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Jets Schedule Analysis

The National Football League released their full schedule earlier this week, wetting the beaks of the football hungry, a nice little snack before the NFL Draft next week before fans across the country can start seriously talking football again. The New York Jets, like the rest of the AFC East teams, have one of the hardest schedules in the league (they are officially seventh, facing teams with a combined .568 winning percentage - all the top eight toughest schedules are by teams in the AFC East and NFC South) but that doesn’t mean come December the Jets will have had the toughest road.
Rex Ryan makes his coaching debut on the road, going against the Houston Texans down in Reliant Stadium. The Texans are everyone’s darling heading into 2009, and it will be a tough place to start the season. It won’t get any easier when the Jets come back home for the next two weeks, hosting the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans in weeks two and three. The Jets hosting the Pats has become an early season tradition, this will be the fourth straight season the Jets will host the Pats in the home-opener, and the Jets have not won a home game against the Pats since 2000. The Titans won’t be the same team as last year without Albert Haynesworth, but it will still be a tough game.
The Jets head down south the next to weeks, stopping first in New Orleans for a battle with the Saints. Going against the Drew Brees-led Saints offense is tough in any environment, even more so when they are on their home turf. The Jets will then be in Miami for a Monday night tilt with Chad Pennington and the Dolphins. What did the Dolphins get for their 10-game turnaround last season? The toughest schedule in the league this season. But you can throw out the records in Jets-Dolphins, they are always close contests.
The Jets then head back home and get their first look at the Buffalo Bills with Terrell Owens at wide receiver. We will all be paying attention to Bills a lot more this season, and the Bills divisional games might have as much juice as Jets-Dolphins-Pats matches, but it remains to be seen just how much better, if it all, the Bills will be with TO. The Jets will then head to their own personal house of horrors in Oakland to play the Raiders, who even when they are terrible always seem to give the Jets trouble. After that the Jets come back home to play the Dolphins for the second time in four weeks before the bye week, symmetrically separating the season in to two eight-game halves.
The Jets start the second half of the 2009 season home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that should be better than they were last year, but play in the tough AFC South. The Jets will next head to Foxboro for a tilt with the Patriots. Tom Brady should be back to his old self by then, and the game will be tough to win. The Jets are back home Week 12 to host the Carolina Panthers, and who knows if Jake Delhomme will still be the Panthers QB by then. His performance against the Arizona Cardinals in last year’s playoffs was one of the worst postseason games ever.
The Jets follow that with a trip north of the border to play the Bills in Toronto on a Thursday night. The location could play into the Jets advantage. Instead of potentially windy and freezing conditions in front of rabid Bills fans in Orchard Park, NY, the Jets will play in a domed stadium in font of non-partial and probably non-caring fans. The Bills lost last year’s Toronto game to the Dolphins 16-3. After that the Jets head all the way south to Tampa to take on the Buccaneers, whose 2008 collapse was worse than the Jets. Tampa went from 9-3 to 9-7, losing all four of their games over the last month and missed the playoffs as well.
The Jets head back home Week 15 to play their third NFC South opponent in four weeks, the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan did everything right in his rookie year, and everyone in Georgia is holding their breath, hoping there is not sophomore slump. The Jets final road game of the regular season is in Indianapolis against Peyton Manning and the Colts. Hopefully, the Colts will have wrapped up their playoff position by then and rest their starters for much of the game. The might be the only way to beat the Colts that late in the season. The Jets close the regular season at home against the Cincinnati Bengals, completing the biggest irony in football that the Jets could very well play the last game ever at Giants Stadium.
As for the schedule quirk the has the Jets playing their first two home games during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Jets might be stuck. Observant Jews that would not go to the games also couldn’t go on a Saturday afternoon (if they really are as observant as they claim) which would be the ideal makeup date. The Pats, the Jets week two opponent, plays on Monday night in week one and won’t let the Jets move the game any earlier, nor should they, going from Monday to Thursday or Friday is too daunting for an NFL team. New York fans also don’t like Monday night games all that much, having to either miss work late Monday or early Tuesday. Jewish Jets fans with season tickets might just have to sell their tickets to friends or on StubHub if they choose not to go to the games. Life isn’t always fair, as Jewish fans in Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, San Diego and other NFL cities will have the same problem. NFL games are on Sundays, and that just happens to be the day those Jewish holidays fall on this year. And over the course of the Jets season, there will be a lot more problems to worry about. Otherwise it just wouldn’t be a New York Jets season.

Jason Levy

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