NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund has done the math and released her toughest four-game stretch for every AFC East franchise, and her choice for the Jets shows just how favorable the schedule might be this season.
Based on 2020 records, the Jets are tied for 19th in terms of 2021 strength of schedule at a .489 win percentage, but if you look at their schedule they face several teams that could be regressing.
Some examples of this are the Atlanta Falcons without Julio Jones, the New Orleans Saints without Drew Brees, the Philadelphia Eagles in cap trouble, and the Houston Texans who could be without Deshaun Watson.
That doesn’t even include games against sub-500 franchises last season, like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots.
A few of these teams have improved, no doubt, but so have the Jets.
That makes up 10 out of the Jets’ 17 opponents in 2021 — don’t forget the extra game this season. It’s no surprise that only one of the teams listed above made the cut for Frelund’s projected four-game rough stretch.
Jets’ Toughest 4-Game Streak in 2021
According to Frelund, the Jets’ biggest challenge comes at the tail-end of the season, from Week 15-18.
- Week 15: Road game against the Miami Dolphins.
- Week 16: Home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- Week 17: Home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- Week 18: Road game against the Buffalo Bills.
The Jets currently have a win probability of 46.0% in Miami, 49.5% hosting the Jaguars, 38.9% hosting the Buccaneers, and 38.8% in Buffalo.
On paper, this four-game period looks pretty formidable, but when you look closer there are actually a few silver linings here for Gang Green.
Zach Wilson’s Development
As Frelund mentions in her video, Wilson will have plenty of time to get acclimated to the NFL by the time the Jets reach Week 15. This franchise will also have a ton of time to gel at this point in the year. With new playbooks, coaches, free agents and rookies possibly starting at multiple positions, the added repetition will be huge for their progression as a unit.
Jacksonville Favorites at MetLife?
I get that Trevor Lawrence was the number one pick in the draft and Wilson the number two, but do the Jaguars really have a better roster than the Jets? Just the other day, Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus tweeted that Wilson has the better supporting cast of the two. It’s also arguable that New York has the stronger defense. Both teams have made additions in the draft, but the Jets ranked 26th in points allowed in 2020 and they now have one of the top defensive minds in the league coaching their team in Robert Saleh. They also brought in multiple big-name signings on that side of the ball like Carl Lawson and Sheldon Rankins, not to mention C.J. Mosley is back. The Jaguars ranked 31st in the NFL in the same statistic last season and their biggest free-agent addition on the defensive side was cornerback Shaquill Griffin. Based on all this information, it’s hard to figure how Jacksonville is favorited on the road in December.
Top Competition Could Be Resting Starters
At this point in the year, you can’t predict this sort of factor, but it is a possibility that Tampa Bay and Buffalo could be in situations where they rest some starters. Tom Brady will be 44 years old this season and the Bucs are heavy favorites to win the NFC South. It’s definitely less likely that Tampa Bay sits their starters two weeks before a possible playoff game, but at the very least their intensity level could be down in a road game where they may not have a ton to play for. Not buying that? Okay fair enough, but the Bills scenario is much more likely. Head coach Sean McDermott actually pulled his starters against the Jets in Week 17 of 2019 after Josh Allen threw just five passing attempts. New York ended up winning the game 13-6.
The Jets have a lot to look forward to in 2021. They have a new franchise quarterback, a new head coach with an impressive track record, many fresh faces on the roster and sidelines, and a fourth-place schedule that looks favorable on paper.
Toughest Stretches for AFC East Rivals
In case you were wondering, Frelund also runs through the toughest four-game spans for the Jets AFC East rivals. You can find them below with the win probability for each game in parenthesis.
- Week 11: Home game against the Indianapolis Colts (52.7%).
- Week 12: Road game against the New Orleans Saints (51.8%).
- Week 13: Home game against the New England Patriots (50.6%).
- Week 14: Road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (46.6%).
- Week 5: Road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (43.8%).
- Week 6: Road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars (53.3%).
- Week 7: Home game against the Atlanta Falcons (53.1%).
- Week 8: Road game against the Buffalo Bills (44.7%).
New England Patriots
- Week 10: Home game against the Cleveland Browns (48.7%).
- Week 11: Road game against the Atlanta Falcons (52.5%).
- Week 12: Home game against the Tennessee Titans (46.0%).
- Week 13: Road game against the Buffalo Bills (49.4%).