2014 New York Jets Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IApril 23, 2014

2014 New York Jets Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

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    Jets head coach Rex Ryan (left) and GM John Idzik enter their second year together.
    Jets head coach Rex Ryan (left) and GM John Idzik enter their second year together.USA TODAY Sports

    The New York Jets fell short of the playoffs in 2013. While they made a few key additions, it's fair to wonder whether they have truly put themselves in position to contend for a playoff spot. 

    Geno Smith (or potentially Michael Vick) will actually have at least one quality receiver to target with Eric Decker on the field, but besides Decker and Jeremy Kerley, there are still significant questions at wide receiver. 

    Other than Decker, most of the Jets' offseason moves were a wash. Signing Dimitri Patterson is a nice move in response to releasing Antonio Cromartie, and while the Jets could be better off for moving on from Cromartie, there are still significant questions for the Jets in the secondary. They also lost right tackle Austin Howard, but signed Breno Giacomini to replace him. 

    It's important that the Jets not only maintain the status quo, but improve upon last season in order to ensure that Rex Ryan remains the head coach. How will they do?

    Now that the NFL has released the schedule, let's take a peak at what lies ahead for the Jets.

Week 1: Vs. Raiders

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    Bill Kostroun

    Kickoff time and network: 1 p.m. ET, CBS

    The AFC East squares off with the AFC West in interdivision play this year. While the AFC West is not usually regarded as a "power division," the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers all made the playoffs last year. The only AFC West team that missed the playoffs, as expected, was the Oakland Raiders.

    The last time these two teams faced, the Jets were in control from the get-go. They scored the game's first 10 points and took a 20-3 lead into halftime. Geno Smith was efficient, but not deadly (16-of-25, 219 yards, TD, INT). He made better use of his legs against the Raiders than in previous weeks (five carries, 50 yards, TD), and the Jets had success running the ball as a whole (32 carries, 143 yards, 2 TDs). 

    They look like a brand new team, but it might be better classified as a brand old team, with the Raiders taking chances on a lot of aging players. They added two veteran edge defenders Justin Tuck, 31, and LaMarr Woodley, 29, and a new defensive tackle in Antonio Smith, 32. 

    The aging players were not just added on defense. Can Matt Schaub, 32, rebound after an awful 2013? Facing off against Rex Ryan, there's a good chance Schaub could be in for a tough day. Can Maurice Jones-Drew, 29, find the "mojo" that once made him one of the game's most versatile and dynamic threats out of the backfield? Running into the jaws of that Jets defensive line, it's easy to see MJD struggling through the day. 

    Prediction: Jets 20, Raiders 14

Week 2: At Packers

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Kickoff time and network: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

    Put an elite quarterback up against a brilliant defensive coach and the pieces are in place for a top-notch chess match. Only one other time as a starter has Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers squared off with a Rex Ryan-coached defense. That game ended with neither team scoring a touchdown as the Packers won 9-0 back in 2010. In that contest, Rodgers completed 44.1 percent of his passes, the lowest percentage of his career as a starter.

    The Jets got the Packers at a good time, too. The Packers have slowly lost weapons in the passing game, and although they still feature Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, it truly hasn't mattered. Rodgers is still one of the best quarterbacks at spreading the ball around to all of his receivers—six receivers had over 30 receptions in 2013, and five in 2012.

    The Packers' defense, however, has been one of the worst in the league two of the past three years, and ranked in the bottom 10 in both total defense and scoring defense last year. They gave up 27 points or more in eight of their final 10 games of the season. This could be a high-scoring affair, but in that case the team with the better quarterback will always have the advantage.

    Prediction: Packers 38, Jets 26

Week 3: Vs. Bears

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    Nam Y. Huh

    Kickoff time and network: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN (Monday Night Football)

    Between Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, the Jets are going to have their hands full covering the Bears' top receivers. Dee Milliner showed flashes of the ability to cover some elite receivers one-on-one at the end of the 2013 season, with Browns receiver Josh Gordon and Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace both being shut down in their showdowns with Milliner.

    Jay Cutler had the highest passer rating of any year in his career at 89.2, but he missed five games due to injury. As a result of his numbers—and Marc Trestman's preference for the passing game—the Bears' offense did not focus as heavily on running the ball in 2013, with just 404 rush attempts against 579 pass attempts, but they averaged a healthy 4.5 yards per carry, with Matt Forte leading the charge as usual. 

    The Bears' defense, however, is not what it's been in years past. They ranked 30th in total defense and scoring defense, with the most rushing yards allowed and the highest yards allowed per rush attempt. 

    If the Jets can find a way to slow down the aerial assault, they may find the Bears apprehensive to get back to the ground game, and the Jets' prerogative is to force opponents to play a one-dimensional game. 

    Prediction: Jets 28, Bears 27

Week 4: Vs. Lions

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Kickoff time and network: 1 p.m. ET, Fox

    When taking on the Detroit Lions, the game plan starts with wide receiver Calvin Johnson, also known as "Megatron," who set the record for receiving yards in a season with 1,964 in 2012 and has a league-leading 45 receiving touchdowns over the past four years. The Jets will have to come up with a plan to slow him down, but Johnson regularly beats double teams for big catches downfield.

    The Jets will also have to keep their attention on running back Reggie Bush in both the running and passing game. Bush ranked second on the team with 54 receptions, and finished with over 1,000 rushing yards for the second time in three years. The Lions offense finally has some balance with Bush in the backfield. 

    The saving grace for the Lions' defense has been their front line, anchored by Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. That duo might make it difficult for the Jets to run the ball, or offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg could make life difficult for the two defensive tackles by running draw plays right into the jaws of that defense. The Jets could have some success airing it out against a thin Lions secondary, but unless they can keep the Lions honest, they could have a hard time finding rhythm.

    Prediction: Lions 27, Jets 17

Week 5: At Chargers

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    Philip Rivers leads the charge for the Chargers' offense.
    Philip Rivers leads the charge for the Chargers' offense.Associated Press

    Kickoff time and network: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

    In 2010 and 2011, the matchups between the receivers and defensive backs were top-notch every time the Jets and Chargers faced off. The Chargers still have their share of pass-catching talent, with the young Keenan Allen and Vincent Brown along with veteran Eddie Royal. While the Jets secondary is without the likes of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, the duo of Dee Milliner and Dimitri Patterson could be a viable one-two punch.

    The Chargers, however, do not rely as much on the passing game as they did under Norv Turner. New head coach Mike McCoy is balancing things out in the offense, as Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead have been asked to carry a heavier load. That being said, with a talented quarterback like Philip Rivers leading the charge for the offense, McCoy may get back to airing it out a bit more to exploit the Jets' secondary.

    The Chargers' offense was their saving grace. Their defense was among the league's worst in 2013, allowing the 10th-most total yards to their opponents, the second-highest average in yards per pass attempt and the sixth-highest average in yards per rush attempt. If the Jets can capitalize, this could turn into a shootout.

    Prediction: Jets 30, Chargers 27

Week 6: Vs. Broncos

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    QB Peyton Manning was under fire early and often in his last trip to MetLife Stadium in Super Bowl XLVIII.
    QB Peyton Manning was under fire early and often in his last trip to MetLife Stadium in Super Bowl XLVIII.Associated Press

    Kickoff time and network: 1 p.m. ET, CBS

    If the Jets are going to be exposed for their lack of depth in the secondary, Peyton Manning and the Broncos are going to be the ones to do it. Manning lit the record books on fire last season, with records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55). The Jets' pass defense, on the other hand, was one of the worst in the league, and ranked in the bottom-third of the league in nearly every important category.

    However, the Jets have one thing working in their favor, as always: the defensive line. It will be up to the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Damon Harrison and Sheldon Richardson to play their best, much like the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII when Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett took over the game with constant pressure on Manning.

    Rex Ryan has riddled Peyton in the past, and while the Jets have some of the tools they will need to contain the Broncos, it seems unlikely they'll find a way to stop them completely.

    Prediction: Broncos 28, Jets 13

Week 7: At Patriots

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    Darrelle Revis will be in coverage for the Patriots against the Jets in 2014.
    Darrelle Revis will be in coverage for the Patriots against the Jets in 2014.Associated Press

    Kickoff time and network: 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS/NFL Network (Thursday Night Football)

    The Jets haven't won a regular season game at Gillette Stadium since 2008, but they have come close each of the past two years, losing by three points each time. 

    If the Jets are going to pull off the win this time, they'll have to get a better performance from their quarterback. The two quarterbacks—Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith—have combined for six turnovers in the past two games, and each game ended with the quarterback turning the ball over.

    The matchup between the Patriots passing attack and the Jets pass defense could decide the game. The Jets released cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who was declining and becoming more prone to injuries, this offseason. The Jets are still left with a barren depth chart at cornerback with second-year corner Dee Milliner as the headliner, injury-prone Dimitri Patterson as the No. 2 and maligned veteran Kyle Wilson in the slot.

    If the Patriots offensive line can keep that dominant Jets offensive line at bay, Tom Brady should be able to find the favorable matchups in the secondary—and there should be plenty of them.

    Prediction: Patriots 31, Jets 20

Week 8: Vs. Bills

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    Geno Smith (left) and EJ Manuel (right) are in the beginning stages of a potential careerlong rivalry.
    Geno Smith (left) and EJ Manuel (right) are in the beginning stages of a potential careerlong rivalry.Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

    Kickoff time and network: 1 p.m. ET, CBS

    If the Bills and the Jets both get their way, the yearly pair of battles between EJ Manuel and Geno Smith will be a careerlong occurrence. Manuel was the higher-rated passer in 2013, but he played only 10 games, missing six with knee injuries. He was in the lineup for both games against the Jets, though, and had one of his best performances as a rookie with 71.4 percent completions and a 121.9 passer rating against the Jets in the second meeting.

    Will that be the beginning of Manuel's dominance against the Jets, or just a blip on the radar? 

    For Geno Smith, the questions are a bit bigger. Last year, Smith had some success against the Bills' defense in the first meeting, with touchdown passes of 51 and 69 yards, and another 45-yard pass on top of those two.

    The Jets' offense may have just one prime-time weapon in Eric Decker, but although the Bills don't have a lot of top-flight talent at cornerback, they still have one of the best front fours in football (three defenders with 10 sacks or more in 2013). If that group is getting pressure, Smith could find it hard to get in rhythm. 

    Prediction: Bills 24, Jets 20

Week 9: At Chiefs

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    John Cordes

    Kickoff time and network: 1 p.m. ET, CBS

    The Kansas City Chiefs are going to have some major changes across the board this season, with plenty of free agents on both sides of the ball. There will be a seismic shift of sorts on the offensive line, with Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz all finding new homes this offseason. The Jets' defensive line will surely be salivating at the thought of feasting on an inexperienced group.

    Where the Jets could have some trouble is on offense. The Chiefs' defense gave up yards in bunches (24th in the league in total defense) but they did a great job of keeping teams out of the end zone (fifth in scoring). There are some folks who question whether the Chiefs defense was pounding on inferior competition, but the Jets' offense would currently qualify as such.

    The Chiefs' defensive success in 2013 may have been a flash in the pan, or a sign of things to come, but their success running the ball should come as no surprise. One might assume that the Jets' defensive line gives them an advantage against the Chiefs, as they can shut down the run and force Alex Smith to beat them on his own. However, the Jets' edge defense is not as good as their interior defense, and the Chiefs love to run the ball to the outsides. If the Chiefs can stay efficient with the running game and allow Alex Smith to manage the game, they should hold serve at home.

    Prediction: Chiefs 23, Jets 16

Week 10: Vs. Steelers

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    Ben Roethlisberger (7) has had the Jets' number in the recent past.
    Ben Roethlisberger (7) has had the Jets' number in the recent past.Associated Press

    Kickoff time and network: 1 p.m. ET, CBS

    The Jets and Steelers have played some pretty boring and ugly games in the past two years, with the Steelers winning by a combined score of 46-16. Ben Roethlisberger has been particularly dialed in against the Jets, and is 47-of-61 (77 percent) for 539 yards (8.8 YPA), three touchdowns and a 119 passer rating in his past two games against them.

    The Steelers made some additions to their roster with running back LeGarrette Blount, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and defensive tackle Cam Thomas, but they also lost several key players this offseason, as they have for several years now. This year's toll included wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery, linebacker LaMarr Woodley, safety Ryan Clark, running back Jonathan Dwyer and defensive end Evander Hood.

    If the Jets are going to win this year, they'll have to take advantage of a defense that continues to lose pieces. The Steelers ranked 21st in rushing yards allowed and yards allowed per rush attempt, so the Jets' balanced attack could prove beneficial, especially with safety Troy Polamalu relying more and more on his instincts as he gets older.

    This game could be more of a shootout than it seems just from the complexion of these two teams, but the results could be the same as years past. 

    Prediction: Steelers 29, Jets 24

Week 11: Bye

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    Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

    If my predictions are right (and they're probably not), the Jets will be 3-7 and on a five-game losing streak entering the bye week. Could we be talking about the Jets possibly moving on from their head coach? 

    Could they find a way to make a late-season rally with some easy opponents on the schedule? If so, they're going to have to find a way to beat a team or two that has already beaten them this season.

Week 12: At Bills

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    Gary Wiepert

    Kickoff time and network: 1 p.m. ET, CBS

    The Bills and Jets are both trying to build their teams into contenders, but both have been stuck in mediocrity for awhile. 

    Both the Jets and Bills like to run the ball, so it will be important for both teams to assert the running game as a viable threat to open things up for their young quarterbacks. It wouldn't be a surprise for the Bills to struggle running the ball against the Jets' dominant front four, but the Jets may also have a tough time running the ball against the combination of Buffalo's dominant defensive line and their revamped linebacker core that now includes linebackers Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers.

    With two young, inexperienced quarterbacks at the helm, whichever team puts their quarterback in the best position to succeed is the team that's most likely to come out with the win. The two teams split their season series in 2013, and the same could happen again in 2014.

    Prediction: Jets 30, Bills 23

Week 13: Vs. Dolphins

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    Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (17) is hoping to lead the Dolphins to the playoffs in his third year at the helm.
    Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (17) is hoping to lead the Dolphins to the playoffs in his third year at the helm.Al Bello/Getty Images

    Kickoff time and network: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN (Monday Night Football)

    It's been a bizarro rivalry between the Jets and Dolphins for the past two years. The two teams have split the season series each year, with the home team losing each game.

    Ryan Tannehill had a brilliant performance against them in the first meeting last year, completing 65 percent of his passes and earning a 94.2 passer rating. He can't afford another game throwing three interceptions, completing 50 percent of his throws and earning a 42.1 passer rating like he had in the final game of the season. 

    Fortunately for Tannehill, the Dolphins still have a bevy of pass-catching talent around him, and have gone to great lengths to ensure he is better protected than last season with a revamped offensive line. Oddly enough, however, Tannehill was sacked just one time in two games against the Jets, despite being sacked 57 times in the other 14 games of the season. If the Dolphins are able to afford Tannehill some time in the pocket, he should be able to find favorable matchups against a depth-deprived Jets secondary. 

    The X-factor, though, could be running back Knowshon Moreno. A pure running attack may not be effective against the Jets, but if the Dolphins can get him in favorable matchups in the passing game, they could have success with the running game as an extension of the passing game.

    Prediction: Dolphins 23, Jets 14

Week 14: At Vikings

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    Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (28) is tough to tackle.
    Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (28) is tough to tackle.Associated Press

    Kickoff time and network: 1 p.m. ET, CBS

    The Jets may be more ready to face the Minnesota Vikings than any other team they will face in 2013. With their stout defensive line, they could truly be capable of relying on their front seven to shut down the run instead of bringing an eighth defender into the box.

    With Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson on the outside, the Vikings have enough talented pass-catchers to take advantage of the Jets' lack of depth in the secondary. The question then becomes whether the likes of Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder can capitalize. Neither quarterback is going to take over a game, but each one has proven capable of managing the game. 

    The Vikings' secondary has never been considered elite, but their defense was once considered one of the toughest to run against. As the pieces have fallen off, though, they have lightened up against the run. The Jets' best bet is to keep it balanced against the Vikings, forcing their defensive line to stay at home and buying time for Geno Smith to find open receivers. 

    Prediction: Jets 16, Vikings 10

Week 15: At Titans

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    The Titans embarrassed the Jets in their last meeting, by a score of 38-13.
    The Titans embarrassed the Jets in their last meeting, by a score of 38-13.Associated Press

    Kickoff time and network: 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

    The Jets have not had much success in recent years against the Titans. It was a loss in Tennessee that essentially ended their hopes at a playoff spot in 2012, and a blowout loss to the Titans in 2013 that derailed some momentum after a 2-1 start. 

    This year is different, though, and the Titans are now coached by Ken Whisenhunt. While that is considered an upgrade over Mike Munchak, there are still significant questions on offense—like, for example, who will be the carrying the football for them after they released Chris Johnson. They also still have significant questions at quarterback, where Jake Locker has yet to take a step forward as "the guy" at the game's most important position.

    Additionally, the Titans lost their best defensive back in Alterraun Verner, which is good news for Geno Smith, who threw two interceptions to Verner the last time these two teams faced. The Titans may be one of only a few teams on the Jets' schedule that don't have enough defensive backs to match up with their receivers. 

    Prediction: Jets 27, Titans 16

Week 16: Vs. Patriots

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    Steven Senne

    Kickoff time and network: 1 p.m. ET, CBS

    Someone is going to have a tough job in keeping up with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Whether it's Geno Smith or Michael Vick, at least they will have a better top receiver than they had last season. 

    The Patriots, however, may have more cornerbacks than the Jets have weapons in the passing game. Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard performed admirably when covering Decker as a member of the Broncos. If he is up to the challenge in 2014, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner can be used to take away the likes of Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley.

    Thus, it may be up to Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell and the Jets' running game to keep the offense on schedule. The Jets piled up 177 rushing yards against the Patriots in their Week 7 victory—and a little-known fact about the Patriots' defense is that it struggled against the run even before losing Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly and Jerod Mayo to injury. They were yielding an average of 120.7 rushing yards per game and 4.1 yards per rush attempt through the first three games of the season. 

    In addition to that running attack, the Jets defense was able to make life difficult for Brady last year, holding him to 50 percent completions or lower in both games against him. Losing Antonio Cromartie could prove to be a tough blow, but Dimitri Patterson will be a capable No. 2 if healthy. The Jets were able to pull off a narrow upset at home in 2013 through those means, and they could do so again in 2014.

    Prediction: Jets 23, Patriots 21

Week 17: At Dolphins

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    Jets CB Dee Milliner (right) had a remarkable performance in Week 17 against Dolphins WR Mike Wallace (left).
    Jets CB Dee Milliner (right) had a remarkable performance in Week 17 against Dolphins WR Mike Wallace (left).Associated Press

    Kickoff time and network: 1 p.m. ET, CBS

    The Jets and Dolphins could very well be playing for No. 2 in the AFC East, so these games will have extreme importance. 

    If the Jets want to make sure they come out on top in this matchup, their best bet is for the front four to breathe down the neck of the Dolphins' offensive line—and, by extension, quarterback Ryan Tannehill. As mentioned previously, they had just one sack of Tannehill in the previous meeting, and they'll need to do better at disrupting the passing game this year.

    Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes will likely be locked on Jets receiver Eric Decker, but aside from that, Miami's depth is lacking in the secondary, which could leave plenty of open space for Jeremy Kerley, David Nelson and others. 

    If the Jets are able to move the ball on the ground, the linebackers will begin to come up and that will help Geno Smith hit his tight ends over the middle, which have been some of his favorite weapons in the passing game.

    Prediction: Jets 27, Dolphins 24