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The NY Jets’ path to an AFC East championship in 2024

NY Jets, HC, Robert Saleh, Mike McDaniel, AFC East
Robert Saleh, Mike McDaniel, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, AFC East, Getty Images

Here’s the New York Jets’ blueprint for winning the division in 2024

The New York Jets are thinking big picture in 2024. It’s not just about making the playoffs but going to the Super Bowl. However, for that to happen, the easiest path forward is to win the AFC East and finish with the highest seed possible in the AFC playoffs.

The Jets have won the AFC East just twice in their history — in 1998 and 2002. That’s the fewest division titles among any team in the post-1970 merger era. All of their postseason runs since then have come on the road, including in 2009-10.

To add another division title to the picture, the Jets can follow a specific blueprint. In 2023, 11-6 was a good enough record to win the division, but it ended in a tiebreaker for Buffalo over Miami. That means the Jets should view 12 victories as a baseline expectation in order to win the AFC East.

Looking at their schedule, what’s the Jets’ path to 12 wins?

Go at least 4-2 in the division without being swept

As I explained in a previous article, the Jets haven’t managed to break even in their division since 2015. The last time they had a winning record in the AFC East was in 2010, also the last time they made the playoffs. They must find a way to go 4-2 in the division. It’s time to finally sweep the Patriots and at least split with the other two teams. Even going 4-2 but getting swept by either Miami or Buffalo would put them in a worse position in the division.

The Jets have split with Buffalo in each of the past two seasons, making that a likely outcome once more. However, they’ll need to figure out how to stop Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and the Dolphins’ running game in order to avoid another sweep in 2024. They lost the two matchups with Miami by a combined 64-13 margin.

Beat 2023 sub-.500 teams from outside division

The Jets face four bad non-divisional teams from 2023: the Cardinals, Broncos, Titans, and Vikings. There’s no excuse for them to lose any of these games. Arizona, Tennessee, and Denver have three of the least talented rosters in the NFL. Minnesota and Denver have quarterback competitions between putrid Jets castoffs and uncertain rookies. Kyler Murray hasn’t looked like a good quarterback in at least three years.

Go 4-0 against these four teams.

Go at least 2-1 vs. 2023 mediocre teams

The Jaguars and Seahawks were largely disappointing in 2023 but hope for rebound seasons in 2024. Both have quarterbacks with uncertain futures: Trevor Lawrence hasn’t played anywhere near the “generational” talent he was supposed to be, and Geno Smith came back to earth. The Colts eked their way to 9-8 with Gardner Minshew starting but don’t know exactly what they have in Anthony Richardson.

The Jets can certainly win all three of these games, but for the AFC East plan to be on track, they need to go at least 2-1 in these games. They lost to the Jaguars and Seahawks in 2022 with Zach Wilson and the medically challenged Mike White, but Aaron Rodgers should be able to propel them to victory in these games.

Go at least 2-2 vs. 2023 non-divisional playoff teams

The Jets face the Steelers, Rams, 49ers, and Texans in 2024. In those games, the Jets should be definitive underdogs only against the 49ers. As much Super Bowl hype as the Texans are generating, the Jets are perfectly positioned to stymie C.J. Stroud — as they did in 2023.

The Steelers belong in the latter category as a mediocre team, but they backed their way into the playoffs. Still, their quarterback room includes one player on the downswing of his career and another who’s never learned how to be a passer. They have a porous secondary and a thin receiving corps and generally lack starpower on offense. This is not a much better Pittsburgh team than the one the Jets beat in 2022 (although T.J. Watt’s presence obviously makes a big difference).

The Rams are hard to figure out. Matthew Stafford was a below-average passer in the first half of the 2023 season and a well above-average one in the second half. Their offense has many weapons, including Puca Nacua, Cooper Kupp, and 2023 breakout star running back Kyren Williams. At the same time, despite all the money they spent on upgrading their offensive line, they have two mediocre players on the left side in Alaric Jackson and Jonah Jackson. Their defense consists of sophomore standout defensive lineman Kobie Turner, strong safety Kamren Curl, and a bunch of no-name players who are mid at best. Sean McVay’s gap scheme could hurt the Jets’ defense, but nonetheless, they should be able to score with ease against the Rams.

To round out the schedule plan, the Jets should go at least 2-2 against these four playoff teams. They have a good chance to go 3-1. Given that the 49ers are a likely loss, though, I’ll give them a second defeat to be conservative.

How likely?

None of these situations are unreasonable or even unlikely if Rodgers remains healthy — the million-dollar question. The only games in which the Jets are currently betting underdogs (via DraftKings) are in San Francisco in Week 1 (+5.5), in Miami in Week 14 (+1), and in Buffalo in Week 17 (+2.5). That doesn’t mean Vegas necessarily expects the Jets to win 14 games, as their over/under is 9.5.

Still, NFL.com ranked the Jets’ roster the 1oth-most complete in the NFL — and the only opponents ahead of them are San Francisco (No. 1) and Houston (No. 7). ESPN’s Mike Clay went even further, ranking them the second-best roster in the league, trailing only the 49ers. Given these rankings, the above path to 12-5 is eminently reasonable.

I’ll leave my final win-loss rankings to my season preview article in early September, but I think the Jets can win 12 games for the first time since 1998.

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15 days ago

Great blueprint, of course as the season goes on there will be some trade-offs I’m sure. I’d say that “2-2 vs. Non divisional Playoff teams” needs to include at least 1 win vs. AFC opponents. Ideally, let’s say they do go 2-2, the wins would be Steelers and Houston, and the losses SF, and Rams. It’s likely they will need tie breakers vs. Pitt and Hou.

Last edited 15 days ago by Jets71