5 Must-Watch Matchups on the New York Jets' 2014 Schedule
After a surprising 8-8 season and the acquisitions of high-profile offensive playmakers Michael Vick, Eric Decker and Chris Johnson, the Jets have decently high expectations entering the season.
Many fans and experts envision Gang Green at least competing for a wild-card spot in an AFC absent of many powerhouses.
While the Jets have many intriguing matchups on their schedule, there are five games that will be must-watch television.
Week 2 at Green Bay Packers
After an easy matchup against the lowly Oakland Raiders at home to open the season, the Jets will face their first major challenge of the year when they head to Lambeau Field to play the Green Bay Packers in Week 2.
The contest will be the first true indicator of how good Gang Green will be in 2014, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The Packers consistently possess one of the most explosive offensive units in the league, and with the development of Eddie Lacy into a star running back, their offense is even more dangerous.
The Jets defense, on the other hand, is a bit of a question mark—specifically on the back end. The team has yet to replace Antonio Cromartie with an effective starter and Dee Milliner struggled for the majority of his rookie season.
While New York should be able to move the ball on the offensive end against a subpar Green Bay defense, it's hard to see the unit keeping up with Aaron Rodgers and Co. for 60 minutes.
Sandwiched between three home games, there's no denying the significance of this game early in the season, as a win could mean a superb, undefeated September for the Jets.
Week 6 vs. Denver Broncos
There are so many storylines that come along with this game that it's hard to focus on its X's and O's.
Peyton Manning will be returning to the site of his worst nightmare, a 43-8 demolition in the Super Bowl.
Eric Decker will be facing his former team and will be lined up across one of the league's best corners in Aqib Talib.
The Jets' questionable secondary will be going up against one of the NFL's historic aerial attacks.
On the field, though, the Jets will undoubtedly be outmatched in terms of talent.
The Broncos were one of the league's best teams entering the offseason and they improved greatly with the additions of DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, Emmanuel Sanders and T.J. Ward.
It's hard to envision the Jets squeaking this one out—even at home.
However, it'll be interesting to see how New York fares against the AFC's best team.
Week 7 at New England Patriots (Thu.)
Yep, the Jets play the two best teams in their conference in a span of five days.
New York travels to New England for a Thursday Night Football matchup with its archnemesis in the Patriots just days after playing against the defending AFC champions.
The game will be a major challenge for the Jets, but they faced the same short week last year and nearly topped the Patriots in a sloppy game.
In addition to the usual intrigue that comes with this divisional rivalry, there will be the Darrelle Revis factor.
How will the cornerback react to facing his old team? How will the Jets treat Revis?
Tensions will be high and the game will undoubtedly be sloppy, but it's also one of the most important games on New York's schedule.
If Gang Green can find a way to win this one, it would put the team in the driver's seat in the AFC East heading into the second half of the season.
It'd also be a great way to send a message to the treacherous Revis.
Week 15 at Tennessee Titans
Although New York's midseason schedule is filled with tasty matchups, things don't quite boil over until the season's final weeks.
The Jets will head to Tennessee in Week 15, likely in the thick of the AFC playoff race.
For those of you that don't remember, Tennessee was the site of Mark Sanchez's collapse a couple of years ago and the 38-13 beatdown in Week 4 last season, so there are definitely demons to be exorcised here.
Another major headline in this one is the return of Chris Johnson to the franchise that drafted him.
It'll be interesting to see Johnson's role in New York's offense all season, but in this one, you have to think Marty Mornhinweg will use him to the maximum extent.
This game could easily decide the Jets' fate in 2014, as a win could place them in the lead for a postseason spot and a loss could doom them.
Week 17 at Miami Dolphins
It seems as if Gang Green heads to Miami for the regular-season finale every year.
The Jets-Dolphins rivalry is one of the oldest and most underrated in the NFL, and with both teams looking like postseason contenders this upcoming season, this game could decide the fate of both squads.
In addition to New York's playoff hopes, the job security of Rex Ryan will also likely be in the balance when Week 17 rolls around.
So which Jets team will show up?
The one that lost a heartbreaker in 2012 and collapsed internally or the one that came together as one and defeated the favored Dolphins a year ago?
Only time will tell.