The five members of the Jets X-Factor crew submit their game-by-game predictions for the New York Jets’ 2020 schedule.
Jets X-Factor’s 2020 predictions:
Week 1: at Buffalo Bills (Sunday, September 13, 1pm Eastern)
Ben Blessington: Win (1-0)
Joe Blewett: Loss (0-1)
Michael Nania: Loss (0-1)
Robby Sabo: Win (1-0)
Sam Crnic: Win (1-0)
Buffalo is currently listed as a six-point favorite at most outlets. That’s a fair estimate. This game will be an excellent test for the Jets to kick off the season. The Bills have a very well-rounded roster and a lot of continuity to help them weather the unique circumstances of the 2020 season. Meanwhile, the Jets have a roster with quite a few holes on paper and a ton of new faces trying to acclimate in a short amount of time.
The Bills are no longer a cakewalk. They have sufficient or elite talent at nearly every position. If the Jets can take down Buffalo in Week 1, it would be a major boon to their 2020 outlook.
Excluding the Week 17 game against the Jets in which they mostly played their backups, the Bills went 4-3 at home in 2019, going 4-0 against teams that finished the season with a losing record and 0-3 against teams that finished with a winning record.
Protecting the ball was one of the most important keys to defeating Buffalo last year. When the Bills had two takeaways or more, they were 5-0, and when they had one or zero takeaways, they were 5-7 (including playoffs).
Week 2: vs. San Francisco 49ers (Sunday, September 20, 1pm)
Ben: Loss (1-1)
Joe: Loss (0-2)
Michael: Loss (0-2)
Robby: Win (2-0)
Sam: Loss (1-1)
The rebuilt Jets offense will be quickly tested to begin the year. Buffalo ranked sixth in defensive DVOA this past season, while San Francisco ranked third.
Since 2011, the Jets are 8-6 at home against teams from the NFC West or AFC West. In each of the past two seasons, the Jets were dominant in their only home meeting against a western team, defeating Denver in 2018 (34-16) and Oakland in 2019 (34-3).
For what it’s worth, the 49ers were a far more beatable team when they headed east in 2019. Over five games (including playoffs) in the Eastern Time Zone, the 49ers went 3-2 and scored 20.6 points per game offensively. Conversely, they were 12-2 while scoring 30.3 points per game in the other three time zones.
Week 3: at Indianapolis Colts (Sunday, September 27, 4:05pm)
Ben: Win (2-1)
Joe: Win (1-2)
Michael: Win (1-2)
Robby: Loss (2-1)
Sam: Loss (1-2)
Philip Rivers has been successful against the Jets in the regular season, posting 10 touchdowns, four interceptions, and a 96.5 passer rating while leading the Chargers to a 4-1 record. That’s Rivers’ second-best record among the 15 opponents he has faced at least five times, trailing only the Bills (6-1).
Rivers has defeated the Jets in three consecutive meetings – tossing six touchdowns and one interception – since his last loss to the Jets in Week 7 of 2011. The Jets also took down Rivers in the 2009 Divisional game.
The Jets have a 3-1 all-time record at Lucas Oil Stadium, with their last trip to Indianapolis being a 20-7 win on Monday Night Football in Week 2 of 2015. Now-Jets receiver Donte Moncrief posted 122 yards for the Colts in that game, which remains the second-best total of his career.
Week 4: vs. Denver Broncos (Thursday, October 1, 8:20pm)
Ben: Loss (2-2)
Joe: Win (2-2)
Michael: Loss (1-3)
Robby: Loss (2-2)
Sam: Win (2-2)
The Jets are 2-7 on Thursday Night Football since 2011, going 1-5 on the road and 1-2 at home. Their last win on Thursday was a 34-21 rout over the Bills in Week 9 of 2017.
Back in 2011, the Jets headed to Denver for a TNF game and lost a 17-13 heartbreaker at the height of Tim Tebow-mania.
Denver is 8-3 (.727) on TNF since 2011, the third-best record in the league over that span. The Broncos have maintained a solid 3-2 TNF record even over their post-championship run of mediocrity (since 2016).
However, since 2017, the Broncos are a league-worst 2-8 in the Eastern Time Zone. This is an important note to keep in mind. Many fans are worried about the Jets’ 2020 schedule because of the four difficult road trips out west, but the Jets also have the benefit of hosting four western teams that have to travel cross-country. It balances out.
Week 5: vs. Arizona Cardinals (Sunday, October 11, 1pm)
Ben: Win (3-2)
Joe: Loss (2-3)
Michael: Win (2-3)
Robby: Win (3-2)
Sam: Win (3-2)
Whereas the Broncos have been the NFL’s worst team on the east coast since 2017, the Cardinals are the league’s worst team in the east if you push back one more year. Arizona is 3-10 in the Eastern Time Zone since 2016, worst in the NFL over that span (although they did go 2-2 in 2019).
If both players are healthy, this matchup would feature the seventh battle between DeAndre Hopkins and Pierre Desir. Over six games against Desir since 2017, Hopkins has averaged 5.7 first downs and 1.0 touchdown, comfortably beating out his usual averages of 4.7 first downs and 0.63 touchdowns over that span.
Arizona and Denver are two of the league’s biggest favorites to have much-improved seasons, but nevertheless, this is a spot on the schedule that the Jets need to take advantage of: back-to-back home games against west coast squads.
Week 6: at Los Angeles Chargers (Sunday, October 18, 4:05pm)
Ben: Loss (3-3)
Joe: Win (3-3)
Michael: Loss (2-4)
Robby: Loss (3-3)
Sam: Loss (3-3)
The first of four trips out west for the Jets.
New York has not been able to handle cross-country road games over its nine-year playoff drought. Since 2011, the Jets are 2-10 on the road against teams from the AFC West or NFC West, third-worst over that span. Their only wins came against the 2-win 49ers in 2016 and the 7-win Rams in 2012, a game that can hardly be considered a “west coast trip” since it was played in St. Louis.
Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor has tossed eight touchdowns and two interceptions over six starts against the Jets, going 3-2 in the five games he finished, but in the most recent start, he was benched for Baker Mayfield while Cleveland was trailing 14-0. In that game, Taylor completed 4-of-14 passes for 19 yards (1.4 per attempt) while taking three sacks for minus-22 yards – netting -3 yards of passing offense.
While this will be the Jets’ first appearance in Los Angeles since a loss to the Rams in 1992, it will not be their first game against the Chargers in L.A.
Both the Jets and Chargers debuted in the 1960 AFL season. The Chargers spent that season in Los Angeles, their first and only year in the city until they moved back 57 years later. The Jets – then known as the Titans – lost two games to the Chargers that season, including a 50-43 loss at the Coliseum in the season finale. The Jets’ (well, Titans’) total of 43 points in that game remains their second-most ever scored in the Pacific Time Zone, trailing only their 44 points in a 2002 victory over the San Diego Chargers.
Week 7: vs. Buffalo Bills (Sunday, October 25, 1pm)
Ben: Loss (3-4)
Joe: Loss (3-4)
Michael: Win (3-4)
Robby: Win (4-3)
Sam: Loss (3-4)
We have yet to see Sam Darnold and Josh Allen get two matchups in one season. In 2018, both quarterbacks missed the Week 10 meeting between these two teams (a 41-10 Bills win). In Week 17 of this past season, Allen started the game but was benched after two drives as the Bills were already locked into the AFC’s fifth seed.
In an interesting scheduling quirk, the Jets will wrap up their season series with the Bills before their first meeting with either the Dolphins or Patriots. This mid-season battle will likely amount to having crucial playoff implications when the dust settles in January.
Bills-Jets games in the Tri-State Area have always been a toss-up. The Jets have a 30-29 all-time record against the Bills at home. In recent years, the two teams have been alternating streaks. Buffalo has won the last two meetings. The Jets won in 2016-17, Buffalo won in 2014-15, and the Jets won four straight from 2010-13.
Quarterback play has been the determining factor in recent Bills-at-Jets matchups. In home games against the Bills since 2009, the Jets are 6-0 when their quarterback posts a passer rating of 85.0 or better, and 0-5 when he posts a passer rating below 85.0.
Week 8: at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, November 1, 1pm)
Ben: Loss (3-5)
Joe: Loss (3-5)
Michael: Loss (3-5)
Robby: Loss (4-4)
Sam: Loss (3-5)
None of us were willing to go out on a limb and give the Jets a win on the road against the defending Super Bowl champs. This is the only game on the entire schedule that we came to a unanimous decision on.
Could the Jets win this game? Sure they can. Every NFL team is capable of beating any of the other 31 teams. However, as both rosters appear at the moment, the Jets would need a massive amount of things to go their way in order to take down Kansas City. But a lot can change over the next two months.
The Chiefs did lose two home games with a healthy Patrick Mahomes last season, dropping back-to-back games against Indianapolis and Houston, so they’re not completely unstoppable. The formula – keep your own mistakes down and hope the Chiefs beat themselves. Kansas City committed 11 penalties in each loss.
Four of us see the Jets going 3-5 in the first half, while Robby has them at 4-4. It’s certainly a tough first-half slate, but as long as the Jets stay afloat, there is room to make up ground in the second half.
Think about it from a hypothetical standpoint. The Jets pulled a 6-2 finish out of nowhere last year. If they just closed out the Bills in Week 1 and took care of business against the winless Dolphins in Week 9, going into the halfway point at 3-5, a 6-2 finish would have put them at 9-7. That’s the same record posted by the Titans, who went on to the AFC Championship.
As a team in transition, the Jets may start off slow this year, but with Tom Brady gone and a newly-minted third Wild Card spot available, their season will likely not be truly over until they lose their ninth game. Stay afloat early, and the Jets can make a second-half run as their reconstructed roster begins to gel.
Week 9: vs. New England Patriots (Monday, November 9, 8:15pm)
Ben: Win (4-5)
Joe: Win (4-5)
Michael: Win (4-5)
Robby: Loss (4-5)
Sam: Win (4-5)
There are so many storylines in play here. This will be the Jets’ first game against a Patriots team without Tom Brady since a 34-31 overtime win over Matt Cassel in Week 11 of 2008. It will also be their first game against a Patriots team that does not employ Brady since a 24-17 win over Drew Bledsoe in Week 10 of 1999.
For the Jets, this game begins a crucial run of three straight AFC East games at a point of the season where their playoff and/or divisional title hopes will likely be hanging in the balance.
Additionally, the Jets will be looking to avenge their embarrassing 33-0 Monday Night Football loss to New England in 2019.
Cam Newton is scheduled to face Miami in Week 1 and Buffalo the week prior to this game against the Jets, so this matchup would complete his first go-around in the AFC East.
This could be primetime football at its finest – a chance for the Jets to establish a changing of the guard in the AFC East on national television.
Week 10: at Miami Dolphins (Sunday, November 15, 4:05pm)
Ben: Win (5-5)
Joe: Loss (4-6)
Michael: Win (5-5)
Robby: Win (5-5)
Sam: Loss (4-6)
The Jets will visit Miami in Week 10 while the Dolphins will visit New York in Week 12, with both teams taking their bye week in Week 11.
I thought there had to have been an error when I saw that the Jets were scheduled to play the Dolphins in back-to-back games. You almost never see these on NFL schedules.
In fact, the Jets have played back-to-back regular season games against the same opponent just one other time in their history. That was a back-to-back set with the Bills (swept by Buffalo) in Weeks 14-15 of 1963, the Jets’ first season with their new name and fourth-ever season in the AFL.
The Jets are in the midst of a rough patch in Miami, losing four straight road games against the Dolphins. All four losses were by one score, and the Jets held a lead in three of them.
Prior to this stretch, the Jets had won 12 of their past 17 games in Miami.
Week 12: vs. Miami Dolphins (Sunday, November 29, 1pm)
Ben: Win (6-5)
Joe: Win (5-6)
Michael: Win (6-5)
Robby: Loss (5-6)
Sam: Win (5-6)
Ben and I have the Jets sweeping this set to get above .500 with a three-game win streak. Contrary to the name, Cool Your Jets brings the optimism!
If one of these teams can pull off a sweep here, it would be such a massive momentum-swinger, especially with the bye week extending the vibe of the first game’s result. In a division race that could have all four teams in legitimate contention, this two-game set could be a major turning point.
Week 13: vs. Las Vegas Raiders (Sunday, December 6, 1pm)
Ben: Win (7-5)
Joe: Win (6-6)
Michael: Loss (6-6)
Robby: Win (6-6)
Sam: Loss (5-7)
The Raiders will be seeking revenge after taking a 34-3 pounding at MetLife in Week 13 of last season.
Over the past three seasons, the Raiders are 2-7 in the Eastern Time Zone. Their struggles out east have persisted throughout the entirety of their 17-year run without a playoff victory since losing Super Bowl XXXVII in the 2002 season. Since 2003, the Raiders are 11-42 (.208) in Eastern Time Zone road games, better than only the Browns (17-72 / .191).
Week 14: at Seattle Seahawks (Sunday, December 13, 4:05pm)
Ben: Loss (7-6)
Joe: Loss (6-7)
Michael: Loss (6-7)
Robby: Win (7-6)
Sam: Win (6-7)
The grudge match that the world is waiting for.
OK, and Jamal Adams is there, too.
The Jets have a 3-5 all-time record in Seattle. Their last win in the Pacific Northwest was a 41-3 blowout to open the 1997 season, featuring a career-high five touchdown passes by Neil O’Donnell. Since then, the Jets have been outscored 41-10 by the Seahawks over two losses in Seattle, coming in Week 10 of 2012 and Week 16 of 2008.
The last time the Jets defeated the Seahawks in New Jersey was in 2004, the third of three consecutive home wins over Seattle. That streak was snapped by a 27-17 Seahawks win in Week 4 of 2016.
Week 15: at Los Angeles Rams (Sunday, December 20, Time TBD)
Ben: Loss (7-7)
Joe: Win (7-7)
Michael: Win (7-7)
Robby: Loss (7-7)
Sam: Loss (6-8)
Game is subject to be moved to Saturday, December 19.
With back-to-back road games on the west coast, this could be the point of the season where the Jets’ playoff chances are made or broken. All five of us project the Jets to enter this game with a record at or slightly below .500, so dropping two road games in Weeks 14-15 could bury them.
As previously mentioned, the Jets have not played a game in L.A. since a loss to the Rams in 1992.
The Jets have a 1-7 all-time record in Los Angeles, going 1-3 against the Rams, 0-3 against the Raiders, and 0-1 against the Chargers. Their only win came in 1970, led by quarterback Al Woodall, who threw for 261 yards on 10-of-17 passing. It stands as a Jets record for the most passing yards in a game with 10 completions or fewer.
Most teams see their performance level change accordingly based on travel advantages and disadvantages, as we have seen throughout this piece. In recent years, the Rams have not been one of those teams.
Los Angeles has been mysteriously awful at home against teams making a cross-country trip. Since moving back out west in 2016, the Rams are 2-11 at home against teams that hail from the Eastern Time Zone, with their only wins coming over a 4-12 Colts team (2017) and a 2-14 Bengals team (2019). The Rams are 16-5 in all other home games over that span.
Week 16: vs. Cleveland Browns (Sunday, December 27, Time TBD)
Ben: Loss (7-8)
Joe: Loss (7-8)
Michael: Win (8-7)
Robby: Win (8-7)
Sam: Win (7-8)
Game is subject to be moved to Saturday, December 26.
The addition of a third Wild Card spot really opens up the playoff window. Last year, the 8-8 Steelers would have made the AFC playoffs as the seventh seed.
Cleveland and the Jets are two teams who could be clinging to a sliver of dying hope for a Wild Card spot in the final couple weeks of the season, making this matchup a potential do-or-die clash.
Mayfield has led the Browns to two wins over the Jets already, but we have yet to get the true Darnold-vs.-Baker duel that the football world deserves. Mayfield came off the bench in his career debut back in Week 3 of 2018, while Darnold missed last year’s Week 2 MNF clash due to mononucleosis.
Perhaps this game – with playoff dreams potentially on the line – will be the classic we have been waiting for, dawning a new longtime rivalry between a pair of talented young quarterbacks carrying their inept franchises back to relevance.
The Browns were mostly awful on the road last year, going 2-6 with four of those losses coming against teams that closed the season at .500 or worse. The other two losses were blowouts in San Francisco and New England, as Cleveland lost those two games by a combined 42 points.
Cleveland has not gone better than 2-6 on the road in a single season since going 3-5 in 2014. They have not had a .500-plus record on the road since going 6-2 in 2002.
Week 17: at New England Patriots (Sunday, January 3, 1pm)
Ben: Win (8-8)
Joe: Loss (7-9)
Michael: Loss (8-8)
Robby: Win (9-7)
Sam: Loss (7-9)
It has been quite some time since the Jets have been remotely competitive in Foxborough, let alone win a game there. Over their last four trips to Gillette Stadium, the Jets have been outscored 135-26 (33.8 to 6.5 on average), failing to score a single offensive touchdown.
Perhaps with Thomas Edward Patrick Brady now employed by an organization in Florida, the Jets can go up to Foxborough and actually play a real two-sided football game that isn’t over halfway through the first quarter.
The Jets’ last competitive game at Gillette was a 30-23 loss by the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led squad that entered New England with a 4-1 record in Week 6 of 2015. That was the fourth of four consecutive one-score losses by the Jets in New England from 2012-15.
All told, the Jets have lost nine consecutive games in Massachusetts since their incredible upset win in the 2010 Divisional round. They have lost 11 straight regular season games there, last winning in Week 11 of 2008 over the Cassel-led Pats.
Brady finished his Patriots career with a 15-2 record against the Jets at home, losing only in 2002 (his first home start against the Jets) and 2006, capping off on a 12-game win streak.
From a viewer’s perspective, it would be nice if the Jets could play a Week 17 game that actually mattered for once. It has been a drag watching them play December football with a preseason feel to it.
From 2011-19, the Jets only played two Week 17 games in which they entered with a chance to make the playoffs, coming in 2011 (loss at Miami) and 2015 (loss at Buffalo).
Nobody wants to watch no-stakes football. The game is at its best when there is a collective feeling that everything is on the line. The Jets have played very few of those games over the past nine years.
This fanbase is starving to get invested in meaningful games. Will 2020 be the year that the Jets finally get back to playing games in December that truly matter? Or will fans be forced to watch more snooze-fests in which the only points of interest are draft position and the progress of young players?
Here are our final predictions.