New York Jets 2014 Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions
The Jets face severe uncertainty at cornerback, a fiasco which has been highlighted by the release of Dimitri Patterson, as reported by Jason La Canfora of CBSSports (h/t Twitter). Dee Milliner also remains sidelined with a high-ankle sprain and could miss the Jets' opener against the Oakland Raiders, according to FOX Sports.
The two previous players were initially projected to be the Jets' starting cornerback tandem in 2014, and although Milliner will be a vital component of Gang Green's defense at some point, there is no definitive timetable for his return.
The Jets secondary was the backbone of the team during two surprising runs to the AFC title game, but it is now a noticeable weak spot on an otherwise stout defense.
New York's defensive backfield will be severely tested in 2014, as the team is scheduled to do battle against six of the top-10 passing leaders from last season.
For the Jets to earn a playoff berth in 2014, they need vastly improved production from their offense, which averaged just 18.1 points per game in 2013. The season-long performance from second-year quarterback Geno Smith will determine whether the Jets are able to achieve their goal of earning a playoff spot.
The following slideshow offers hypothetical game-by-game predictions for the 2014 Jets:
Week 1: Vs. Oakland Raiders
The Jets were fortunate to draw the Oakland Raiders in Week 1, specifically because of their depleted secondary.
A matchup against a perennial losing team will enable head coach Rex Ryan and his staff to examine the abilities of safety-turned-cornerback Antonio Allen and ascending defensive back Darrin Walls.
The Raiders ranked 25th in total passing yards in 2013, averaging 208.8 yards through the air per game. They also ranked 28th against the pass.
This game should serve as a confidence-booster for the Jets offense while also granting insight as to just how depleted Gang Green's secondary actually is.
Prediction: Jets 23, Raiders 13
Week 2: At Green Bay Packers
The Jets' brigade of tough contests against legitimate contenders begins in Week 2 against the Green Bay Packers.
New York was pitiful on the road in 2013, managing to win just two games away from MetLife Stadium. That absolutely must change if the Jets are going to compete for a playoff spot this season.
Expect a heavy dose of the "two-dreaded monster" in the Jets' Week 2 contest. The game plan ought to be to slow the Packers' potent air attack, although that task could prove too onerous for the Jets' banged-up defensive backfield.
Prediction: Packers 24, Jets 16
Week 3: Vs. Chicago Bears
The Jets' first glimpse at the national spotlight in 2014 will happen in Week 3 on ESPN's Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears, who flaunt perhaps the best cast of offensive playmakers in the NFL.
Gang Green will be up to the challenge, sparked by the return of second-year cornerback Dee Milliner and improved play from both Allen and Walls.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler completed 63.1 percent of his pass attempts in 2013 before succumbing to injury, meaning that it'll be crucial for the Jets to generate a strong pass rush. That shouldn't be a problem, considering the abilities of Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson.
Cutler has a reputation for getting flustered when constantly pressured. Expect the Jets to bring the heat and force a few turnovers in what could be a benchmark game.
Prediction: Jets 26, Bears 23
Week 4: Vs. Detroit Lions
The Jets will round out three consecutive games against NFC North opponents in Week 4 against the Detroit Lions.
A win could potentially put New York in first place in the AFC East at the season's quarter-mark, although they'll be hard-pressed to do so after coming off back-to-back contests against quality offenses.
The Lions pose a challenge different from the Packers and Bears in that they boast a stout run defense. To compare, Green Bay and Chicago ranked 25th and 32nd respectively against the run in 2013, which bodes well for the Jets.
On the flip side, the Lions flaunt the sixth-best rush defense, allowing opponents to record a stingy total of 99.8 rushing yards per game last season. Winning this battle will be a tough task for Geno Smith, who could be forced to throw more than offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg would consider optimal.
Prediction: Lions 28, Jets 17
Week 5: At San Diego Chargers
The Jets will look to earn their first road win of the season in a Week 5 showdown against the San Diego Chargers. This game poses another difficult challenge to the Jets' youthful, although steadily improving, secondary.
It'll be important for the Jets to score early in this game, considering the outstanding efficiency of Chargers QB Philip Rivers, who led the NFL with a 69.5 completion percentage last season.
The Jets will counter the Chargers' strong air attack like they always do: with a deliberate wear-down-the-defense rushing attack. It'll be crucial for the Jets to capitalize on red-zone opportunities in what could be a nail-biter.
Look for Chris Johnson to bust loose for a game-changing touchdown in the fourth quarter, much like Shonn Greene did in the Jets' 2010 AFC Divisional Game win in San Diego.
Prediction: Jets 21, Chargers 20
Week 6: Vs. Denver Broncos
The Jets face their biggest test of the season in Week 6 against the defending AFC champion Denver Broncos.
This game will mark offseason acquisition Eric Decker's first chance at showcasing to his former team why he's worthy of being dubbed a "No. 1" wideout.
It'll also be another fierce challenge for the Jets' youthful defensive backfield. Broncos QB Peyton Manning will look to redeem a poor performance from Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium and potentially run the Jets out of the building.
Expect the Jets to hang tough, but Denver's explosive offense will prove to be too much for Gang Green to overcome.
Prediction: Broncos 31, Jets 20
Week 7: At New England Patriots
The Jets typically have issues at Foxborough but will look to reverse that trend in Week 7 against their archrival.
The rivalry between the Jets and Patriots took to new heights in their second matchup of the 2013 season when the Jets reportedly alerted officials of "illegal" field-goal push tactics, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York.
The Patriots' use of illegal pushing techniques ultimately yielded a 15-yard penalty, granting Nick Folk another opportunity to seize the game for the Jets. New York won the game 30-27 in overtime.
New England will come at Gang Green with a vengeance in their first showdown of the season, winning the game in ironic fashion on a last-second field goal by Stephen Gostkowski and dropping the Jets below the .500 mark for the first time in 2014.
Prediction: Patriots 24, Jets 23
Week 8: Vs. Buffalo Bills
The Bills seem to show up on the schedule whenever the Jets are in desperate need of a win. They'll get that chance in Week 8 at MetLife Stadium.
A win would help set the tone for the second half of the season, whereas a loss would be devastating to New York's playoff hopes. Fortunately for the Jets, the Bills remain one of the hapless teams in the NFL.
Smith enjoyed one of his best games as a pro in a shootout affair in Week 3 of the 2013 season, throwing for 331 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-20 win over Buffalo.
This game should flaunt similar excitement from the Jets offense; the difference this time around is that the outcome won't be close.
Prediction: Jets 34, Bills 16
Week 9: At Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs will likely have some difficulty trying to improve upon a surprising season that saw head coach Andy Reid lead his new team to the playoffs in 2013.
The Jets will attempt to outlast the Chiefs on the road in Week 9, but they could be hard-pressed to leave the Midwest with a win.
Kansas City ranked 25th against the pass and 22nd against the run in 2013 but allowed just 19.1 points per game, fueling their strong season.
The Jets' road woes will surface in a difficult midseason contest with the bye week upcoming. Expect a low-scoring game where the Jets will have a chance to win in the fourth quarter but come up just short, falling to 4-5 on the season.
Prediction: Chiefs 17, Jets 13
Week 10: Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Jets' most brutal home loss of the 2013 season happened in Week 6 against the Steelers. New York will look to avenge that 19-6 defeat on their home turf in Week 10 of the 2014 season and ideally put themselves into position to at least contend for a wild-card spot in the AFC playoffs.
It'll be crucial for New York to stretch their record to the .500 mark before their Week 11 bye week.
The night leading up to this game will feature a prototypical Ryan speech that fires up the Jets and leads to a strong performance against a playoff-hungry team, led by Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace, who combine to record three sacks in a hard-fought win.
This game serves as a turning point for the Jets, who now must win at least four of their final six games to make the playoffs.
Prediction: Jets 20, Steelers 13
Week 12: At Buffalo Bills
The well-rested Jets will take some serious momentum into their Week 12 divisional clash with the Bills.
At this juncture of the season, it's vital the Jets take care of business against lesser opponents. It's also pivotal for Smith to consistently demonstrate a strong command of the offense, enabling his team to finish scoring drives with touchdowns.
The Jets will dismantle the Bills on the road behind a gritty defensive effort, stymieing second-year QB E.J. Manuel while forcing four turnovers.
Prediction: Jets 28, Bills 6
Week 13: Vs. Miami Dolphins
The Jets will fly home to Florham Park after back-to-back wins for the first time all season in Week 13 while in a deadlock tie for second place in the AFC East with the Miami Dolphins.
Gang Green will get the nod as slight favorites, given their ability to play well at home and the steady development of Smith, along with an improved secondary.
This back-and-forth battle finds the Jets trailing by three points with under six minutes to go before Smith leads an 80-yard scoring drive to drain the clock and ice the game.
Prediction: Jets 24, Dolphins 20
Week 14: At Minnesota Vikings
After a three-game win streak, the Jets come out flat, struggling to prevent "AD" from carving up the Jets' stout run defense. New York finally pulls away in the second half, scoring 17 points to take a commanding 31-14 lead.
The Jets' fourth straight win puts them in favorable position to at least snag a wild-card berth with four games remaining in the regular season.
Prediction: Jets 31, Vikings 21
Week 15: At Tennessee Titans
The Jets' hot streak continues on the road against the Tennessee Titans, who obliterated Gang Green in an early-season showdown in 2013. Chris Johnson's homecoming is met with a mixed reaction of "boos" and cheers while the Jets get down to business.
Johnson scores an opening-drive touchdown, gashing the Titans' makeshift defense for 22 yards on a sweep, to put the Jets in front 7-0. The Jets lead increases to 21 before the Titans score a garbage-time touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Jets improve to 9-5 on the season with a big time showdown upcoming against the Patriots with a chance to move into a first-place tie in the AFC East.
Prediction: Jets 27, Titans 13
Week 16: Vs. New England Patriots
The Jets defense fails to rise to the occasion in the biggest game of the season, allowing two first-quarter touchdowns on deep post patterns that challenge Gang Green's inexperienced secondary.
Tom Brady faces minimal pressure from the Jets' vaunted defensive line, allowing him to linger in the pocket and read through his progressions before finding open receiving targets.
Smith's elusive running ability helps generate first downs and ultimately keep the Jets close, but a crucial forced throw on a 3rd-and-long late in the fourth quarter results in an interception that spells doom for New York.
The Patriots claim the AFC East title at MetLife Stadium as the Jets fall to 9-6 and stare down possible elimination in Week 17.
Prediction: Patriots 30, Jets 24
Week 17: At Miami Dolphins
After having the air blown out of their tires in a demoralizing loss in Week 16, the Jets appear lackluster against the Dolphins in the regular-season finale.
Smith regresses after a strong season that sees him complete over 60 percent of his pass attempts with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, but he commits two costly gaffes in the second half against a mathematically eliminated Miami team.
New York falls to 3-9 in the season's final three weeks under Ryan from 2012-2014 but backs into the NFL playoffs as the No. 6 seed with a record of 9-7 after the Cincinnati Bengals polish off a season sweep of the Steelers.
Prediction: Dolphins 26, Jets 20