With the Jets' 2016 season having reached its conclusion, it's time to officially turn the page. The Green & White have lots of questions that will be answered in the weeks and months ahead, but one thing we are certain of is their 2017 opponents are set.
The schedule will include matchups with AFC West and NFC South foes along with a home date with Jacksonville and a return trip to Cleveland.
The Jets' opponents have a schedule strength of .535 based on their combined 137-119 record this season. That is a nearly identical mark to the .531 (136-120) that their foes had recorded the year before. With both the Patriots and the Dolphins participating in postseason action, the Jets will have seven games against teams coming off playoff appearances. New York's AFC representative will host the NFC South champion Falcons at home and they will visit AFC West titlist Oakland in addition to picking up a visit from wild-card entry Kansas City.
Here is a capsule look at the Jets' 2017 opponents, with 2016 overall and applicable home/road records in parentheses and asterisks denoting playoff teams:
Buffalo Bills (Overall: 7-9, Road 3-5) — Days after relieving Rex Ryan of his head-coaching duties, the Bills finished their season with a 30-10 loss to the Jets as the Green & White swept the season series for the first time since 2011. Will they remove the interim tag from Anthony Lynn and make him the full-time head coach? Also does Tyrod Taylor remain in the club's plans or will the dual-threat QB become a free agent? Veteran RB LeSean "Shady" McCoy, who finished with 1,267 yards on the ground, was the main man on an offense that finished No. 1 in the NFL in rushing.
*Miami Dolphins (Overall: 10-6, Road 4-4) — Bilal Powell displayed his versatility in the Dolphins' visit to MetLife Stadium in December, recording the second-highest offensive output of his career with 164 yards. His career-high 11 catches resulted in 80 yards as he became the first Jets back with at least 10 receptions in a game since Ritchie Anderson in 2000.
*New England Patriots (Overall: 14-2, Road 8-0) — The Patriots, who have captured 14 of the past 16 AFC East titles, have won the division an NFL-record eight consecutive times. The Jets have split their past four games with the Patriots at MetLife Stadium and the two clubs have been separated by three points overall (NYJ: 89, NE: 86).
*Atlanta Falcons (Overall: 11-5, Road 6-2) — The Jets will host the high-flying Falcons for just a sixth time. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan, who became the first player in history to throw touchdowns to 13 different players, may be poised to pick up an MVP award. The Falcons led the NFL in scoring at 33.8 points per game. And these Birds were comfortable outside of the dome this season, compiling a 6-2 road mark.
Carolina Panthers (Overall 6-10, Road 2-6) — A year after representing the NFC in the Super Bowl, the Panthers struggled protecting Cam Newton at times. While Carolina remained stingy against the run defensively, they also had problems defending the pass in the back end. But plenty of talent remains as Ron Rivera will look to get the Cats out of their malaise.
Jacksonville Jaguars (Overall: 3-13, 1-7) — A trendy pick to make an upward move in 2016, the Jaguars didn't turn the corner and are searching for a new head coach. Former Jets RB Chris Ivory battled injuries and wasn't able to get on track in his first season with the Jags. Maryland product Yannick Ngakoue, a third-round pick last April, racked up eight sacks and added four forced fumbles.
*Kansas City Chiefs (Overall: 12-4. 6-2) — Last September, the Jets turned the ball over eight times in a 24-3 loss to the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. But New York's AFC representative has captured their last three home contests vs. the Chiefs including a 37-10 smackdown in 2011, which was the clubs' only meeting at MetLife Stadium.
San Diego Chargers (Overall: 5-11, 2-6) — It's possible that the Chargers played their final game in San Diego against the Chiefs in Week 17. Whether they relocate to Los Angeles or not, the Bolts will make the cross-country trip to visit the Jets in 2017. Seemingly every week, the Chargers were locked in a close game as they lost nine decisions by a touchdown or less. Philip Rivers remains a dangerous gunslinger.
The 2017 Opponents for the Green & White
Buffalo Bills (Overall: 7-9, 4-4) — The* *Jets offense was unstoppable in their last visit to Orchard Park, amassing 496 yards in a 37-31 shootout victory. After catching seven balls in the season opener vs. the Bengals, 2016 breakout performer Quincy Enunwa came back with six receptions for 92 yards in Buffalo including a couple of tone-setters early.
*Miami Dolphins (Overall: 10-6, 6-2) — For the first time since 2008, the Dolphins are a playoff team. Second-year RB Jay Ajayi became a force behind a vastly improved offense line, topping the 200-yard mark on three occasions. The ageless Cameron Wake racked up 11.5 sacks in regular-season action.
New England Patriots (Overall: 14-2, 6-2) — The Pats only* finished 6-2 at home this season, but one of those defeats came when third-stringer Jacoby Brissett was at the offensive controls. Despite not having TE Rob Gronkowski down the stretch, Tom Brady played spectacular football and finished with a TD-INT margin of 28-2.
Cleveland Browns (Overall: 1-15, 1-7) — After a listless first half, the Jets used a 24-point second-half run to take down the Browns in Cleveland back in Week 8. The Jets shut the door late with interceptions from OLB Lorenzo Mauldin and S Marcus Gilchrist. Both clubs will look to add impact players early in April's draft. While the Browns have the top overall selection, the Green & White own the No. 6 pick in Round 1.
Denver Broncos (Overall: 9-7, 5-3) — Trevor Siemian was the Broncos starting QB in 2016, but could Paxton Lynch take over the offensive controls in 2017? The Broncos had a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and OLB Von Miller (13.5 sacks) is widely considered the league's best pass rusher. A year removed from winning the Super Bowl, head coach Gary Kubiak retired from coaching.
New Orleans Saints (Overall: 7-9, 4-4) — Drew Brees keeps firing away in the Bayou as he just completed his fifth 5,000-yard passing season. His accuracy is uncanny and the Saints led the NFL in passing in 2016. But the Saints, who got 7.5 sacks from DE Cameron Jordan, didn't find many answers on the other side of the ball while surrendering 28.4 points per game. The Jets have triumphed in three of their previous five meetings at the Superdome.
*Oakland Raiders (Overall: 12-4, 6-2) — The Raiders have one of the most dynamic young pairs in football with QB Derek Carr and OLB Khalil Mack. Before breaking his fibula in Week 16, Carr passed for 3,937 yards with 28 TDs and 6 INTs. Mack is a game-changer on defense, having registered 26 sacks the past two seasons.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Overall: 9-7, 4-4) — Tampa can point to its home record as to why it missed the playoffs. Mike Evans (96-1,321-12TD) is Jameis Winston's favorite target at receiver, DT Gerald McCoy anchors the defensive line and talented CB Vernon Hargreaves is starting to take some strides on the outside. The Jets lead the all-time series 10-1 and have won the past three as guests.