2011 NFL Schedule: Cowboys, Giants and Patriots Highlight Jets' 2011 Slate
As the hours ticked closer and closer to 7 p.m. on Tuesday when the NFL schedules were to be announced, a large rumor had spread that the New York Giants and New York Jets would play one another on opening day, as a tribute to 9/11, which is now in its 10th anniversary, and would have been featured in prime time in front of a national audience.
I had my doubts that Giants vs. Jets would appeal to anybody outside the New York/New Jersey market, even if it was 9/11; just take a look at the horrible national rating Mets vs. Yankees got in the World Series in 2000, or their bad ratings on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball every year as an example. New York vs. New York just doesn't appeal to people, let's say in Boston, or Texas, or Los Angeles.
However, an opening day game between the Giants and Jets would have been the ultimate party for football fans in New York, especially after a long and tense lockout.
In some respects, the NFL dropped the ball here, but they still made up for it providing the Jets with an incredible season opener, while giving the Giants an all too familiar foe to face on 9/11.
The Jets will open up the season at home against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.
Jets vs. Cowboys is certainly a more appealing matchup for a national audience that pits America's Team against Rex Ryan's vision of America's "New" Team. The Cowboys and Jets rarely play each other, the last time coming in 2007 when the Cowboys smacked around a dreadful Jets team on Thanksgiving.
Will the NFLPA and owners agree in time to play the 2011 season?
This time the matchup will be different.
You have the subplot of Rex Ryan beginning his journey at guaranteeing the Jets will be America's Team by season's end. The subplot about whether the Jets can return to the AFC title game for an astounding third straight year, the subplot of Tony Romo's comeback, as well as Jason Garrett's first full season as Dallas head coach.
The expectations for both the Jets and Cowboys will be high coming into the 2011 season. Many will predict that the Jets will break through the AFC title game and get to that coveted Super Bowl, while Jerry Jones will demand excellence and a return to glory for his 'Boys after a dreadfully disappointing 2010.
Jets vs. Cowboys is can't-miss TV.
The Giants, on the other hand, will visit the Redskins.
Now I know that the symbolism to 9/11 is obvious, since both New York and Washington D.C. were attacked that day, but how many times do we have to see the Giants and Redskins play on Opening Day? This will be the third time in four seasons that Big Blue and Washington will square off in the opener.
Can't the NFL get a little more creative for Big Blue?
After the opener, the Jets' schedule takes a lot of twists and turns.
It appears that the NFL must hate the Jets, since they are giving them a grueling three-game road trip in early October that takes them from Oakland to Baltimore and concluding in New England. Ouch. Talk about murderers' row.
The Oakland/Alameda Coliseum has been a house of horrors for the Jets in years past. Terrible playoff losses, as well as gut wrenching regular season disasters have been the norm whenever the Jets visit the Black Hole.
Although the last time the Jets were in Oakland in 2009, they did shutout the Raiders 37-0, but the game was best remembered for Mark Sanchez chowing down on a hot dog in the fourth quarter, leading to heavy scrutiny from the New York media on the then-rookie quarterback. I hope the hot dog vendors stay away from the Sanchise this time around.
The Baltimore Ravens game has been bothering the Jets since last September. A 10-9 lose to the Ravens in the opener last fall was a game that the Jets let get away thanks in large part to Brian Schottenheimer's ultra conservative play-calling.
The Jets have never won a regular season game in Baltimore against the Ravens, and are 1-6 against the Ravens all-time. With the game in prime time, a healthy Ravens defense with Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and company will be chomping at the bit to take down their old defensive coordinator for the second straight season.
Speaking about chomping at the bit, the Jets visit New England on Oct. 9, in a rematch of their divisional playoff matchup.
Ummm. Okay, Bart, last time anyone checked, Tom Brady is the one with three Super Bowl rings; three more than the Jets. The Jets have to make a statement and beat the Patriots twice in the regular season; by doing so they will find a way to win the AFC East title.
Sure, the victory over New England in last year's playoffs was the Jets personal Super Bowl, but if their dream is to get to a Super Bowl, they have to get through the Patriots in the regular season, and snatch away home field from them.
After New England, the Jets get a pair of home contests, Monday night against the Dolphins and a Sunday afternoon against the Chargers. From a TV perspective, the NFL dropped the ball a bit by allowing Jets vs. Dolphins to make prime time instead of Jets vs. Chargers.
Yes, Dolphins vs. Jets games are always crazy high-scoring affairs, but the Dolphins are not a great team right now. They are trying to reestablish their identity after the Wildcat crashed and burned last year, and Chad Henne went from promising future star for the Fish, to...well...a fried Fish.
The Chargers game is very intriguing. This will be the first time that LaDainian Tomlinson will get a crack at the team that gave up on him after a lackluster 2009 season. Granted Tomlinson did slow down a bit down the stretch last season for the Jets, he was the Jets' best weapon on the ground in the first two months of 2010.
The Charger game will also be the first meeting between the two squads since the Jets upset of San Diego in the 2009 playoffs. Think Phillip Rivers would love to get even some how? The last time Rivers and the Bolts played a game in New Jersey, they came back to beat the Giants in the final seconds of a game in Week 9 of the 2009 season.
November is highlighted by a tricky two-week stretch with the Jets hosting New England on Sunday night, before traveling to Denver to play the Broncos three days later on Thursday Night Football.
Personally, I would have liked to have seen the second meeting with the Patriots scheduled for late December when a divisional title could have been on the line, but anytime these two teams clash it's a much watch.
The big concern here for New York is the emotional let down they could get after this game, win or lose. Traveling to Denver on short rest after expending so much energy into the Patriots game could leave them flat in the thin air of Denver Colorado.
Even though it comes after the big game, the Denver game has trap game written all over it.
After a three-week stretch against the Bills, Chiefs and Redskins, a stretch that will be very important for Gang Green to get fat on victories against some rather mediocre football teams, December features a difficult finale to the 2011 season.
First the Jets will face the Eagles in Philadelphia on Dec. 18. Right now that game looks like a flex game for NBC. Michael Vick is healthy, and the talk of that contest will be how Rex Ryan's defense can matchup against the talents of Vick.
Then again, keep in mind this game is at the end of the season. A lot can happen. For all we know, Vick could be injured by the time this game rolls around, and the Jets could be facing either Kevin Kolb or Mike Kafka in this one.
Vick could barely stand up straight at the end of last season, and unless the Eagles fix their offensive line big-time in the draft, Vick won't last the season.
Finally, on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, Jets and Giants fans get their beloved Christmas present—a game between the two home teams. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on FOX.
Even though it would have been great to see these two teams open the season against each other, it will be even more impressive if both teams need the victory to clinch a playoff spot or division title. The more that is on the line for a Giants vs. Jets game, the better the football game will be, and the more epic it becomes.
The Jets will conclude their regular season in South Florida on New Year's Day against the Dolphins. The Jets could be looking to lock up playoff seeding at this point in the year, if they haven't done so already.
Still it's a tricky game. If the Jets are in desperate need of a victory in Week 17, the Dolphins would love nothing better than to ruin the Jets playoff chances.
That's the Jets schedule, let's hope that the NFLPA and NFL owners can wake up, stop the posturing and give football fans the game they love back very soon.
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