Looking into the Crystal Ball: Breaking Down the N.Y. Jets 2009 Schedule
Can you feel it?
The 2009 NFL regular season is just around the corner, fans of all shapes and sizes are preparing their tailgating barbecue grills, sofas, and HDTV's for another season of NFL action.
Meanwhile, there are those who are still uncertain about the direction of this franchise, and whether this team is a year, two years, or, heaven forfend, five years away from being a genuine contender.
At a time like this, it is a good idea to look through the New York Jets schedule to attempt to figure out what road the Jets will travel in 2009.
Week One: N.Y. Jets @ Houston Texans
The Jets are 3-0 lifetime against the Texans, but that was then, when the Jets were a consistent wild card contender, and the Texans were a bumbling franchise. Flash forward: the Texans are still a bumbling franchise, but many expect the team to finally get over the hump and contend this year.
They have a pretty explosive offense with receiver Andre Johnson (115 rec. 1,575 yards, eight TDs in 2008), tight end Owen Daniels (70 rec. 862 yards, two TDs), and running back Steve Slaton (268 carries 1,282 yards, nine TD's). Not many people have heard of this trio, but all three are considered top five players at their position in the NFL.
Moreover, quarterback Matt Schaub was paid a lot of money by the Texans in 2007, but in each of the last two seasons Schaub has suffered crippling injuries that prevented him from showing the league that he is a legit starting quarterback.
If Schaub can stay healthy this year, then maybe fans will see the potential Pro Bowler that the Texans thought they signed from the Falcons.
Defensively, Mario Williams went from draft day bust to super starter in 2008. His 12 sacks and 53 tackles a sure sign that Williams is turning the corner and developing into a feared defensive end.
This could mean disaster for the Jets new 46 D. Not only do they have to face this explosive offense, but they will do it without Shaun Ellis and Calvin Pace, both of whom have been suspended from this game because of substance abuse. The encounter could get ugly fast.
PREDICTION: TEXANS 31, JETS 13
Week Two: New England Patriots @ N.Y. Jets
The Jets will go from facing the explosive Texans to confronting the best quarterback in football: Tom Brady. That's right, Brady's back in town and would love to show the nation that he is all the way back by destroying the team he loves to torment, the New York Jets.
Even though the Jets have an improved defensive scheme, it won't mean anything as long as Brady can find Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and company when he needs to.
If Mark Sanchez should be making his Giants Stadium debut on this day, it could prove to be a very long afternoon for the rookie. Bill Belichick specializes in confusing young opposition quarterbacks with multiple blitzes, various coverages, and a million substitutions. Expect Teddy Bruschi, Richard Seymour, and company to have a field day smacking, pushing, kicking, tripping, and generally squelching the USC product.
PREDICTION: PATRIOTS 45, JETS 7
Week Three: Tennessee Titans @ N.Y. Jets
This should be interesting for one reason: the Jets will suit up in their old New York Titans uniforms, while the Tennessee Titans will dress in their old Houston Oilers uniforms.
As far as the game is concerned, this could be the Jets best chance to move off the skids in the opening weeks of the season. Even though the Titans were great last year, their offense was pretty vanilla especially when it mattered the most.
The Titans don't feature a legit deep threat, unless Justin Gage and Nate Washington all of a sudden discover that they are supposed to be leading receivers. In addition, when was the last time Kerry Collins put together back-to-back, solid seasons? Exactly.
The positives for Tennessee are its ground game and defense. Chris Johnson dashed to 1,228 yards while LenDale White scored 15 touchdowns for the Titans. Consequently, this should be a great matchup; the Titans run offense against the Jets new 46 Defense will tell the tale of what should be a total slug fest.
Defensively, the Titans were one of the best in the NFL, ranking seventh in total defense. They struggled to stop Leon Washington and Thomas Jones last November in a 34-13 Jets victory; it will be interesting to see how the Titans strategize their game to contend with the Jets dynamic running duo.
PREDICTION: JETS 20, TITANS 17
Week Four: N.Y. Jets @ New Orleans Saints
This game represents another high powered offense with which the Jets have to deal with.
Gang Green will face the NFL's best quarterback in 2008, Drew Brees, who threw for 5,069 yards and 34 touchdowns. Combine that with the development of running back Pierre Thomas, the return of Reggie Bush, and a brand new Saints defense led by former Redskins Defensive Coordinator Greg Williams, and this meeting could shape up to be a difficult afternoon for the Jets.
PREDICTION: SAINTS 34, JETS 21
Week Five: N.Y. Jets @ Miami Dolphins
Last season, Chad Pennington returned to haunt his old team, beating them in the final game of the regular season to capture the AFC East title, sending the Jets home for the winter. What can Chad do for an encore?
If anyone has followed Pennington's career, an return engagement for him entails spending 11 weeks on the disabled list with a broken tibia, or a hang nail. Leave us not forget that Pennington is the king of injuries, so, if he is still on the field by week five, that might constitute a miracle in itself.
Many will expect the likes of Ronnie Brown, Greg Camerillo, and Anthony Fasano to have repeats of their 2008 success. And I believe in the tooth fairy. This game could be ugly to watch. What were executives at ESPN thinking picking this game for Monday Night Football?
PREDICTION: DOLPHINS 17, JETS 14
Week Six: Buffalo Bills @ N.Y. Jets
Ahhh! Terrell Owens makes his first appearance at the Meadowlands as a Buffalo Bill. Now that's a storyline in itself.
The Bills have a pretty good offense, aside from T.O.
Lee Evans should get more catches since T.O. will be double and triple covered, freeing up space for Evans to do damage. Marshawn Lynch still ran for 1,000 yards even though injured, and Trent Edwards still has the potential to become a solid NFL quarterback.
As for the Jets, they will have to game plan for Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel, who is returning from a knee injury. Schobel has made a career of sacking Jets quarterbacks, and it will be imperative for them to keep Schobel away from Mark Sanchez if the Jets have any plans of winning this game.
PREDICTION: BILLS 20, JETS 10
Week Seven: N.Y. Jets @ Oakland Raiders
The Raiders could be an interesting case this year. It's general knowledge that the Black Hole hasn't been the same for a very long time, but football faithful have to be intrigued by coach Tom Cable's approach of focusing on the basics in July preseason camp.
Fundamentally sound teams are hard to find, and if the Raiders are going to turn it around, knowing the fundamentals will be key in doing so.
This should be a layup for the Jets, considering the number of players that need to step in big time on the Raiders sideline. Then again, we thought that last year's Jets vs. Raiders game was a layup, too, since Gang Green had Brett Favre, yet the Jets lost 16-13. Like Chris Berman says on ESPN: "That is why they play the games."
PREDICTION: JETS 24, RAIDERS 14
Week Eight: Miami Dolphins @ N.Y. Jets
Depending on what happens in week five, this game will be a revenge game for either team. If the Dolphins are desperate for a victory, don't count them out, even if Chad Pennington is on the DL at this point in the season.
If the Jets need this one, they have enough talent on defense to frustrate Ronnie Brown and Wild Cat Dolphins all day long. Keep in mind, Rex Ryan was the only coordinator to figure out how to stop the wild cat last year when he was with the Ravens.
PREDICTION: JETS 23, DOLPHINS 20
Week Nine: Bye Week
Bye weeks are crucial to a team's success, and the Jets could be preparing for the make or break point of their schedule, especially in the first four games after the break.
Week 10: Jacksonville Jaguars @ N.Y. Jets
A lot of people expect the Jaguars to have another bad season, but if the Jaguars are good at one thing it is the fact that they keep people guessing. In 2007, everyone expected Jacksonville to struggle...what happened? The Jaguars went 11-5 and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers twice at Heinz Field.
In 2008, people thought the Jags would take the next step as a contender...what happened? David Garrard underperformed and the team fell backwards at 5-11. So what will it be in 2009?
The Jags feature a terrific running back in Maurice Jones Drew, who will need to show that he can be a feature back with Fred Taylor now in New England. Ageless wide receiver and overall good guy, Tory Holt, will likely be Garrard's number one target this year. And if the Jaguars can regain their 2007 form on defense, then Jacksonville can surprise once again.
Note: The Jets have not beaten the Jaguars since 2003.
PREDICTION: JAGUARS 19, JETS 13
Week 11: New York Jets @ New England Patriots
The Jets travel to New England for more punishment. If Mark Sanchez survives this trip, then they need to erect a statue of him in Florham Park. Ummmm...maybe when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady retire.
PREDICTION: PATRIOTS 24, JETS 6.
Week 12: Carolina Panthers @ N.Y. Jets
Here's another challenge for the Jets revamped defense; the jets must cover Steve Smith and Mushin Muhammad and try to keep both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in check. Good luck!
The Panthers also boast a ferocious defense led by Julius Peppers. Expect them to swallow whole Sanchez and the Jets running game throughout the evening.
PREDICTION: PANTHERS 27, JETS 17
Week 13: N.Y. Jets vs. Buffalo Bills @ Toronto
The Jets will take their 46 defense and go international, or at the very least, across the 45th parallel border anyway. The Bills expanded their brand to Toronto last year, as if Toronto sports fans don't see enough of losing with the Blue Jays. The Bills didn't succeed in their initial game in Toronto last December against Miami, so they are raring to garner a victory this time; the Jets could furnish the perfect punching bag.
PREDICTION: BILLS 26, JETS 14
Week 14: N.Y. Jets @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This game may finally be the reprieve that the Jets need. The Buccaneers are starting over with a young head coach, Raheem Morris, and rookie QB Josh Freeman.
These type of games are very tricky, especially late in the season. Teams this young are playing spoiler, and a victory over a New York team would be a boon for the young Buccaneers. The Jets should be able to hold down the Bucs offense long enough to pull this one out.
PREDICTION: JETS 27, BUCCANEERS 13
Week 15: Atlanta Falcons @ N.Y. Jets
Will the Falcons be as good, if not better, than the 2008 version? No one should be shocked when it comes to Matt Ryan and company; the team enjoyed much success last year so that a step backwards ought not surprise this year.
Caveat: The Jets have not beaten the Falcons in a regular season game since 1998.
PREDICTION: JETS 28, FALCONS 20
Week 16: N.Y. Jets @ Indianapolis Colts
The Jets better hope that the Colts have the AFC South wrapped up by this point in the season because seeing Peyton Manning in a must-win, warrior mode is not a pretty sight for opposing defenses.
The Colts need to prove that they can win without Tony Dungy as head coach, but as long as they have Manning, Reggie Wayne, and Joesph Addai, the Colts will always be in the playoff mix. Merry Christmas, Jet fans!
PREDICTION: COLTS 31, JETS 17
Week 17: Cincinnati Bengals @ N.Y. Jets
Wow! What a way to close out GIANTS STADIUM! The bumbling Bengals against the heretofore hapless Jets! Did someone forget that GIANTS STADIUM should close down with, maybe, maybe, the Giants versus Cowboys?!?!?!?
Unless the Bengals or the Jets are playing for the number six slot in the wild card, this could be a yawn of a game; in fact, the only fireworks will be the return of Laverneous Coles to the Meadowlands in a Bengals uniform.
The Bengals can score points, especially if Carson Palmer is healthy at quarterback, which is a concern for the Jets. But, the Jets can rest assured that they will put up some points, since the Bengals never stop anybody. And a very Happy New Year to you, too!
PREDICTION: JETS 29, BENGALS 17
Overall Record for 2009: 6-10
What do Jet fans have to look forward to this year? Well the development of Sanchez is one. Sanchez will clearly go through some growing pains this year, as he learns the in's and out's of being an NFL starting quarterback. Meanwhile, the progress of the Jets new 46 defense should improve as the year progresses.
By the time the season ends, fans should be giddy about the prospects of a better, more experienced team come 2010.
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