Final Game-by-Game Predictions for the New York Jets' 2012 Season
Out of all 32 teams in the NFL, the Jets may be the most difficult team to predict. Not only have they been careful not to unveil their Wildcat package, but many of their key starters sat out most of the preseason.
The Jets also employ a style of playing closely contested games that allows them to beat anyone—or get beat by anyone.
Here are the final 16-game predictions for the 2012 Jets season.
Week 1: vs. Buffalo Bills
This game will ultimately be determined by whether or not the Jets can block the Bills' new and improved defensive line.
There is little doubt that the Bills will put Mario Williams against the young Austin Howard. Howard played well at right tackle in the preseason, but he has yet to be tested against a talent like Mario Williams, and there is no predicting how he will perform under the bright lights of the regular season.
Defensively, I cannot see Steve Johnson having many catches against an angry, motivated Darrelle Revis. I can also see a deeper Jets defensive line having success against a relatively average Bills line.
Overall, this should be a close game with not a ton of points between the two teams, but the Jets' elite defense is enough to get them a win even if the offense stumbles.
Prediction: Jets 17, Bills 12
Week 2: @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are one of the more difficult teams to predict this year. There are still questions along their offensive line after first-rounder David DeCastro suffered a "severe" injury.
The defense is aging. Throw in a new offense that is without their lead back, and just about anything can happen in the Steel City this year.
Despite their lingering questions, as long as Big Ben is taking snaps and their defensive cornerstones stay healthy, this team is going to be in contention.
While the Steelers do have two quality receivers in Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, Antonio Cromartie is one of the few corners in the league who can run with Wallace, and Revis is, well, Revis.
At the same time, the Jets are going to have a long day dealing with Lamarr Woodley and James Harrison. The key to this game will be limiting turnovers and winning the field position battle. As a result, I can see the Jets using a heavy dose of Tebow, who had perhaps the best game of his career against the Steelers in the 2011 playoffs.
Prediction: Jets 13, Steelers 10
Week 3: @ Miami Dolphins
After starting out the season with two tough games, beating the 'Fins is a must if the Jets plan on making the playoffs.
Miami has a severe lack of talent at the offensive skill positions, especially at wide receiver. As long as they don't let Reggie Bush run like he did in his USC days, The Jets defense should have no problem dealing with Miami's offense.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets need to just settle for whatever points they can without taking too many risks. Punt the ball, kick field goals and score a touchdown or two and move on to the next game.
Prediction: Jets 21, Miami 9
Week 4: vs. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are one of the worst possible matchups for the Jets.
This game could look much like last year's Jets-Ravens brawl with ugly offense, turnovers and defensive touchdowns. The Jets are going to have tough sledding running on the 49ers' best front in football, and Mark Sanchez is not going to have much time throwing with Aaron Smith abusing the Jets' offensive line.
At the same time, the Jets defense should have no problem with the ball-control, short-passing 49ers offense. A Randy Moss-Revis rematch will be great to watch, but does anyone truly think that an older, rustier Moss has any chance against Darrelle?
Still, the 49ers have a slightly less pathetic offense with an edge in special teams, giving them the edge in this matchup.
Prediction: 49ers 9, Jets 6
Week 5: vs. Houston Texans
The Jets have had the Texans' number, beating them both in 2009 and 2010 (in dramatic fashion). The Texans are going to want revenge for having a game swept from under their feet two years ago.
The Texans are arguably the most balanced team in the NFL, boasting a strong running game, defense and a quarterback that can get the ball to Andre Johnson.
The biggest test for the Jets will be to figure out how to stop the one-cut rushing attack of Arian Foster. Revis has shown that he can handle Andre Johnson by himself, but Foster has had success against the Jets before.
On the other side, the Jets are going to have their hands full running on a stout Texan front with a greatly improved secondary from their pitiful 2010 version. Blocking Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed is going to be a challenge as well.
Like the 49ers, the Texans are just not a good matchup for the Jets with their balance and ability to win a game in just about any fashion.
Prediction: Jets 17, Texans 24
Week 6: vs. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck's amazing qualities as a prospect could make the Colts a better team than most predict, but there is simply not enough talent on both sides of the ball for the Colts to score on and stop the Jets.
The Jets should be able to run on a Colts team that is young and inexperienced up the middle. While Vontae Davis and Jerraud Powers is a decent tandem of starting corners, depth is a huge issue in Indianapolis.
Meanwhile, while Luck may be one of the most impressive rookie quarterbacks in recent memory, Rex Ryan's complex defense will be unlike anything Luck has ever seen. Revis and Cromartie should have no problem with the Colts receivers as well.
Luck may make a few plays to make this game interesting, but the Jets are simply too talented for the Colts to compete.
Prediction: Jets 27, Colts 13
Week 7: @ New England Patriots
This could be the game that makes or breaks the Jets season. Based on my humble predictions, the Jets will come into this game at a solid 4-2 record, which is likely good enough for second in the division.
If the Jets want to stun the world and finally usurp the Patriots for divisional supremacy, this is the game to do it.
Obviously, the Patriots have a ton of offensive weapons for the Jets to deal with. Assuming Revis takes out Welker, Cromartie vs. Lloyd is an even matchup that could go either way.
The real issues for the Jets lay in how they decide to cover the Pats' tight ends, who dominated the league last year.
However, the Patriots' offensive line has been shaky this preseason. Given the Jets' newfound strength on the line, this could be that matchup that tips the fight in the Jets' favor.
On the other side of the ball, Sanchez needs to get protection and avoid short drives. This could be another Wildcat-heavy game.
While I expect this game to be closer than most would predict, the edge goes to the Patriots here because of their home-field advantage.
Prediction: Jets 21, Patriots 28
Week 8: vs. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are ripe for the picking to be swept by every team in the AFC East.
Assuming Ryan Tannehill has not established himself as a top-level quarterback in a two-month span, this should be a repeat of their first meeting, except the Jets have the benefit of playing in their own swampy backyard.
The Jets pick up one more win here to head into the bye week at a solid 5-3, which should set them up nicely to be right in the thick of the playoff picture in the second half of the season.
Prediction: Jets 24, Dolphins 10
Week 10: @ Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are almost as difficult to predict as the Jets. While Russel Wilson was electric in the preseason, it was, after all, just the preseason.
What we do know about the Seahawks is that they should field a pretty solid defense, particularly against the run. They are also stacked in the secondary with Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman.
The onus will be on the defense to keep the score down enough for the Jets to squeak out points. However, mobile quarterbacks have been a problem for the Jets, which we saw when they were embarrassed by Michael Vick last year.
Plus, Marshawn Lynch should be healthy and suspension-free by the time this week rolls around.
Both teams are similar in structure, and this team can go either way, but Wilson's mobility could be the difference in this game.
Prediction: Jets 14, Seahawks 17
Week 11: @ St. Louis Rams
While I have an inkling that the Rams will be much more competitive this year than in 2011, they are still a ways away in terms of overall talent.
The Jets may have a significant edge in this matchup because they will know a lot about Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's system. The Jets' defensive line will feast on a weak Rams line, and Sam Bradford simply does not have the weapons to throw to to strike any fear into the Jets D.
With the additions of Cortland Finnegan and Michael Brockers, the Rams defense is going to give the Jets some problems, especially in the run game. This could be a heavy Dustin Keller game, as the weakness in the Rams defense lies in their linebackers and safeties.
While neither team will score a lot of points, the Jets are just more dominant on defense.
Prediction: Jets 20, Rams 13
Week 12: vs. New England Patriots
Both of this year's Patriots games come at pivotal points in the season, sprinkled in between "easier" opponents to either give the Jets momentum or lead to "trap" games.
The Jets are going to have to rely on their home crowd to throw off the Patriots offense, just like they did back in 2009. With the Patriots having some issues on their offensive line, crowd noise could be the difference in this game.
If the Jets are going to get an upset this season, this is the game to do it.
Prediction: Jets 27, Patriots 21
Week 13: vs. Arizona Cardinals
While their defense could be much better than most will expect, the Cardinals are one of the few teams in the NFL with more issues on their offense, particularly along the line, than the Jets.
Criticize Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum for not addressing the offensive line issues all you want, but at least he acts like he is trying to do something about it. Meanwhile, The Cardinals appear to be hoping that the NFL becomes a flag football league and that offensive and defensive lines are banned from the game based on their lack of investment into their unit.
The most exciting matchup in this game will be between two Pitt alums, Darrelle Revis and Larry Fitzgerald. The last time these two met in 2008, Revis was not quite in other-worldly status under Eric Mangini. Seeing Revis and Fitzgerald go at it while in the peak of their careers will be a delight for all football fans.
Ultimately, both offenses will struggle (a common theme in Jets games), but the Jets offense is slightly more competent than that of the Cardinals, giving them the edge in this matchup.
Prediction: Jets 18, Cardinals 9
Week 14: @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Say what you will about Blaine Gabbert's supposed fear of pass-rushers, but the young quarterback has looked like a different man this preseason, and it's not just his new haircut.
The Jaguars defense is among the better units in football and will give the Jets plenty of problems. Plus, by the time the Jets face the Jags, MJD will be running on all cylinders.
However, the Jets are simply a bit better on both sides of the ball, even if the Jaguars are a much-improved team offensively. Rex Ryan's defense will present more problems for Gabbert than any other team than he has seen so far.
Prediction: Jets 20, Jaguars 10
Week 15: @ Tennessee Titans
While Jake Locker is loaded with potential as a passer, there really is no way of telling what kind of player he will be three months from now.
If Kenny Britt is back in the lineup, the Titans have the potential to be an explosive offense. However, even though Locker can prove that he can improve his accuracy and get the ball to his weapons, it is impossible to put any trust into the first-year starter.
Plus, the Titans have significant issues on the interior of their offensive line, where Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson will feast all day long.
Meanwhile, the Titans have lost a significant amount of pieces on defense, including James Jones and Cortland Finnegan. Sanchez should have some success against a depleted secondary and a defensive line that lacks depth.
Prediction: Jets 24, Titans 14
Week 16: Vs. San Diego Chargers
Not only are they without Vincent Jackson and Mike Tolbert this year, but they are weak in the middle of their defense where the Jets should have success on the ground. Quentin Jammer is aging quickly, and they lost veteran safety Steven Gregory in free agency.
This game should look very similar to their matchup last year, in which the Jets utilize their run-first formula to a "T" and have one of their better offensive performances of the season. Since this game will take place in late December, the cold weather and swirling Meadowlands winds favors the run-heavy Jets.
Prediction: Jets 28, Chargers 21
Week 17: @ Buffalo Bills
By now, the Jets are sitting nicely at 11-5 with a wild-card spot locked up. There is certainly a good chance that the Jets could be resting starters if everything goes to plan.
Even if this game is a "normal" game with starters going at 100 percent, the Bills tend to be great at stealing at least one game away from favored divisional opponents. There is a good chance that the Bills could be fighting for a playoff spot here as well, and beating the Jets in front of their home crowd would be icing on the cake.
With the Bills riding a lot of emotion against their division rivals, they make a few more plays in this game with timely turnovers to keep the Jets at their 11-win cap for the season.
Prediction: Jets 14, Bills 28
Week 1, Jets vs. Bills - W
Week 2, Jets @ Steelers - W
Week 3, Jets @ Dolphins - W
Week 4, Jets vs. 49ers - L
Week 5, Jets vs. Texans - L
Week 6, Jets vs. Colts - W
Week 7, Jets @ Patriots - L
Week 8, Jets vs. Dolphins - W
Week 9, BYE
Week 10, Jets @ Seahawks - L
Week 11, Jets @ Rams - W
Week 12, Jets vs. Patriots - W
Week 13, Jets vs. Cardinals - W
Week 14, Jets @ Jaguars - W
Week 15, Jets @ Titans - W
Week 16, Jets vs. Chargers - W
Week 17, Jets @ Bills - L
Final Record: 11-5
Most experts are picking the Jets to go somewhere in the 8-8 range, especially after the Jets' preseason filled with offensive woes.
However, the Jets have a favorable schedule against two of what will likely be the worst divisions in football in the AFC South and the NFC West. Outside of playing Tom Brady's Patriots twice, the Jets have few matchups with elite quarterbacks and face few potent offenses.
While this sets up the Jets to have a great statistical season on defense, their offense will have tough sledding against stout defenses all season long. Teams like the Seahawks, Cardinals, 49ers, Jaguars and Bills have underrated defenses that are going to give a Jets offense that is struggling on its own even more problems to deal with.
At the end of the day, the Jets are still talented enough to be in the playoff race, as long as they can keep mistakes to a minimum and play to their potential.
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