Every season comes with a new set of challenges and struggles, and the 2011 campaign is no different for the New York Jets. They are coming off a loss to Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship games and have high hopes for this season.
Like most other teams in the NFL, the Jets come in with a lot of confidence and are ready to make a run at a division title. This will be no easy task as they play in one of the tougher divisions in football and have a lot of question marks that will need to be answered.
What will be the biggest factors preventing the Jets from sitting atop the AFC East? Let's take a look and find out.
The Jets had a lot of problems getting pressure from the defensive front last year and it is still a major concern going into this season.
New York did almost a complete overhaul on their line. They need to replace big name players including Kris Jenkins, Shaun Ellis and Jason Taylor.
With an emphasis on the defense early in the year's draft, the Jets will go towards a youth movement, including picks Muhammad Wilkerson and Kendrick Ellis having to play a big role from Week 1.
The real dark horse in the defensive front is former Buffalo Bill Aaron Maybin. A player who has been an under achiever since he first came into the NFL, he will look to resurrect his career with the Jets. If he can fulfill some of his potential and the draft picks pan out, this could be a big step forward for the defense.
Although I like the way the Jets' schedule shaped up this year, they will need to be sharp Week 1 to avoid getting into a tough hole. In the first five weeks of the season, there are three games that the Jets could potentially have trouble with.
The first game is the opener against the Cowboys. No one really knows what to expect from them, and if they come out firing they could catch the Jets off guard and keep them out of the win column for Week 1.
The next scare is Week 4 at the Ravens. The Jets have to travel to Baltimore, which is always a tough place to play, and face one of the better defenses in the league before the offense may get into a complete rhythm.
The last problem will be the biggest of them all when New York travels to Foxborough Week 5. It is always tough to win a road game within your division, but when you are playing the Patriots it is nearly impossible. If the Jets can come out and salvage two of these three games, I think they will be very happy going into Week 6.
Throughout the last few years, New York always seems to have big time players injured. Whether it is Kris Jenkins or Jim Leonhard, the Jets have to find a way to keep their current players on the field and performing at a high level.
Injuries have already been a little bit of a concern in the preseason with Plaxico Burress' ankle and backup center Rob Turner's leg, so hopefully they are working all of their problems out now and will be healthy when the games matter.
Although the Jets have caused a lot of problems and have been very competitive with the Pats, beating them is one of their biggest hurdles year in and year out.
New England has one of the marquee teams in the NFL, and the Jets will always have to contend with them for the AFC East title. If they want to sit atop the division at year's end, they will have to go through the Patriots to do it.
With the Pats new big name additions, they have the potential for another big year. With Tom Brady at the helm, Bill Belichick on the sidelines, and the ability to make third-string players into overnight superstars (see Woodhead, Danny), the Patriots cannot be taken lightly in 2011.
When push comes to shove, the Jets have a great team. They have depth and pop at seemingly every position and bolstered their lineup by resigning the two-headed demon of Revis Island and Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes and many other key players.
They also did their best to better the wide receiver position where they lost a lot of talent in the offseason. Braylon "love to drop the ball" Edwards will be replaced by a much bigger and much more reliable Plaxico Burress, and Derrick Mason will be a key outlet for the still evolving Mark Sanchez.
If the Jets are able to put their head down and work hard while staying out of their own way, it should be a great season. They have all the tools to make a run at the division title, and if they lead with their play and do not let in outside distractions, I see the Jets coming out on top of the AFC East.