After three straight winning seasons, and two straight trips to the playoffs, the Jets missed out on the postseason party with an 8-8 record. Their fate was sealed when they closed out the season with three straight losses.
They will be hungry to improve on that mediocre outing. Their schedule will not make this task difficult for them. The combined 2011 winning percentage of the Jets opponents is 49.2. That ranks their schedule as the 23rd toughest in the league.
The Jets still have a solid nucleus on defense. They were just far too streaky and mistake-prone last season. If they can clean up their act and add some athleticism in the draft, they will have enough success with the following schedule to make the playoffs.
Week 3 9/23: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 4 9/30: San Francisco 49ers at New York Jets 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox
Week 5 10/8: Houston Texans at New York Jets 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Week 6 10/14: Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 7 10/21: New York Jets at New England Patriots 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 8 10/28: Miami Dolphins at New York Jets 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 9: BYE
Week 10 11/11: New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 11 11/18: New York Jets at St. Louis Rams 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 12 11/22: New England Patriots at New York Jets 8:20 p.m., NBC
Week 13 12/2: Arizona Cardinals at New York Jets 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox
Week 14 12/9: New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 15 12/17: New York Jets at Tennessee Titans 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Week 16 12/23: San Diego Chargers at New York Jets 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC
Week 17 12/30: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills 1:00 p.m. ET CBS
The Jets' strength of schedule is a bit deceiving because the AFC East has the look of a division that will be improved next year. The Patriots are showing no signs of slowing down, the Bills made a big splash in free agency with Mario Williams, and the Dolphins finished last year strong.
The division games are going to be tough match-ups. Yet they are offset by a nice break, as the Jets are subsequently matched up against the weak AFC South. The Colts and Jaguars are firmly locked in a rebuilding process. Tennessee will certainly be beatable, and the one real bully in the South is the Texans.
New York also draws the complete NFC West on their schedule. This is not as appealing a prospect as it was a year ago. The 49ers are loaded and the Seahawks and Cardinals both finished last season playing fantastic football.
Still, if the Jets want to be anything near the quality of team they and their fans are hoping for, they should be able handle the NFC West.
Most Pivotal Matchup
Week 12: New England Patriots
If the Jets want to be the bullies of the AFC East, they have to take down the division's current tormentors, the New England Patriots. And they absolutely must do that when they play them in New York.