Game-by-game predictions for the Jets' entire 2020 schedule

Ralph Vacchiano
SNY

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As if the Jets don't have enough problems already, their 2020 schedule doesn't give them much of a break. Their opponents had a 136-119-1 record last season (a .533 winning percentage). They'll play seven games against playoff teams, including both teams that played in Super Bowl LIV.

Overall, they have the second-toughest schedule in the entire league.

Who knows if that will hold up as injuries happen and some teams unexpectedly struggle? The timing of the matchups could change the outlook too. But it looks tough, especially in their travel-filled December.

So for now, here's a look at every game on the Jets' difficult schedule, with a prediction of how they will do:

 

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13 at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.

If the Jets are going to make an early statement about 2020, this would be the ideal time. The Bills have been anointed by many to be the first AFC East favorites in the post-Tom Brady Era. They have one of the league's best defenses, too, which will be a big test for a healthy Sam Darnold. A win would set a huge tone for this race. 

Pick: Loss

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20 vs. San Francisco 49ers, 1 p.m.

Getting a team fresh off a Super Bowl loss this early in the season isn't helpful. The 49ers may struggle at some point, but not yet. They are still loaded with talent and they have a dangerous pass rush. The Jets' rebuilt line will be better, but they won't have a lot of time to gel before facing Nick Bosa and friends.

Pick: Loss

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27 at Indianapolis Colts, 4:05 p.m.

If you don't think Adam Gase and the Jets will be feeling the heat if they start 0-2, you haven't been paying attention to the Jets over the years. This game could become an early must-win. The good news is the Jets really are better, especially on offense. And there's no guarantee new Colts QB Philip Rivers is going to be thriving at age 38 while learning a new offensive scheme.

Pick: Win

Week 4: Thursday, Oct. 1 vs. Denver Broncos, 8:20 p.m.

A short week makes this game a little more interesting, but it still depends on how quickly Broncos quarterback Drew Lock comes along. The Broncos are loaded with weapons, especially after drafting Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. But this is another battle Darnold should be able to win, especially with little time to prepare and a game at home.

Pick: Win

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11 vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1 p.m.

Kyler Murray will be a handful for many NFL defenses, especially now that he has DeAndre Hopkins on his team. But this is where Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is at his best. He will find ways to disrupt Murray and give him looks he still hasn't seen before. And Darnold should be able to score at will against a Cards defense that isn't very good.

Pick: Win

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18 at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.

The first of three West Coast trips and the first of two games in Los Angeles, not far from where Sam Darnold grew up. This should be the best of the trips, too. The Chargers are in transition, with either Tyrod Taylor or rookie Justin Herbert at quarterback. Plus, they may be in a new stadium but they still don't have many fans.

Pick: Win.

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25 vs. Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.

Again, the Bills are the favorites to win the AFC East, and rightfully so after they went 10-6 last season and nearly won a playoff game. The Jets could be feeling pretty good about themselves right about now, getting through what might just be the easiest part of their schedule. That's usually right about when they're good for a crushing letdown.

Pick: Loss.

Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1 at Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m.

Yeah, sure, the Chiefs could have a Super Bowl hangover. Anything is possible. But Patrick Mahomes is still an MVP candidate and his team is still loaded with offensive weapons and more than enough on defense, too. Also, as the Jets are about to find out, Arrowhead Stadium is one of the loudest and toughest places to play in the NFL.

Pick: Loss.

Week 9: Monday, Nov. 9 vs. New England Patriots, 8:15 p.m.

Their first crack at the post-Brady Patriots comes in prime time. The Jets were crushed twice by New England last season by a combined score of 63-14, but it seems far-fetched to think a Jarrett Stidham-led team will do the same. Still, Bill Belichick, prime time against the Jets? Even without Brady, it's still hard to see this ending well.

Pick: Loss.

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15 at Miami Dolphins, 4:05 p.m.

The Dolphins loaded up in the offseason on a strong free-agent class and had a ton of draft picks to work with. So they should be better, and under Brian Flores they're definitely well-coached. But they're not likely to be a playoff contender, so this may be right about the time they make the switch to Tua Tagovailoa. Of course, that would make this Ryan Fitzpatrick's last stand.

Pick: Win.

Week 11: BYE

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29 vs. Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.

OK, assuming his hip is healthy, this would be the perfect time for Tagovailoa to start. And that would be good news for the Jets, because if it's Gregg Williams vs. a rookie quarterback, bet on the Jets' defensive coordinator every time.

Pick: Win.

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6 vs. Las Vegas Raiders, 1 p.m.

There was a time when the Raiders looked pretty good last season. Then they lost five of their last six and looked pretty awful doing that. One of those games was a 34-3 loss to the Jets in late November. The Raiders weren't much different then than they are now.

Pick: Win.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13 at Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m.

Here's the biggest problem for the Jets: If they are in the playoff chase, which they might be in a Tom Brady-less AFC East, they have a killer stretch in mid-December. Back-to-back West Coast trips isn't easy for anyone, and it'll be terrible starting it in Seattle, one of the most difficult places to play, and perennially one of the most dangerous teams in the league.

Pick: Loss.

Week 15: Saturday Dec. 19 OR Sunday, Dec. 20 at Los Angeles Rams, TBD

The Jets may stay out West and practice all week before this game. Unfortunately that may not help. That's an unwelcomed disruption of a schedule for a team that could be pretty tired by the time it gets to this game. Plus, the Rams are still loaded on offense, still dangerous on defense, and pretty motivated after their big Super Bowl hangover last year.

Pick: Loss.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26 vs. Cleveland Browns, TBD

Forget Odell Beckham. The highlight of this game is Baker Mayfield vs. Sam Darnold, the first and third picks of the 2018 NFL Draft. Both in their third year, we should have a great handle by now on which one is better, and which one is going to be better in the future. Spoiler alert: The answer to both is "Sam Darnold."

Pick: Win.

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3 at New England Patriots, 1 p.m.

Imagine this juicy scenario: The Jets being in the playoff chase, perhaps needing a win in their finale, and heading up to New England where so many of their dreams have died over the years. Now, don't rule out a Bill Belichick miracle, but it's hard to imagine this game will matter much for the Patriots in their first year after Brady's departure. That puts the Jets in position to be the ones who drive the stake into the hearts of their greatest nemeses, perhaps once and for all.

Pick: Win.

Overall record: 9-7

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