Florham Park N.J. - Last season ended in bitter disappointment for the New York Jets on a cold and miserable Buffalo afternoon. They were on the doorstep to enter the playoffs for the first time in five years but were shutdown by a motivated Bills team with a familiar face on the sideline - Rex Ryan. With the 2016 NFL regular season about to kickoff on Thursday, it is that time of year for over-the-top predictions and the occasional "hot take."
Week One: Home Opener vs. Cincinnati Bengals - 9/11
This will be one of the more anticipated home openers in recent memory for the Jets organization that does not involve the names of Sanchez or Tebow. New York returns nearly every one of their roster members of a year ago that compiled 10 victories and while the offense did not light up the scoreboard in the preseason, the chemistry the unit constructed in 2015 has grown even more during the summer. Do not expect a barnburner as the Bengals defense is projected to be solid once again. But, with a raucous crowd and the Jets victorious in five consecutive home openers, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Co. will get the good vibes flowing early.
Prediction: Jets 20 - Bengals 13 (Jets 1-0)
Week Two: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (Thursday Night) - 9/15
Last season, the Jets lost two heartbreakers to their former head coach, Rex Ryan. Put this in perspective, had the Jets won one of those games, they would have played January football. There was nothing more awful for Jets fans to see than the boisterous Ryan fist pumping and jumping around after Bacarri Rambo intercepted Fitzpatrick in the final minute. This time, they get their revenge. This game marks the return of Sheldon Richardson who will serve his one game suspension. Matt Forte may have a tough time running the ball against a solid Bills front seven, but Fitzpatrick will find Eric Decker and Bilal Powell around the perimeter forcing Rex to chuck his headset on the field - this time in anger.
Prediction: Jets 27 - Bills 17 (Jets 2-0)
Week Three: New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs - 9/25
This game will bring Jets fans down a notch after a 2-0 start to the season. Arrowhead Stadium is one of the toughest places to play and it will not get any easier for the young Jets offensive line that may commit more than a few false start penalties in this one. New York will keep it close with their defense playing strong, but in the end, Alex Smith and Andy Reid will design a gameplan that will wear the defense out in the fourth quarter. Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams will be in Smith's face all afternoon, but they will run out of energy after spending a good portion of the game on the field.
Prediction: Chiefs 20 - Jets 10 (Jets 2-1)
Week Four: New York Jets vs. Seattle Seahawks - 10/2
Entering the week, the Jets are going to be heavy underdogs against a very good Seattle Seahawks team. By then, Seattle will be 3-0 after defeating the Dolphins, Rams and 49ers in embarrassing fashion. Not one expert will pick the Jets on CBS, FOX or ESPN. Which means, the Jets will come away with the win in thrilling fashion. The Seahawks will have to go to the east coast, play a 1 PM game - all the makings of a letdown in East Rutherford. Expect the Jets to play motivated behind their fans that will be clad in white for the team's annual Whiteout and after a rough loss in Kansas City.
Prediction: Jets 24 - Seahawks 20 (Jets 3-1)
Week Five: New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers - 10/9
Since 2000, the Jets are 4-7 against the Steelers with just one of those wins coming at Heinz Field. New York will be coming off a big win against an elite Seahawks team but will be sobered by Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger who will team up to beat Darrelle Revis for a more than a few big plays. Cue the fans and experts saying, "Revis is done." For this one game, Revis will look human. This game will get Brown slightly closer to acquiring Brandon Marshall's Porsche.
Prediction: Steelers 24 - Jets 17 (Jets 3-2)
Week Six: New York Jets at Arizona Cardinals - 10/17
The last few seasons, the Jets have gone on the big stage - on the road - and staged a thrilling upset against a strong team. They did it against the Colts on Monday Night last season and they did it against the Falcons in 2013 - the Jets love prime time. New York will play one of their more complete games of the season, but the Cardinals will get a final minute field goal to defeat Todd Bowles' crew. Doubt will begin to set in the back of Jets fans' minds, as the team will suffer their second consecutive loss.
Prediction: Cardinals 21 - Jets 20 (Jets 3-3)
Week Seven: New York Jets vs. Baltimore Ravens - 10/23
On a mini two-game slide the Jets will take the field in their green uniforms looking for new mojo. Todd Bowles will continue to insist during the week Ryan Fitzpatrick will not be benched, Darrelle Revis is the same player he once was, and Brandon Marshall is not hurting the team with his attitude. The Ravens are not very good and the Jets will showcase that the entire afternoon. Joe Flacco will be intercepted twice - once by Revis - and Ryan Fitzpatrick will connect with Marshall twice and Decker once for scores. This one will be ugly, for Baltimore.
Prediction: Jets 31 - Ravens 14 (Jets 4-3)
Week Eight: New York Jets at Cleveland Browns - 10/30
With Halloween right around the corner and a date with the rival Dolphins next week, the Jets will face a major trap game in Cleveland. That sounds scary. But, the Jets defensive line will play out of their minds and force Robert Griffin III out of the game in the first half. Leonard Williams will continue his monstrous sophomore season and sack the Browns' signal caller three times in the first 30 minutes. It will also be a promising sign for Jets fans, as Revis will shut down Josh Gordon until garbage time in the fourth quarter. By then, the game will be out of reach.
Prediction: Jets 28 - Browns 13 (Jets 5-3)
Week Nine: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins - 11/6
The Jets did something last year they have not done since 2007 - sweep the season series with the Miami Dolphins. With the Dolphins projected to be the bottom-feeders of the AFC East this season, the Jets will see this as an opportunity to build off their two-game win streak and go to 2-0 against their division. It will be a lackluster Miami offensive line against a hungry Jets defensive line. This will not bode well for Ryan Tannehill who - after the game - may invest in some real estate on the new SunLife Stadium sod.
Prediction: Jets 34 - Dolphins 17 (Jets 6-3)
Week Ten: New York Jets vs. Los Angeles Rams - 11/13
By now, positive vibes will be overflowing from Florham Park. The Jets will be in the midst of a three-game win streak that has seen three consecutive blowouts. The chemistry between Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Marshall, and Eric Decker will be thriving and during the week of practice, Geno Smith will pull on Fitzpatrick's long beard for some extra luck during team drills. This has trap game written all over it with the bye week up next. Jets will play down to their competition but come out with the ugly victory. Fitzpatrick will throw a couple of interceptions, forcing the journeyman quarterback to rely heavily on Matt Forte. After the game, Fitzpatrick shaves his beard to stubble in hope the turnovers end.
Prediction: Jets 13 - Rams 8 (Jets 7-3)
Week Eleven: BYE
Week Twelve: New York Jets vs. New England Patriots - 11/27
Todd Bowles did not take a rest in designing the perfect gameplan to defeat Bill Belichick. The team will be fresh off a bye week and the Patriots will be coming off a rout in San Francisco. This has the makings of an instant classic - it always is between the Jets and Patriots. At this point in the season, the Jets will be 7-3 while New England will be 8-2 - a battle for first place in front of a packed house in prime time. By the end of Sunday night, there will be a tie for first place late in the season.
Prediction: Jets 27 - Patriots 24 (Jets 8-3)
Week Thirteen: New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts - 12/5
After a monumental season-changing victory on the big stage against the rival Patriots, the Jets go back under the lights as they take on Andrew Luck and the Colts. New York has Andrew Luck's number beating him twice by a combined score of 55-16 but after a win that brought a breath of fresh air to the organization, the Jets stumble. This is a toss up but Luck gets lucky for the first time against the Jets and wins on the final drive of the game.
Prediction: Colts 28 - Jets 24 (Jets 8-4)
Week Fourteen: New York Jets at San Francisco - 12/11
This is one of the trap games that appear on the schedule late in the season after a team has played consecutive strong games in a row. But, Todd Bowles keeps the Jets even-keeled enough to leave the west coast with a big victory. Colin Kaepernick - who started the season on the bench, was named starter and later was benched again - starts the game against New York's big men - Wilkerson, Williams, and Richardson - and he regrets it. Darron Lee also notches the first sack of his career in this sloppy game. Matt Forte and Bilal Powell combine to rush over 200 yards against a sad 49ers defense.
Prediction: Jets 17 - 49ers 6 (Jets 9-4)
Week Fifteen: New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins - 12/17
With a light snowfall but frigid temperatures in the Meadowlands, the Jets face the Dolphins for the final time of the season. This will be an old-fashioned ground and pound slugfest for the second week in a row. Ryan Fitzpatrick struggles but the defense keeps the Jets alive until the final drive of the game when Fitzpatrick executes a seven play, 84-yard drive that finishes with a fade in the back corner of the endzone to Quincy Enunwa. Jets move to 4-0 against Miami in two seasons.
Prediction Jets 20 - Dolphins 19 (Jets 10-4)
Week Sixteen: New York Jets at New England Patriots - 12/24
The Jets spend Christmas Eve in New England on the brink of clinching a spot in the postseason. Unfortunately for them, the Patriots are out for revenge and remember their shocking week twelve defeat on a nationally televised game. This game gets flexed to the evening hours but this time it is the Patriots who defend the home turf behind four Tom Brady touchdowns - two caught by Rob Gronkowski who torch rookie linebackers Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins. Ryan Fitzpatrick played one of the strongest games of the season but throws a fourth quarter interception to end any bids of a comeback. The playoff party must wait.
Prediction: Patriots 34 - Jets 24 (Jets 10-5)
Week Seventeen: New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills - 1/1
Deja vu? The Jets enter the final day of the regular season with playoff hopes on the line. It is simple - win and they are in. With rally towels handed out to a rabid fanbase, New York's defense feeds off the crowd's energy to sack Tyrod Taylor five times. It is a sloppy game for the Bills who commit over ten penalties as Rex Ryan officially loses the team. The Jets send Buffalo to the offseason, while Todd Bowles gets ready to prepare for his first postseason as head coach. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall - excited that they finally make the postseason - lead the team around the field to give their fans high fives and handshakes.
Prediction: Jets 27 - Bills 13 (Jets 11-5)
The Jets will clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2010 and partake in the Wild Card game.
Joe Barone is a staff writer at JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@28JoeBarone), or via email (email@example.com).null