With the 2011 NFL schedule released earlier today, fans are already marking their calendars for the must watch games of the season. Each team now has their roadmap to the playoffs; it's up to them to figure out how to get to the final destination.
The Jets are, for the third straight year, looking for the Super Bowl that coach Rex Ryan has promised to bring to New York. Can Gang Green finally return to Super Bowl Sunday for the first time since the Joe Namath days? Or will they fall victim to a schedule that prevents them from even reaching the postseason? Let's take a look at the road the Jets will travel in hopes of playing February football.
The Jets open the 2011 campaign by greeting America's Team at New Meadowlands Stadium.
The Cowboys finished 2010 with a 6-10 record, and will look to improve upon that under Jason Garrett's first full season as head coach. Another plus for the Boys is the return of Tony Romo, who hadn't played since suffering an injury in Week 7.
The Jets will have a interesting match-up for Week 1 to say the least. Gang Green will look to exploit any lingering effects Romo's broken clavicle might have. Needless to say, if Romo is still hurting, the Jets will make him pay.
The Cowboys defense was subpar last year, especially in the passing game. If Mark Sanchez wants to show us he is ready to be a NFL caliber quarterback, he should be able to find some holes in the Dallas secondary. Dallas finished 26th last year in opposing passing yards.
The Jets are 2-7 against the Cowboys in their nine previous match-ups.
Week Two pits the Jets up against the Jaguars for the second time in Mark Sanchez' career.
The first match-up (November 15th, 2009) was not one to write home about for Sanchez. He went 16-30 with one touchdown and two interceptions in a 24-22 losing effort.
This year, the Jets will look to avenge the loss as not only has Mark Sanchez improved, the Jags defense has faltered. Jacksonville ended 2010 with the 28th and 22nd best passing and rushing defenses, respectively. As is the case with the Cowboys, the Jets should be able to air it out for the second straight week . If passing starts to go awry, the running game of LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene should be able to get something started.
The real test in Week 2 will be the Jets front line versus Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jags rushing attack. Jacksonville was the 3rd best running team in 2010, averaging 149.7 yards per game on the ground.
The Jets are 2-6 all-time versus Jacksonville.
The Jets return to Oakland for the second time in three years, walking out of Oakland Coliseum in 2009 with a 38-0 victory.
The Raiders were 8-8 in 2010, with an impressive 6-0 record against their division. Helping them earn those victories was the 2nd best rushing game in the NFL, averaging 155.9 yards per game.
The Jets will again be faced with an early match-up against a strong running team. The front line will need to stop Darren McFadden and Michael Bush if they want to leave Oakland with a W.
Fortunately for Gang Green, Oakland's passing game leaves much to be desired, averaging 198.8 yards through the air last year each game. The Jets were the 6th best pass defense in 2010, so Raider QB Jason Campbell will have his work cut out for him.
Sanchez will be facing the 2nd best pass defense from 2010, so this game will likely be run heavy. Oakland was ranked 29th in rush defense last year.
The Jets have a 15-20-2 record all-time versus the Raiders.
Jets fans, mark your calenders; Week 4 is sure to be a good one.
The Ravens spoiled the Jets home opener last year, leaving New Jersey with a 10-9 win in a game that was a disappointing show by the Jets to say the least. This time around, the Jets head to Baltimore where they will look to settle the score.
The Ravens were an interesting team last year. They posted a 12-4 record while only having the 20th best passing team and 14th best running squad. A team known for their phenomenal defense, Baltimore's secondary was exposed last year, giving up 224.9 yards a game through the air. The Ravens posted the 5th best run defense in 2010, giving up 93.9 yards a game.
Mark Sanchez will need to step up for this one. The Jets will not be able to run rampant on the Baltimore D led by Ray Lewis. While the Jets wide receiver situation is currently up in the air, Sanchez will need to connect with whoever he has on the field. If the passing game is off, the Jets can't hope to stay in this contest.
The Jets have a 1-6 record all-time against Baltimore.
Week 5 will begin the next chapter in the growing Jets-Patriots rivalry.
The two squads met three times in 2010, with the Jets winning the season series 2-1. The Jets did however get demolished their last time in New England, losing 45-3. New York got the last laugh (sort of) by eliminating the Patriots from the playoffs, winning 28-21.
The Patriots were 14-2 in 2010, with Tom Brady and BenJarvus Green-Ellis leading the offensive attack. New England was 11th in passing and 9th in rushing yards per game last year.
The key to victory in this one again lies in Mark Sanchez' hands. The Patriots passing defense was 30th last year, giving up 258.5 yards per game. Looking at that 45-3 victory, it's hard to see a porous secondary, but it does exist. And with the Patriots boasting the 11th best rushing defense from 2010, passing must lead the way. If the Jets can establish a passing game early, they can keep New England guessing about run or pass.
The Jets defense needs to bring their A-game as well. One little mistake for Tom Brady is like leaving a vault wide open for a robber; trouble ensues. It will be interesting to see what role Jim Leonhard will play, as his absence in the second match-up last year was extremely noticeable.
The Jets return home after three weeks on the road to greet their AFC East rival Dolphins.
The two teams split the season series last year, with each squad winning on the others home turf.
The Jets hosted Miami on December 12th last year in what was a ugly 10-6 loss.
Gang Green looks to protect their house against a Dolphin squad in disarray. The team is relying on Chad Henne to bounce back from injury to lead an offense that garnered 220.4 yards per game, earning them the 16th ranked passing game. The running attack posted 102.7 yards per game, 21st best in the league. While not a game that the Jets can shrug off, it will certainly be a easier task containing the Dolphins offense than Baltimore's or New England's.
The Jets themselves will have an interesting challenge moving the ball, as the Phins had the 8th best passing and 7th best rushing defense in 2010. The Jets has success against the Dolphins in Miami last year, and will need to employ the same tactics for their first match-up of 2011.
LaDanian Tomlinson gets to meet his old squad.
The last time these two teams squared off, Tomlinson was wearing a blue jersey, and the Jets held him to 24 yards on the ground. The Jets won that contest 17-14.
Now LT is a part of the other team, looking to pick up a win against his former team, the San Diego Chargers.
If LT was hoping to run wild over the Bolts, he's going to have a challenge ahead of him. San Diego held opponents to 93.8 yards on the ground each game last year, the 4th best in the NFL. Passing won't be a viable solution either; the Chargers were the best passing defense in 2010, holding opposing squads to 177.8 yards through the air.
The season may not have started yet, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say this game will come down to the Jets D. Phillip Rivers led the Chargers to the 2nd best passing offense in the NFL, while Mike Tolbert and Ryan Matthews ran the team to the 15th best ground game. If the Jets can effectively shut down the ground game, Rivers will look to the air where the secondary will need to step it up.
The Jets are 11-19-1 against the Chargers.
The Jets are off Week 8. I have nothing else to say, so enjoy the picture of Darelle Revis playing basketball and let's move on.
The Jets come off their bye and head up north to meet the Bills.
The Jets won both match-ups last year, winning 38-14 during their trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium.
New York gets to breath easy coming off the bye as they walk into the worst running defense from 2010. Buffalo had the 3rd best passing defense last year, but the Jets should have no trouble running through the holes of the Bills front line.
On the other side of the ball, the Bills 197.4 and 107.5 passing and rushing yards per game, respectively. The Jets D should be able to stop the Bills more often than not, giving them a pretty relaxed match-up coming off the bye.
From easy AFC East match-up to...Hello New England.
The Jets return home to meet the Patriots in their second straight divisional game. The Jets won the game last year at New Jersey by a score of 28-14.
The strategy remains the same from the first analysis, so I've got nothing more to add.
The Jets are 51-49-1 all-time against the Patriots.
Gang Green returns to Denver for the second straight year.
New York defeated the Broncos in 2010 24-20 thanks to some last second magic.
The Broncos are coming off a 4-12 season in which they finished last in the AFC West.
A huge reason for that last place finish was the Bronco defense, which was 25th in passing and 31st in rushing. The Jets had some issues last year against Denver, but with the defense as weak as it is, they should find a way to put drives together.
The Bronco offense was 7th in passing, but 26th in rushing. If New York is firing on all cylinders, the trip to Denver should be a lot easier than last years.
New York has a 15-16-1 all-time record against the Broncos.
Three weeks after their first match-up, the Jets and Bills lock heads once again.
The teams bring the fight to New York, were the Jets won last year 38-7.
The analysis hasn't changed in three slides, so all I have left is the all-time record.
The Jets stand 47-53 against Buffalo.
In their second game against the NFC West, the Jets take a trip to Washington.
The Redskins were 6-10 last year, with and offense led by Donovan McNabb/Rex Grossman. That offense was good enough to post 244.6 yard per game, 8th best in the league. The running game, on the other hand, was almost non-existent, putting up 91.3 yards per contest. The Jets secondary will be tested when the front line shuts down the run.
Washington's defense was a reason for many of their losses last year, giving up 261.7 yards in the air and 127.6 yards on the ground every game. Sanchez will get a chance to throw the ball around, and turn to the ground game if that goes awry.
The Jets are 1-8 against Washington all-time.
The Jets meet the Chiefs for the first time since 2008.
In that contest, the Jets won 28-24, but that was when Brett Favre was taking snaps and Leon Washington and Thomas Jones was taking the hand-offs.
Kansas City had the 30th ranking passing game last year, which was countered with the best running attack in the NFL. The Jets will have their hands full stopping Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones while at the same time stopping Matt Cassel from connecting with Dwayne Bowe.
The Chiefs D is a modest one, that which was ranked 17th in passing and 14th in rushing. It will be interesting to see how the Jets go about on offense in this one.
New York is 16-16-1 against KC all-time.
The Eagles were 10-6 in 2010 with an offense that was strong through the air and on the ground. Vick led the team to 244.1 passing yards per game, while LeSean McCoy and Vick ran for 145.3 per. Both aspects of the Eagle's offense were in the top ten league wide.
On defense, the Eagles were 15th in both passing and rushing, giving up 216.8 and 110.4 yards respectively.
The Jets will need to keep Vick in the pocket while covering the Eagle wideouts as effectively as possible if they hope to leave Philly with a win. On offense, a steady mix of rush and pass should work fine, provided Sanchez is able to locate his targets.
The Eagles have defeated the Jets all eight times the two teams have met.
On Christmas Eve, the battle between the two Meadowlands tenants wages on.
The Jets will be labeled the opening team in the match-up against the Giants in a game that is sure to be a good one.
The Giants were 10th in passing, 6th in rushing last year. Putting up 242.8 yards through the air and running for another 137.5, the Giants earned a 10-6 record in 2010. As for defense, the Giants had the 9th best passing D and the 8th best ground D. They gave up only 209.5 yards through the air each game as well as 101.3 on the ground.
Could the Jets have a tougher challenge for the second to last game? At a time where Gang Green and New England will be fighting for the AFC East crown, the Jets will be in must-win mode at the end of the year if they hope to win the division. A match with their New York rivals certainly increases the difficulty of this task.
The Jets are 4-7 all-time against their New York counterparts.
In the final game of the 2011 regular season, the Jets head to Miami.
The Jets won 31-23 at Sun Life Stadium last year and will look for a similar result to close the 2011 season.
As with the other two AFC East rematches, I have nothing more to add after the all-time record.
The Jets hold the edge over the Phins with a record of 47-42-1
So the Jets now know what awaits them in their quest to return to the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. Will the Jets avenge their 2010 loss against the Ravens? Who will win the battle of New York between the Jets and Giants? Will the Pats or Gang Green walk away with the AFC East crown? This, and many more questions, will be answered in the 2011 season.