Zach Wilson, Tom Brady, Sam Darnold
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Jets 2021 schedule has been released. Week 1 features a tricky NFL play, but most of the slate keeps it regular.

Robby Sabo

How does one stay regular in today’s landscape? Water always helps, obviously. Coffee, too. Some folks decide to take it further with Metamucil (you don’t have to be 75-plus to buy that stuff at CVS) or by eating a hearty bowl of bran.

While you, the New York Jets fan, might be a regular guy or gal, your team is anything but. From serving as the AFL leader who helped pro football towards the merger to the disastrous Adam Gase era, Jets beat writers have enjoyed their time with the team that has never failed to produce headlines over the last six decades.

The official NFL 2021 schedule is out, which means two things. One, the time to shine for every one of the 32 NFL team social media teams has officially arrived. And two, senseless “way too early” win-loss predictions begin to surface web-wide.

The Jets social media team deserves a solid grade after its schedule-release video.

And no, Jet X won’t take you through the ridiculous win-loss exercise in May. Instead, we’ll take on the critical issue that is staying regular. (Priorities, folks.)

The Jets understand the notion. Thirteen of the team’s 17 games are currently slated for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff. How much more regular can a squad get?

Former Jet Damien Woody also knows the deal.

Preach, big man. When a friendly pickup basketball game makes your body feel like it went through a week of two-a-days, you know it’s time to start simplifying things. (My left calf is still screaming at me four days later.)

The caveat to all this regular talk comes in two places, both of which we’ll examine as we now hit on each game with some initial thoughts.

Week 1: at Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Sept. 12, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Oh, those tricky NFL schedule makers. We’ll always know 14 of the 17 future opponents years in advance, and all 17 for the following season once the current season ends, but we never quite know the scheduling order.

A tip of the cap the NFL’s direction is worthwhile here, as a Sam Darnold vs. Zach Wilson opener is too perfect. Fans joked about the possibility, yet it’s come to fruition.

Darnold and Robby Anderson will have a shot to stick it to their former employer. Meanwhile, Wilson’s debut is suddenly ramped up as it comes against his predecessor.

Week 2: vs. New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 19, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The New England Patriots showing up on the schedule early in the season is a bit of a surprise. Usually, the Jets and Pats will play each other later in the campaign—like last year, for example, when they met in Week 9 and 17.

In 2019, they squared off twice within a five-week span, beginning in Week 3. But the last time the Jets and Pats played in Week 2 came in 2013.

Along with the Carolina game, the New England game is a winnable contest. New York’s opening part of the schedule doesn’t mirror the deathtrap it did two years ago or even last year.

Week 3: at Denver Broncos, Sunday, Sept. 26, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

We’ll label this one as “semi-regular.”

The Jets’ only scheduled 4 p.m. ET-range game comes in Week 3 when they head out to Mile High to take on the Denver Broncos. It appears like Drew Lock’s starting job is safe—unless Teddy Bridgewater snags it away in August.

The Jets’ first three weeks don’t include a playoff team from 2020. New head coach Robert Saleh has to love that idea.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 24: Corey Davis #84 of the Tennessee Titans shouts as he runs onto the field before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Nissan Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee.
(Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)

Week 4: vs. Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 3, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The team’s first 2020 playoff team pops up in Week 4. Mike Vrabel’s Tennessee Titans visit MetLife Stadium for yet another 1 p.m. ET game. New York lost the last meeting, 26-22, in 2018, and three of the last five.

Wide receiver Corey Davis won’t have to return to Tennessee this coming season. Instead, he’ll welcome his former teammates into his new house—hopefully with 100 percent capacity.

Week 5: at Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Oct. 10, 9:30 a.m. ET, NFLN

Not only do the Jets get an extra home game this season—in this 17-game schedule—but they also have one fewer road contest. Interestingly, in the year the AFC teams get the extra home game, the NFC team gives up a home game for London.

This one’s anything but regular.

Much has been made about the Jets having to go to London this season. Many fans hate the idea of waking up at 9:30 a.m. ET to watch a game. (Imagine if you lived on the west coast.)

As far as the opponent is concerned, again, we’re not talking about the 1984 San Francisco 49ers here. The Jets have a great opportunity to showcase a solid record after five games.

Week 6: bye

According to Warren Sharp, teams that play in London are given the opportunity to take their bye week immediately after or wait until later in the season. If that’s true, apparently, Saleh opted to take it in Week 6, which means they’ll close the season out with 12-straight games.

The good thing is, unlike Darnold and Anderson’s currently Carolina situation, the Jets have all the gas with no brake.

Week 7: at New England Patriots, Sunday, Oct. 24, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

For the second time in six weeks, the Jets and Pats will meet. Saleh takes the bye week after London and prior to his second meeting with Bill Belichick.

Who’s New England’s quarterback at this point? Is it Mac Jones, Cam Newton or somebody else?

Week 8: vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Oct. 31, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase (who I can’t believe they selected over Penei Sewell) and the Cincinnati Bengals head east in Week 8. Cincy has always represented a fun Jets opponent, as the green guys lead 17-10 all time, but they have lost the last three meetings.

Only one 2020 playoff team has appeared on the schedule through seven games.

Week 9: at Indianapolis Colts, Thursday, Nov. 4, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFLN

Here’s when the schedule begins to ramp up. The Indianapolis Colts should be a tough out in 2021. How they lost that wild-card matchup last year to the Buffalo Bills, I’ll never know. (I’ve never seen an offensive line dominate to such a degree while the coaching staff completely botched everything.)

Anyway, the mid-way point against Indy, on a Thursday night, represents the Jets’ lone primetime game of the season and the team’s other “non-regular” week of the year. That is unless they stun the world and NBC opts to flex them into primetime later in the campaign.

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Marcus Maye #20 of the New York Jets tries to make a tackle as Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills runs the ball during the first quarter at Bills Stadium on September 13, 2020 in Orchard Park, New York.
(Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

Week 10: vs. Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Nov. 14, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Speaking of the Bills, here they are. The division rivals don’t meet until Nov. 14 this season, a departure from usually meeting early in the season. MVP candidate Josh Allen and company are right at the top of the AFC, along with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, heading into 2021.

Buffalo holds a 65-56 all-time series edge over New York.

Week 11: vs. Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Nov. 21, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The next game should break the tie. New York vs. Miami currently sports an all-time 55-55-1 record. Losing six of the last seven and eight of the last 10, New York has allowed its most bitter all-time rival back in the mix.

More importantly, Brian Flores‘s squad is hoping to build off a phenomenal 2020 season. The Fins didn’t make the playoffs, but with 10 wins, they certainly were deserving. Week 9, 10 and 11 is a tough three-game stretch that may make or break the season. The good news is that two of the three are at home.

Week 12: at Houston Texans, Sunday, Nov. 28, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Back to the bottom-feeders of the league, which welcomes us to Houston. Deshaun Watson‘s 2021 situation will greatly factor into this one. But if his next destination is the Miami Dolphins, his situation will factor into the Jets’ lives that much more.

New York owns a 5-3 all-time series lead over Houston, and this is after the Texans have taken the last three games. The last time the Jets beat the Texans came in the 2010 season when Mark Sanchez stunned them in the closing seconds. Just a year prior, the Jets knocked them off soundly in the season opener when Rex Ryan introduced his aggressive blitz looks to the NFL in grand style.

Week 13: vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 5, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

We all know how the 16- (now 17-) game schedule is formulated. Each team plays its division rivals twice (six), each team in one AFC division once (four, which rotates each year with the three eligible divisions), and each team in one NFC division (four, which rotates each year with the four eligible divisions), which account for 14 identical games every one of in-division-rival teams experiences.

Now, three games will be unique when the Jets schedule is compared to the Bills, Dolphins and Patriots. The Jets, having finished fourth last year, are matched up with the AFC South’s fourth-place team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the AFC West’s fourth-place team, the Broncos.

For the first time ever, a place-vs.-place matchup will occur between conferences. First up, the AFC East is matched up with the NFC East, which means the Jets get the Philadelphia Eagles, the only team the green New Jersey football organization has never beaten.

Eleven all-time games, 11 Jets losses.

Jets X-Factor

Week 14: vs. New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Dec. 12, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

After the tough three-game stretch comes a couple of pushovers (on paper) in the Texans and Eagles. But then things start to get real again.

Week 14 brings Sean Payton and the Drew Brees-less New Orleans Saints to town. How it works out with No. 9 will be something of major note this season. Interestingly, quarterback situations seem to be breaking the Jets way of late. First, Tom Brady‘s departure lightens up two games a year, and now Watson’s situation allows Week 13 to look better, while Brees’s retirement has Week 14 look like there’s a shot.

The Jets could tie the all-time series record at seven games apiece with a win.

Week 15: at Miami Dolphins, Saturday or Sunday, Dec. 18 or 19, TBD, CBS

The Jets will take on the Pats twice in a six-game stretch, and they’ll also take on the Dolphins twice within a short time period (six weeks). The day and time for this one have yet to be determined, as it’s the time of year Saturday pro football starts to hit our lives.

Week 16: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Dec. 26, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Zach Wilson vs. Trevor Lawrence will have to wait until the day after Christmas. By this point, the rookie seasons for each quarterback will have been largely written. The odds that Tim Tebow is still around, feels like a longshot.

The Jags in Week 16 represent the only breather for Saleh’s team over the final five weeks of the season.

Tom Brady
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Week 17: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Jan. 2, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Of course the Jets are slated to take on the NFC South in either the first or second year Tom Brady decided to take his talents to Tampa. It just makes sense.

It’s the NFC South this year, so it’s Brady, again. The Jets get only one season of no Brady, their first since 2008.

In reality, the real revenge aspect to this one comes in the form of Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, the man who’ll be taking on the organization he once coached for four years.

Week 18: at Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 9, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Wrapping up the 2021 season, on Jan. 1, which is strange to be playing this late into January, will be the Bills in Orchard Park, NY. Naturally, this scenario brings out the fans’ worst fears, as 2015 is always remembered.

This time around, fans would be overjoyed if Saleh’s team has any shot at playoff football over the course of the last five or six weeks.


Overall, this is not a tough schedule. Granted, looking at a schedule’s difficulty in May is a silly exercise. At least two teams that we think will be bad will shock the league, while at least two teams we think will be good will be knocked down a peg or two (whether it comes in the form of injuries, bad luck or some other unforeseen circumstance).

Nonetheless, Douglas and Saleh have to be pleased with the way this schedule looks. Sure, a no Darnold narrative for Wilson’s first-ever NFL game would have been ideal, and very few teams are eager to travel to London, but considering the Jets have nine home games and just seven true road games (with London considered as a neutral-site contest) is an ultra-positive situation.

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