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Why you’re probably overreacting to the ‘difficult’ NY Jets schedule

Zach Wilson, Lamar Jackson, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, 2022 Schedule, Date
Zach Wilson, New York Jets, Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens, Getty Images, Jet X Graphic

The true difficulty level of the New York Jets’ 2022 schedule remains an unknown

Ever since the New York Jets‘ 2021 season concluded in early January, we had known all 17 games that the team would play in the 2022 season. Regardless, it wasn’t until the NFL’s full schedule was released in May that fans began to intensely fixate on exactly who the Jets will be playing.

For many fans, the hype that stemmed from the team’s offseason moves was promptly squashed by the unveiling of a daunting schedule that looked like it would feature one “L” after the next for a young Jets team.

New York’s schedule certainly has some intimidating aspects. The start of the season looks particularly rough. The Jets will begin with four consecutive games against the AFC North. After that, the next five games include the Packers, Broncos, and one matchup against each AFC East rival. This leads into a Week 10 bye.

Things soften up after the bye. Enticing matchups against teams like the Bears, Jaguars, Lions, and Seahawks loom over the final nine weeks.

Altogether, the combined 2021 win percentage of the Jets’ 2022 opponents is actually not that bad. The number comes out to .495, giving New York the league’s 17th-most difficult 2022 schedule based on 2021 records. That certainly makes the schedule look much less tough than many have made it out to be.

But that number doesn’t really mean anything at all – and it wouldn’t mean anything if it were significantly higher or lower, either. That brings us to the main point I want to make with this article.

Ultimately, regardless of whether you think the Jets’ schedule is easy, hard, or average, you have no idea how difficult it is truly going to be until the season plays out. Previous-year records tell us very little about how difficult a schedule will end up being. There is so much year-over-year change in the NFL that we can never be certain whether a particular game will be “easy” or “hard” before the season starts.

To exemplify this, let’s examine the accuracy of projected schedule difficulties entering the 2021 NFL season.

The table below showcases the following things:

  • Projected SOS: Each team’s projected strength-of-schedule (SOS) in 2021 based on their opponents’ records from the 2020 regular season
  • Actual SOS: The SOS that each team actually ended up with – based on the combined records of their 2021 opponents in the 2021 regular season (final records after Week 18, not records at the time the opponent was faced)
  • Ranks: Each team’s rank in projected SOS compared to their rank in actual SOS

Here’s the data.

TeamProj SOSActual SOSSOS Diff.Proj RankActual RankRank Diff.

There’s a ton of variance in there. While some teams ended up facing a schedule that was about as difficult as expected, many ended up facing a much different schedule than the one their fans thought they would.

On average, teams saw a difference of 0.024 between their projected SOS and their actual SOS. That’s far more significant than it might seem at first glance, as it’s equal to the difference between a perfectly average .500 SOS and Chicago’s .524 SOS that ranked 6th-hardest in the NFL.

The average team saw a 7.5-spot difference between their projected SOS rank and their actual SOS rank. There were 11 teams that saw their rank change by at least 10 spots – that’s about one-third of the league.

Of the 16 teams that had a projected SOS over .500, six of them ended up having an SOS below .500. Additionally, of the 16 teams that had a projected SOS below .500, seven of them ended up having an SOS of .500 or higher.

New York Jets, Jets X-Factor

Just sit back and enjoy the ride

Here’s the moral of the story: At this point of the year, we don’t know how difficult any NFL team’s schedule is going to be. There’s little purpose in sitting here right now and trying to pretend we know with complete certainty which games on the Jets’ schedule will be the “hard” ones and which will be the “easy” ones.

Going into the 2021 season, if I said that the Jets would play one game against the AFC’s future No. 1 seed and another game against a future Super Bowl team, there is not a soul in the world who would predict the Titans and Bengals to be those teams; let alone that the Jets would beat both of them. Crazy stuff happens in the NFL.

We don’t know how difficult the Jets’ schedule is going to turn out to be. It could absolutely be the treacherous gauntlet that many are labeling it as. It could be as league-average as their current projected SOS suggests it will be. Or, some of their seemingly elite opponents could take unexpected nosedives and present the Jets with a surprising cakewalk of a schedule.

Let’s just wait and see how it all plays out.

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2 years ago

Great article, thanks! Initially I was very upset with the schedule, but your article/stats definitely help allay those concerns.

2 years ago

Such a true article. Every year, our impulses is to instantly project and (as Jets fans) stress over the schedule. Our team’s been abysmally bad for many years, so our negative impulses are very understandable. However, the team has much improved personnel so that gives them the baseline of a better chance to compete with the better teams. Late last year, an inferior Jets team (both to their opponent and to this year’s Jets squad) played the Brady led Bucs to the wire in a game that they should have won. Nobody expected them to play that way. The key for this year will be early confidence. A win against the Ravens for this squad will be huge in that area and is possible.

2 years ago

I don’t think it’s terrible and I think they can start 3-1. The door is open for that, Baltimore is a good home opener. They have had a less than a smooth off-season, Jackson will need to do some patching up and that offense doesn’t scare me. Cle and Pitt will have new QB’s and the Browns in particluar will have to deal with some distractions. They certianly can beat Cincy at home, so there is a window of opportunity. The thing is, other teams look at their schedule and figure the Jets ARE the easy game. Let’s not forget Richard Seymour’s induction speech saying he wanted it to be during their “homecoming” game vs. the Jets. The thing I don’t like about the schedule is all 3 division games are home then all 3 on the road. That’s terrible, that NFL would never do that to a team like the Patoilets. There is a window is there for the Jets to hang 4-4/5-5 ish and make a playoff run. Time will tell.

2 years ago
Reply to  Jets71

There is clearly an anti-Jets sentiment somewhere in the league office imo. It must be super rare to have a team play 4 straight games to start the season against another division. However, screw the belly-aching about it. If you’re improved, you beat the teams you play…period.

2 years ago

There’s always some crazy results at the beginning of the season before we find out who’s who in zoo. Later, those results are more easily explained.
Injuries will play their part too. The Russell Wilson injury last year turned a seemingly perpetual play off team into a 7-10 one to our benefit.

2 years ago

I agree whole heartedly. I have been saying play the games and ignore the noise!

Jonathan Richter
2 years ago

I agree comparisons can be meaningless. Take the Jacksonville game off our schedule last year and we probably move up in the rankings a fair bit.

I disagree that when you play a team matters. If you played Baltimore at midseason last year you probably got beat. But if you played them after Lamar got hurt the result was probably flipped. I feel like our schedule has lots of little quirks like that.

For example, I like that we have lots of time to get ready for a tough Baltimore game, and that it’s on 9/11 so MetLife stadium should be rocking.
Then we go to Cleveland, who might not have Deshawn Watson, and even if they do, it’s only the 2nd game on a new team and system for him.
Then we get Cincy at home, who we already beat last year, and frankly feels like we beat all the time lately.
Then we go to Pittsburgh who either has Trubisky or rookie Pickett at QB.
Then we get our first division game at home against Miami. It’s only early October, but there is a chance it could get cold, to the detriment of the Fish. This is a MUST WIN game as far as I’m concerned.
We’ve got to just look at the 2-game road trip to Denver and GB as guaranteed losses, which means an upset is a huge coup for our record. GB looks beatable to me, and they will be returning from playing in Munich, Germany the week before, so a split is not impossible.
Then NE and Buffalo at home. I think we can definitely beat NE. They’ve got a new OC, but it will be mid-season by then so they should be getting better. If we pressure Mac Jones, we win.
After the bye we go to NE. Same story, except hopefully the bye helped us more than them.
Bears at home should be an easy win.
Minny on the road could be tough, especially since they will be coming off a Thursday night game, giving them extra rest.
In Buffalo is a loss, especially with them coming off a Thursday night extended rest.
Then we get the Lions at home which we should win. Then the Jaguars at home ON Thursday night, which I think is tougher on the road team, having less prep time.
Then we play in Seattle coming off of our Thursday night rest.
The season finishes in Miami where again we get the advantage of not playing there in September.

8-10 wins, depending on health.