New York Jets 2012 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

Ryan Alfieri@Ryan_AlfieriCorrespondent IIIApril 18, 2012

New York Jets 2012 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

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    We have known each team's opponents for months, but now that free agency has shifted the balance of power in the NFL, this year's schedule release has more layers of intrigue than last year's lockout-frozen spring. 

    The Jets start of the season is particularly important, especially in terms of Mark Sanchez's performance. If the Jets start slow, feelings from 2011 will creep out. Fueled by the presence of Tebow, things can spiral out of control in a hurry. 

    Here is a breakdown of all 16 games and how the Jets season will play out in 2012. 

Week 1: Buffalo Bills at New York Jets

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    Sunday, September 9th
    Game Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    This game is going to be very telling for both teams. The Jets need a fast start after spending the last five months on the back pages of the New York Post for all the wrong reasons. If Sanchez struggles early, the calls for Tebow will be loud. 

    Meanwhile, the Bills have made a ton of additions in free agency, including the top defensive prize in Mario Williams. If Buffalo is going to finally get themselves out of the AFC East basement, now is the time to do it. 

     

    When the Jets have the ball:

    I expect Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano to set the tone for the season by dishing out a heavy dose of Shonn Greene with some Joe McKnight sprinkled in. Not only will this take pressure off Sanchez, but it will slow down Mario Williams. 

    I also would anticipate a lot of Tebow's wildcat package. The Jets will want to know how effective it can be, and if it does work; it will plant a seed in the minds of future opponents. 

    The biggest concern for the Jets will be how they will block Mario Williams. Williams abused Hunter in their matchup in 2010, and there is no reason to believe he cannot do the same this time around. 

     

    When the Bills have the Ball:

    How well the Bills throw the ball will largely depend on what the Jets' safety situation looks like in a few months. Plus, the Bills will probably add a receiver or two between now and the start of the season. In any case, I would put my money on Revis and the Jets to keep the Bills in check through the air. 

    What the Jets need to worry about is how to stop Fred Jackson and Steve Spiller in the perimeter run game. There's a decent chance that they will be starting a rookie outside linebacker, and whoever that is will have to be ready to play sound football to keep those two in check. 

     

    Prediction:

    Even after landing Mario Williams, I think the Jets are the better team. This game will come down to turnovers, and the Jets re-commitment to the running game works in their favor. I like the Jets in a low-scoring affair.

    Jets 14, Bills 9

Week 2: New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Sunday, September 16th
    Game Time: 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS

    Having spent the better part of the decade in Baltimore, Rex Ryan has plenty of respect for the Steelers and how they do business. 

    The Jets played the Steelers twice in 2010, winning the regular-season matchup before losing in the AFC championship game. You can bet that the Jets will want revenge. 

     

    When the Jets have the ball: 

    It will be interesting to see if the Pittsburgh defense is still the quality unit it has built a reputation on. They had to cut a lot of quality veterans in cap-saving moves.

    Once again, pass protection will be an issue against the Woodley and Harrison, who, in all likelihood, will be healthy and energized.

     

    When the Steelers have the ball: 

    The big question for the Steelers right now is who their starting running back will be with Rashard Mendenhall out. As a result, the Jets should focus all of their attention on making sure Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown don't break the game open a few big plays. 

     

    Prediction:

    This will be another low-scoring game, but I get the feeling that the Steelers age on defense catches up with them. 

    Jets 20, Steelers 17

Week 3: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins

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    Sunday, September 23rd
    Game Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    The Jets have some not-so-fond memories of Miami, as it was here in Week 17 of the 2011 season in which the locker-room issues came to light. 

    The Dolphins are reeling after missing out on Jeff Fisher and Peyton Manning. Without a franchise quarterback to build on, the Jets need to capitalize and sweep this team to make a run at the postseason much easier.

     

    When the Jets have the ball:

    Sanchez tends to have a lot of issues against the Dolphins, so I suspect the Jets would like to continue a run-heavy plan. Finding an answer to blocking Cameron Wake will be key.

     

    When the Dolphins have the ball:

    Without Brandon Marshall to worry about, the Jets' task of stopping them from moving the ball become much easier.

    Still, the Jets have been vulnerable against the perimeter run game, and Reggie Bush is still on the roster. Stop Bush and the rest should fall into place.

     

    Prediction: 

    The Dolphins are new cellar-dwellers of the AFC East. This is a game the Jets have to win.

    Jets 24, Dolphins 6 

Week 4: San Francisco 49ers at New York Jets

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    Sunday, September 30th
    Game Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

    The last time these two teams played, Brett Favre was under center for the green and white. The 49ers are a much-improved team, evidenced by their presence in the 2011 NFC championship game. 

     

    When the Jets have the ball:

    All 11 of the defensive starters from 2011 are back on the roster for the 49ers, which means the Jets will have a tough time moving the ball, particularly against this front seven. Sanchez will have to make a few key throws and avoid turnovers in this game. 

    Once again, slowing down Aldon and Aaron Smith will pose quite a challenge for a Jets offensive line that has struggled in protection. 

     

    When the 49ers have the ball:

    Watching a Revis vs. Moss matchup will be quite a sight to behold, but the Jets need to be more concerned about Vernon Davis than anyone else.

    I don't anticipate Alex Smith to be terribly effective, but shutting down Frank Gore early in the game will be key.

     

    Prediction:

    This one could go either way, but I just can't get the thought of Vernon Davis making a huge play to win the game for the 49ers out of my head.

    Jets 13, 49ers 20 

Week 5: Houston Texans at New York Jets

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    Monday, October 8th
    Game Time: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

    The first of four prime-time games takes place at home and against a worthy opponent in the Houston Texans. Rex Ryan is undefeated against Houston in the regular season. 

     

    When the Jets have the ball:

    No unit in the NFL showed more improvement than the 2011 Texans. Even without Mario Williams, this unit stopped a lot of quality offenses. 

    The Jets's best bet is to tun the ball and keep Sanchez safe from Connor Barwin coming off the edge. Santonio Holmes will have to find a way to get open against Jonathan Joseph. 

     

    When the Texans have the ball:

    The Texans had the most dominant running game in 2011, but after losing the right side of their offensive line, it remains to be seen whether or not they can have the same success. 

    The Jets will have to find a way to stop Arian Foster, especially in the passing game. Revis can take care of Andre Johnson, but Owen Daniels may cause some problems. 

     

    Prediction:

    Both teams have similar strengths and weaknesses, but the Texans have the better quarterback and running game. Sanchez makes a few mistakes, and the Jets drop one on national television.

    Texans 24, Jets 17

Week 6: Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets

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    Sunday, October 14
    Game Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    The Jets are a small part of Peyton Manning decorated career—their matchup in the 2010 AFC Wild Card Game would be Manning's last game as a Colt. 

    If this game took place two years ago, it would probably on Sunday night. However, now that the Colts are in a total rebuilding mode, this is a game the Jets should win. 

     

    When the Jets have the ball:

    The Colts have always been an easy team to run on, and the Jets want to run the football. The Colts rely on their speed rushers to apply pressure, which can be slowed down by a solid ground game. 

    So, yes, expect a lot of running from the Jets.

     

    When the Colts have the ball:

    Assuming Andrew Luck is going to b under center at this point, there's no way to tell how well he will play from the outset. Either way, with a new defensive coach in place, the Colts will run the ball more than they have in the past. 

     

    Prediction:

    The Colts have, perhaps, the weakest roster in the NFL. The Jets need to win this game handily. 

    Jets 28, Colts 6

Week 7: New York Jets at New England Patriots

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    Sunday, October 21st
    Game Time: 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS

    No matter what kind of record these teams may have at this point in the season, this rivalry brings out a ton of emotion from both sides. These two franchises have a genuine hatred for each other, and they don't try very hard to hide it. 

     

    When the Jets have the ball:

    After losing their two best pass-rushers from last season, the Patriots defense may actually be worse than it was a year ago. Sanchez is going to have to have a big game through the air and avoid turnovers. 

    Dustin Keller has been a "Patriot killer" throughout his entire career, and he will have to be big in the red zone so the Jets can capitalize on their red-zone opportunities. 

     

    When the Patriots have the ball:

    Assuming Revis takes away Welker, stopping Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez is going to be quite a task. The Jets need to get a pass rush from their front four, which is why landing Melvin Ingram in the first round is so vital. 

    Luckily, the Patriots offensive line is a bit thinner as Matt Light leans toward retirement.

     

    Prediction:

    The Jets come in to Foxborough with a ton of attitude and steal one. 

    Jets 24, Patriots 20

Week 8: Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

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    Sunday, October 28th
    Game Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    The Jets really do not have much of an excuse to not sweep the Fins this year, but for some reason, they tend to put up a good fight whenever they play the Jets.

    Still, coming into MetLife with what will probably be a losing record, I do not expect much to change from this matchup to the next.

    Perhaps, Sparano give his old team a heavy dose of their own medicine with a lot of Tebow and Wildcat stuff.

    Otherwise, if you stop Reggie Bush, you can stop this entire offense. No matter how many dumb mistakes Sanchez makes, lock this one up as a Jets win. 

    Prediction: Jets 20, Dolphins 9

Week 10: New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks

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    Sunday, November 11th
    Game Time: 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

    The last time these two teams met, the Favre-led Jets were in the middle of an epic collapse of an 8-3 season, and Mike Holmgren was coaching his last NFL game. 

    Seattle is a much more talented team than their win total may indicate, particularly on defense. Points will be at a premium in this game.

     

    When the Jets have the ball:

    Running the football will be very difficult against the Seahawks front seven, and throwing it against their secondary will not be an easy task.

    D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Santonio Holmes need to come to play, as Brick needs to shut down Chris Clemons, and Holmes needs to get separation from Richard Sherman. 

     

    When the Seahawks have the ball:

    We still have a lot to learn about the Seahawks offense. They still may draft Ryan Tannehill, and Matt Flynn is still very unproven.

    Either way, bringing down Marshawn Lynch has to be the top priority, forcing the game into the hands of an inexperienced quarterback.  

     

    Prediction:

    This is going to be a tough, defensive game in which the team that causes the most turnovers wins. I'll take the quarterback with the most experience here. 

    Jets 14, Seahawks 10

Week 11: New York Jets at St. Louis Rams

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    Sunday, November 18th
    Game Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    Last time these two teams played, the Rams were not a very good team. 

    Now, the Rams are still not a good team.

    However, they do have a quarterback and some offensive weapons that need to be accounted for. This could be an ideal "trap" game as the Jets look to their next matchup against the Patriots the following Thursday. 

     

    When the Jets have the ball:

    It may be tempting to throw the ball against a defense that was so bad against the pass a year ago, but the Rams were so devastated by injuries at the corner position that the numbers are skewed. 

    The Rams are soft up the middle, and the Jets should attack. Expect a heavy dose of Greene and Tebow. 

     

    When the Rams have the ball:

    I would expect the Rams to add a receiver, perhaps Justin Blackmon, in the draft. Whoever it is, they should not be a problem for the likes of Darrelle Revis. Luckily, the Rams also lack a dynamic presence at the tight end position. 

    The key will be stopping Steven Jackson and teeing off on Bradford as he waits an eternity for his receivers to gain separation. 

     

    Prediction:

    The Jets are just not a good matchup or the Rams. I like New York by a significant margin. 

    Jets 28, Rams 13

Week 12: New England Patriots at New York Jets

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    Thursday, November 22nd
    Game Time: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

    Part II of this intense rivalry will be on Thanksgiving this year, which means you can forget about having a relaxing time with your friends and family. It's time to stress about how much you want to beat the Pats into a pulp!

    The Patriots do have an added dimension to their offense this year in Brandon Lloyd. I am Rex Ryan, I still leave Revis on Welker and take my chances with Cromartie on Lloyd. 

    Sanchez is going to have to come up big in these Patriots games, but after beating the Pats once already in 2012, I just don't see the Jets sweeping the Brady Bunch.

    Prediction: Patriots 31, Jets 21 

Week 13: Arizona Cardinals at New York Jets

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    Sunday, December 2nd
    Game Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

    This game concludes the Jets tour of the much-improved NFC West. Both of these teams are good defensively and want to run the football and share their own issues on the offensive line and inconsistency at quarterback. 

     

    When the Jets have the ball:

    The Cardinals have a very good front three and can get some heat on the quarterback with players like Sam Acho coming off the edge. However, you can run the ball on the Cardinals, as guys like Darnell Dockett do not always play with great discipline. 

     

    When the Cardinals have the ball:

    By far, the most exciting matchup of the season will be in this game between two Pitt alums, Darrelle Revis and Larry Fitzgerald. Even if Revis ties in that battle, the Jets should have little problem shutting down the Cardinals.  

     

    Prediction:

    The Jets are not going to run over these guys, but I don't see how Arizona moves the ball. 

    Jets 20, Cardinals 7

Week 14: New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Sunday, December 9th
    Game Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS 

    Obviously, the media is going to make a spectacle out of Tebow going back to his hometown, but he will have more of an impact on the Jaguars' ticket sales than anything else. 

     

    When the Jets have the ball:

    Running the ball on these guys is not easy, so Sanchez will have to make a couple of nice throws against an underrated secondary. 

    Playing into the Jets favor is that the Jaguars don't have a great pass rush. Scoring quickly would be a great way to get the Jags playing on their heels. 

     

    When the Jaguars have the ball:

    At this point in the season, there's no telling who will be playing quarterback for the Jags. Whether it's Henne or Gabbert hardly makes a difference, because everyone on the planet knows the Jaguar offense runs through Maurice Jones-Drew. 

    You stop Jones-Drew, you win the game. 

     

    Prediction: 

    I don't see either team having a good day on offense, but the Jaguars are one of the few teams with a worse quarterback situation than the Jets. 

    Jets 17, Jaguars 9

Week 15: New York Jets at Tennessee Titans

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    Monday, December 17th
    Game Time: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

    This is a bit of an interesting choice for a Monday night game. Neither team had a great season in 2011, but they are both talented and competitive enough to win every game they are in. 

     

    When the Jets have the ball:

    The Titans lost a couple of solid defenders in Jason Jones and Cortland Finnegan, making this a good night to open it up a bit. However, the Jets must be weary of Kamerion Wimbley against Wayne Hunter. Running the ball will be important to keep balance.  

     

    When the Titans have the ball:

    There is a solid chance that Jake Locker will be taking snaps at this point in the season. It also remains to be seen whether or not Chris Johnson can return to his 2010 form. If he can, he instantly becomes the top priority. 

    Also, keep an eye on the matchup between Kenny Britt and Darrelle Revis. the winner of the battle may decide the game. 

     

    Prediction:

    As I said, the winner of Revis versus Britt will win the game. I am putting my money on Revis every time. 

    Jets 24, Titans 20

Week 16: San Diego Chargers at New York Jets

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    Sunday, December 23rd
    Game Time: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

    The Jets end their home season with their last game on prime time against an opponent that will certainly want to avenge their loss from last season. 

     

    When the Jets have the ball:

    The Chargers are getting old at the corner position, which would entice the Jets to come out throwing. But running the ball is still the best option.

    Late in December against a soft, "finesse" team, the Jets will use a ton of Shonn Greene and Wildcat to keep Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates off the field.

     

    When the Chargers have the ball:

    Even though they do not have Vincent Jackson, the idea of having to cover a healthy Antonio Gates is frightening.

    The Jets must also stop Ryan Mathews from getting anything going on the ground to keep the Chargers one dimensional. The more predictable the Chargers become, the easier it will be to contain Gates.

     

    Prediction:

    Say what you want about Philip Rivers and the Chargers, but they are fantastic in December. Sanchez makes a few too many mistakes against a veteran defense to cost the game.

    Chargers 27, Jets 21 

Week 17: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

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    Sunday, December 30th
    Game Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    The Jets (and Bills) season comes full circle, as the playoff-bound 11-4 Jets come into Ralph Wilson stadium to try and put together the best regular-season record in the Ryan era.

    At this point in the season, the Bills are either in last place or trying to get themselves a wild-card spot.

    Assuming the Jets are not resting starters, they still match up fairly well against the Bills, except for how they will handle Mario Williams.

    I expect another low-scoring affair with a lot of turnovers, which seems to be a common theme in Jets-Bills games.

    Prediction: Jets 18, Bills 12 

Final Thoughts

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    After an offseason filled with an incredible amount of drama, the Jets turned out just fine. Twelve wins is enough to make any coach happy, and depending on how the Patriots fare, could be enough to finally win the division and get themselves a home playoff game. 

    Admittedly so, these predictions are coming from a very optimistic point of view. But hey, after all, it's only April; Jets fans have all of football season to start pulling their hair. 

    One thing I did not mention in each of the slides was how the Tebow-Sanchez dynamic would play out over the course of the season. Bottom line, Tebow is too much of a wild card to try and predict how his career will play out. 

    Sanchez, to his credit, is a tougher guy than people realize. I get the feeling that he will use all of this negativity and doubt surrounding the team and turn it into something positive. 

    An overlooked aspect of this season is how the defense will bounce back to its former dominance. If the Jets are able to add a bona fide pass-rusher in the draft, they could be well on their way to reclaiming their status as a feared defense. 

    As nice as my predictions played out, it's important to remember that because of the way the Jets play the game, they can lose to any team, making them as likely to be 6-10 as they are to be 12-4.