New York Jets: 2010 Game-By-Game Predictions
After a fine first season under rookie head coach Rex Ryan and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez that culminated with the Jets falling just short of a Super Bowl appearance, it's safe to say that the Jets won't be sneaking up on anybody in 2010.
The Jets will appear on HBO's Hard Knocks this summer and it'll give teams a sneak peek about what's to come this year.
In a lot of ways, the face of the franchise is not the young quarterback Sanchez or the elite shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis, but in fact the coach himself, Rex Ryan.
Ryan has sculpted the Jets in his own image: a team of rough, no-nonsense bunch of guys who play hard for 60 minutes and leave it all out on the field.
Off the field, they keep it calm and loose, emulating the demeanor of their charismatic leader.
Ryan's impact was felt on the field in a big way in his first year as the Jets finished first in total defense, passing defense, and rushing offense.
Yet the Jets aggressively made it a priority to upgrade those areas with the departures of Kerry Rhodes, Thomas Jones, and Alan Faneca, and the additions of Brodney Pool, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Vladimir Ducasse to provide depth with returners Eric Smith, Shonn Greene, and Matt Slauson.
Today I'll look at the 2010 Jets schedule on a game-by-game basis and try to predict how the season will go for the green-and-white in 2010, starting in Week 1 on Monday Night Football in a reunion game for Ryan against his former team.
Week 1: Sept. 13, Ravens at Jets
What a way to kick off the 2010 season. Monday Night Football. Opening night in New Meadowlands Stadium. Rex Ryan's first game as head coach against his former team.
Ryan actually interviewed for the Ravens job that eventually went to John Harbaugh, and was gracious enough to stay on as Harbaugh's defensive coordinator in 2008 before taking the Jets head coaching gig.
Both of these teams are greatly improved, practically mirror images of each other. Both have stifling defenses and good running games.
Both have young quarterbacks who have a few new weapons to play with in the receiving game, although Santonio Holmes will sit this one out.
Both have up-and-coming coaches who have all ready had early success in postseason play, and have Super Bowl aspirations on the mind.
With apologies to the four-time MVP in Indianapolis, it's not out of the question to think that this Week 1 match-up between upstart powerhouses could be a potential preview for an AFC Championship Game rematch.
Had the Ravens found a way to beat the Colts last year, that's exactly what it would've been last year. But like as they say, if the Queen had balls, she'd be a King, so there's no point in putting too much stock in "what ifs."
This has the chance to be a classic match-up for such an early season game, but I'm going to give the tiebreak to the home team in the new stadium.
Jets 20, Ravens 13
Week 2: Sept. 19, Patriots at Jets
Last year, these two teams met at the Meadowlands in Week 2 as well, in a game that longest-tenured Jet Shaun Ellis called "our Super Bowl."
Rex Ryan enlisted the help of all the season ticket holders and sent out voicemails asking all Jets fans to come out to the stadium and be the 12th man, and it worked.
The loud crowds disrupted the Patriots offense and helped the Jets to a huge upset victory.
This year, it won't be an upset if the Jets were to win again at home. The AFC East is going to be one of the toughest divisions in football, and the teams cannot afford to drop a home game against any of their rivals.
So to that, I say the Jets win at home against the aging Patriots and move to 2-0 on the season.
Jets 27, Patriots 9
Week 3: Sept. 26, Jets at Dolphins
The Jets, Dolphins, and Patriots are in for a photo finish for the division crown this year, and it's possible that all three teams could be playoff bound.
Last year, the Dolphins swept the Jets, but it didn't stop the Fish from choking away a 7-6 record into a 7-9 phinish (ha, puns...) that left them on the outside looking in. Meanwhile, the Jets did the opposite, going from 4-6 to an 11-8 finish, winning seven of eight to reach the AFC Title Game.
At the risk of being a homer and accidentally predicting an undefeated season out of pure optimism, I'll give the much-improved Fish (er... Marine Mammals?) the benefit of the doubt at home in Miami.
Make no mistake, Miami has a fantastic squad this year and could end up winning the division. Do I think they will, personally? No. But they will get the best of Gang Green in September.
Dolphins 17, Jets 14
Week 4: Oct. 3, Jets at Bills
I hope to attend this game, as I'm a graduate of the University at Buffalo (Go Bulls!), and I'll be in Buffalo this October.
I expect to see something resembling a scrimmage, I'm sorry to say, as the Bills best chance at winning this game will be forcing six interceptions like they did last year, and quite frankly, that won't happen again in 2010.
The Bills may be destined for another top-10 draft pick, at some point they'll probably find themselves a quarterback and/or a rushing defense.
They defend the pass well and run the ball pretty well, but they need lots of help before they'll get out of the AFC East basement.
Jets 31, Bills 6.
Week 5: Oct. 11, Vikings at Jets
This game will be the second of the Jets' three Monday Night Football games, and should be another fantastic contest between the Jets and a purple-clad road team.
Of course, one of the central storylines of this game hinges on whether or not Number Four returns for another go-around in Minnesota.
It's easy to forget that Favre's 2008 season with the Jets ever happened. Quite frankly, for all parties, it might be best to pretend it never did.
Favre used the Jets to get out of Green Bay and eventually become a Viking, and the Jets used him as a band-aid on offense in a 9-7 season.
Favre's 1-4 finish with the Jets in '08 caused the firing of Eric Mangini and the eventual hiring of Rex Ryan, so hat tip to the prima donna for that one.
Does anyone really expect Tarvaris Jackson to be quarterbacking Minnesota in this game? Would Favre have ankle surgery to NOT come back for another season?
At any rate, both of these teams fell just short of a Super Bowl appearance last year in their respective conference title games.
Although the story will likely be about Favre's first game against one of his former teams, the real story will be about how well the two teams can expose each other's weaknesses.
It'll be close, but if the Vikings want to prove themselves as true contenders, they'll find a way to squeak one out.
Vikings 24, Jets 21
Week 6: October 17, Jets at Broncos
The Broncos had a strange season last year under rookie head coach Josh McDaniels. A 6-0 start shocked the football world.
But then became a 2-8 finish led to an 8-8 season and left Denver scheduling tee times in January instead of playing in the postseason.
In year two, McDaniels drafted Tim Tebow and brought in Brady Quinn behind incumbent starter Kyle Orton at the QB spot.
It'll be interesting to see the evolution of Josh McDaniels's offense with Tebow in a yet-to-defined role.
We all know how dynamic a player Tebow can be, and with the creativity of a coach who coordinated one of the most explosive offenses in NFL history, (the 2007 Patriots), it should to be fun to watch how Tebow is utilized.
In the end, the Jets defense should be able to counter anything McDaniels throws at it, and hopefully the offense will put up some points on an inconsistent Denver defense.
Jets 27, Broncos 13
Week 8: October 31, Packers at Jets
The Jets will come off the Week 7 bye with a Halloween date with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at New Meadowlands Stadium, which will match two of the better defenses from last season against each other.
The Packers defense, of course, was obliterated in their playoff loss to Arizona, in a shootout between Rodgers and Kurt Warner that resembled an Arena League football game rather than an NFL playoff contest.
I think Rodgers is a phenomenal player, one of the best five or six quarterbacks in football. You can see how the Packers don't miss Brett Favre when you look at the staggering numbers Rodgers has put up since becoming a starter two seasons ago.
In 2008, with Favre in New York, Rodgers threw for 4,038 yards and 28 TD with 13 interceptions and a 93.8 quarterback rating.
Last year, Rodgers went even bigger. 4,434 yards, 30 touchdowns with only seven interceptions, good for a 103.2 rating. He was tied for fourth in the NFL with 8.2 yards per attempt.
I think Green Bay has the potential to win the NFC North this season and even represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. I think highly enough of them to give them this game as well.
Packers 28, Jets 20.
Week 9: November 7, Jets at Lions
The Lions are going in the right direction under head coach Jim Schwartz, who has added good young talent to the roster in his brief tenure in Detroit.
In addition to Calvin Johnson, the terrific wide receiver, Detroit will feature second-year QB Matthew Stafford, rookie RB Jahvid Best, and one of my favorite college players in recent memory, rookie DT Ndamukong Suh.
After an 0-16 season two years ago, the Lions won two games last year under Schwartz, and although that doesn't seem like much, they made tremendous strides.
They won't be a playoff team this year, but they should be better than a 2-14 record. I think it's safe to chalk them up for a loss in Week 9 now.
Jets 38, Lions 13.
Week 10: November 14, Jets at Browns
The Jets head to Cleveland in Week 10 for a reunion with former head coach Eric Mangini, in a game that will also mark the return of Braylon Edwards in his first game in Cleveland since being traded to New York last season.
The Browns won their final four games of the season last year to rally for a 5-11 finish that likely saved Mangini's job under new team president Mike Holmgren.
In 2010, the new-look Browns brought in Jake Delhomme and Colt McCoy at quarterback. The addition of Holmgren favorite Seneca Wallace could combine with Josh Cribbs to form a potent Wildcat flair.
In a tough division with the Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals, it might be challenging for the Browns to get themselves out of the AFC North cellar.
Even in Cleveland with the Dawg Pound cheering them on, Edwards will get his revenge against his former team.
Jets 24, Browns 6.
Week 11: November 21, Texans at Jets
A rematch between two very good young teams that met in last season's opener, this should be a pretty good game that matches up the explosive passing offense of Matt Schaub and company with the stifling pass defense of the Jets.
Schaub led the NFL in passing yards last year and has become an upper-echelon quarterback in his time with the Texans, but the Jets got the best of them last season in Houston when the Jets steamrolled them in Mark Sanchez's pro debut.
Sanchez threw for 271 yards and one touchdown in a 24-7 victory, an interception returned for a touchdown accounting for the only score for Houston.
Not only did the running game and defense dominate, (190 yards rushing for the Jets, compared to 183 total offensive yards for Houston), but Darrelle Revis began his historical season by holding arguably the best wide receiver in football, Andre Johnson, to only four catches for 35 yards.
Also.... THIS happened:
Talk about a perfect debut for Rex Ryan.
This year, the Texans will attempt to get over that hump and make their first ever playoff appearance in franchise history with a good young nucleus and returning stars.
They may be a very good team this year, but I don't they think they'll be able to stop the Jets from having their way with them again.
Jets 27, Texans 20
Week 12: November 25, Bengals at Jets
The Jets play their second game in a five day span in Week 12 for a Thanksgiving night showdown on the NFL Network against the Cincinnati Bengals.
We all know about the recent history of these two teams. The Jets, needing a win against the Bengals to clinch a playoff spot in Week 17 of last season, blew out Cincinnati 37-0 in the final game at the old stadium, just one week after the Giants pooped the bed in their last game there.
After sending out the stadium in style, the Jets clinched a rematch in the first round of the playoffs, this time at Cincinnati, in a game in which Mark Sanchez had perhaps his finest game of his young NFL career, going 12 of 15 for 182 yards for a passer rating of 139.4 as he out-dueled his boyhood idol and fellow USC alum Carson Palmer.
In this Week 12 match-up on short rest for the Jets, they may be vulnerable against what figures to be a pretty good Bengals squad.
Nevertheless, under the bright lights of primetime at New Meadowlands Stadium, I'll take the Jets to win a close one.
Jets 20, Bengals 17.
Week 13: December 6, Jets at Patriots
It's a Monday Night Football showdown once again for the Jets as they head to New England for their road game against the Pats.
The top three teams in the AFC East are three of the best teams in the NFL, and there isn't much separation between the future division champions, the second place finisher, and the third place team that may contend for a six-seed in the playoffs themselves.
None of the three can afford to lose a home game within the division, and I don't think the Pats will concede another loss to the Jets after losing to them in Week 2.
Patriots 17, Jets 14.
Week 14: December 12, Dolphins at Jets
Like in Weeks 2 and 3, the Jets will face the Patriots and Dolphins back-to-back, one on the road and one at home.
Coming home against Miami could be the difference in the game, as these bitter rivals are near mirror images of each other with their strong offensive lines, talented young quarterbacks, new weapons on offense, and strong defenses led by young standout defensive backs.
The tiebreaker in this game will be the home crowd that should give the Jets the edge.
Jets 24, Dolphins 21.
Week 15: December 19, Jets at Steelers
The Steelers would like to think of themselves as contenders in a touch AFC North, a division that saw the Bengals and Ravens get postseason berths last year, as the Steelers were on the outside looking in.
With the improvements the Ravens have made, it could be a dogfight between the runner-up teams from the AFC East and North to fight for a combined two playoff spots.
It's very possible the AFC could feature nine or 10 legitimate playoff contenders, and with only six spots available there's going to be some nine or even 10-win teams that fall short of the elusive January tournament.
I think the Jets have become a more physical team than the Steelers ever since Rex Ryan instilled that mentality on them. The Steelers will have Ben Roethlisberger back, but they've all ready lost their starting left tackle for the season due to injury and they aren't getting any younger at their key positions.
I think the Jets will be a better team than Pittsburgh like they were last year, and they'll come away with a big road win down the stretch.
Jets 27, Steelers 17.
Week 16: December 26, Jets at Bears
Daaaaa Bears. I can't remember the last time the Jets faced the Bears. Likely because the Jets play them once every four years. The way the NFL schedule works, teams will play an entire division of the other conference each year, meaning this year the AFC East plays the NFC North, and won't again until four years from now.
At any rate, Chicago had a pretty disappointing 2009 after acquiring quarterback Jay Cutler from Denver, and seeing a huge sophomore slump from 2008 rookie sensation running back Matt Forte.
Mike Martz was brought in as offensive coordinator to try to get more production from Cutler and company, while linebacker Brian Urlacher returns this year after missing almost all of 2009 due to injury.
If the Bears don't contend in that tough division alongside Green Bay and Minnesota, it could be the last hurrah for Lovie Smith and his coaching staff, amazingly enough. Smith took them to the Super Bowl in January of 2007, and everything has gone downhill since.
I don't think the Bears match up very well with the Jets, and I expect the Jets to soundly win this game as they gear up for the postseason.
Jets 24, Bears 13.
Week 17: January 2, Bills at Jets
The Bills will likely have nothing to play for in Week 17, and the Jets will hopefully be locking up a playoff spot around this time.
I'm predicting another easy Jets win at home, which would put them at 12-4 for the season and should be enough to win the AFC East or a wild card spot.
A new rule change in the NFL will match up divisional foes in Week 17, in at attempt to get more competitive games in the final week after previous years haven't had that.
Last year, for example, the Bills "beat" the Colts after the Junior Varsity Colts came in after Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne caught their 100th receptions early in the game.
Whether or not it'll lead to more competitive games remains to be seen, but the Jets certainly lucked out that they get Buffalo in Week 17 instead of one of the other AFC East contenders.
The Jets will roll into the playoffs on a winning streak, just like last year.
Jets 28, Bills 13.
Season Preview, in Review
Rex Ryan and company have the weight of the world on their shoulders after a breakout 2009 season. Year two is going to be a whole lot of fun, all the way from training camp to the postseason.
I have my Jets going 12-4, with losses to Green Bay, Miami, New England, and Minnesota.
But this Jets teams breeds confidence. These are not the "same old Jets" anymore. This is the Rex Ryan version, the "take a swipe at one of our guys, and we'll take two swipes at one of yours" no-nonsense Jets team that will smack you in the mouth and won't let you forget about it.
The season can't start soon enough.