Jets may come out of big D with a big W.
Week 16 — vs. New EnglandThis is the second time the Jets and Pats will meet up in the regular season — here is what I said in regards to New England when I broke down their week 7 matchup:
The “demise of the Patriots” conversations began prematurely last season, but there may be cause for concern in New England this season. Forget about the whole Brady suspension saga — while that contributes to the whole scenario, the Pats just do not have the pieces in place to do what they have done in the past. Every offense needs a threat on the outside, and this team does not have that. They can only get by on Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman for so long, especially when you consider the heightened risk of injury these players face as they make their living going over the middle. The loss of Shane Vereen hurts two-fold — it takes away a solid runner as well as a deadly receiving threat.
Defensively, they lost both Revis and Brandon Browner in the secondary, and the front seven is not what it once was. For the first time in recent memory, the Jets defense should have little trouble with the Pats offense, and the Pats defense may have its hands full with the Jets offense. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are still Tom Brady and Bill Belichick so you have to avoid counting the Patriots out, but the outlook in New England may be the bleakest it has been in a long time. (Editor is STILL terrified after reading this)
Week 17 — at Buffalo
This is also the second time the Jets and Bills will meet up in the regular season — here is what I said in regards to Buffalo when I broke down their week 10 matchup:
Here it is — the matchup everyone circled on their calendars when the schedule first came out, as Rex Ryan makes his return to MetLife Stadium to face the Jets for the first time since his firing. The whole “return of Rex” aspect of this game will be nice for headlines, but this game has huge implications and will be more than just the return of a coach. These team will likely be vying for a wild card spot, or even the division title, and this primetime Thursday night game may go a long way in determining which team plays into January.
The current versions of the Bills and Jets are pretty much cut from the same cloth. They both have tremendous defenses, strong run games, dangerous receiving threats, and question marks at QB. Jerry Hughes, Marcel Darreus, Mario Williams, and Kyle Williams make up a stout defensive front, and the back end of the defense is strong with emergence of Stephon Gilmore. Buffalo has the edge in the run game after acquiring LeSean McCoy, and Percy Harvin and Sammy Watkins will form a dynamic receiving duo. The only hole on this Bills roster is under center, as they have made it clear that all three QBs — Matt Cassel, E.J. Manuel, and Tyrod Taylor — are in the mix for the starting job.
You can expect a hard fought, physical war between these two teams in a game that can go either way. Watch for weather to be a factor in this one as it usually is in Buffalo around this time of year. I would get into which team is favored by which weather scenarios, but these teams are essentially carbon copies of each other and will be affected identically.
The home stretch of the schedule starts off with a game in which the Jets should be heavy favorites, but it gets a lot tougher from there. As will be the case throughout the season, the defense will keep Gang Green in every single game, it’s just a matter of Geno Smith putting some points on the board and turning close loses into close wins.
After going through the entire schedule, I feel like it would be wrong to not give a prediction on the team’s record for 2015. Because of a defense that has the ability to be historically good, they can win a few of those games that you would normally chalk up as losses when the schedule comes out; however, I need to temper my optimism because we don’t know what we are going to get out of Geno. If he makes tremendous improvements to his game then the sky is the limit, but for now I will say that the Jets end the season 9-7.