The Jets' just-released 2019 schedule is a little different than in recent Aprils. The Patriots and the bye week come early, the Thursday night game comes later than ever, and as we mentioned at the start of this week, the road portion of the schedule is the shortest in franchise history. Here are six key questions and answers that cover the Jets' 16 foes in '19, from Buffalo (on Sept. 8) to Buffalo (on Dec. 29):
What happened in the past when the Jets opened a season at home against the Bills?
Good things. The first game in franchise history was the New York Titans vs. the Bills at the old Polo Grounds on a rainy Sept. 11, 1960, with the Jets coming away 27-3 winners. The only other season opener at home against the Bills came in 2012, a rousing 48-28 triumph. Also worth noting: The Jets have received their eighth SOHO (season opener/home opener) in the last 10 years. Their record in the first seven of those games is 5-2.
What's the history when the Jets opened a season with two home games?
Surprisingly, that hasn't happened often in the previous 59 years. In that inaugural AFL season, the Titans got their first three games at home and went 2-1 en route to 7-7. It didn't happen again until the Jets' first two games in their first season in then-named New Meadowlands Stadium in 2010, when they went 1-1 to start their second straight AFC Championship Game season. The next year, in the first two games of '11, they scored a rousing 9/11 Sunday night comeback win over Dallas and a rout of Jacksonville to start an 8-8 campaign. And that's it.
Take a Closer Look at the 2019 Schedule Presented by JetBlue
Where are the AFC East games?
Sprinkled far and wide on the schedule. The Jets not only open with the Bills at home but close with them at New Era Field. It's only the third time in franchise history they've opened and closed with the same opponent (others: 2012 with the Bills, 2008 with the Dolphins). The Patriots games are in Weeks 3 and 7 — the first time the division foes have wrapped up their home-and-home series in the first half of the schedule since 2013. And the Miami matchups with the Adam Gase subplots will be Weeks 9 and 14.
What's the toughest stretch of the schedule?
Undoubtedly Games 3-6, a Patriots sandwich with NFC East stuffing. The Jets are at New England on Sept. 22 — their earliest game at Gillette Stadium since Week 2 in 2013 — then finish that four-game stretch at home against the Patriots on Monday night, Oct. 21 — the Jets' first home MNF game vs. the Pats since 2005. In between are Game 4 at the Eagles on Oct. 6 and Game 5 at home vs. Dallas on Oct. 13. All four opponents were playoff teams and had a composite .641 winning percentage in 2018. Softening the blow just a little is the Jets' Week 4 bye, their earliest since getting Week 3 off in 2004.
What's the easiest stretch?
Of course all NFL opponents are tough, but immediately following the four-game crusher above come seven consecutive games against 2018 sub-.500 teams, combined SOS an astonishing .366 (41-71). The stretch begins with a pair of Florida trips — at Jacksonville (5-11) on Oct. 27 and at Miami (7-9) on Nov. 3. Then it's home for the Giants (5-11), at Washington (7-9), home vs. Oakland (4-12), at Cincinnati (6-10) and home vs. the Dolphins. What's more, all seven games are 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.
What's a hidden key to success in this schedule?
Other than surviving in Weeks 3-7 and thriving in 8-14, a very important four games will be the Jets' late AFC East/AFC North bloc. They'll have a home game vs. the Dolphins on Dec. 8, then need to regroup on a short week to take on the Ravens on Thursday night. Then they'll have 10 days to recover before hosting Pittsburgh, always tough but perhaps weakened with the departures of offensive playmakers Le'Veon Bell to the Jets and Antonio Brown to the Raiders. Finally comes the season finale at the Bills. Faring well in this last quarter may well position them for a return to postseason play. Not faring well ... may not.