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Jets' 2020 Schedule: Long Road, Stiff Challenges Ahead

West Coast-Flavored Slate with 49ers at Home, Seahawks, Chargers & Rams Away


One of the most awaited sidebars to accompany every NFL team's last regular-season game is the big reveal on the next season's schedule.

Actually, with only two position-dependent opponents for each team, there aren't many secrets before all of today's final scores are posted. In the Jets' case, we knew they would be following up this year's shortest road schedule in franchise history with a long itinerary away from home next year. Now we know how long.

With Tennessee's win at Houston locking up second place in the AFC South early Sunday evening, Indianapolis was locked into third place in the division even before the Colts lost at Jacksonville. Thus, the Colts are the final road team in the 2020 schedule puzzle for the Jets, the third-place team in the AFC East.

First the home sked. It includes the Jets' three AFC East foes, two from the AFC West, the third-place team in the AFC South (the Browns again), and two teams from their NFC rotation partners, the NFC West.

Thus the home schedule, with this year's final records in parentheses (including San Francisco, which finished up the Week 17 schedule with a last-second survival under the lights in Seattle), shakes out like this:

Buffalo (10-6, playoff team)
Miami (5-11)
New England (12-4, playoff team)
Denver (7-9)
Oakland (7-9)
Cleveland (6-10)
Arizona (5-10-1)
San Francisco (13-3, playoff team)

The combined strength of schedule is 65-62-1, a .512 winning percentage.

Now for that long, winding road, again showing all final records in parentheses (except for Seattle):

Buffalo (10-6, playoff team)
Miami (5-11)
New England (12-4, playoff team)
Kansas City (12-4, playoff team)
Los Angeles Chargers (5-11)
Indianapolis (7-9)
Los Angeles Rams (9-7)
Seattle (11-5, playoff team)

This road schedule is tough and not just because of the Jets-lagging air miles that will be logged by the Green & White. Their road opponents' strength of schedule is even tougher than the home slate at 71-57 (.555 winning percentage).

Now for those mileage details. This year's away schedule, at roughly 6,688 round-trip miles, checked in as the shortest road sked in franchise history. In 2020, the opposite will happen as the eight trips, with three to the state of California, will come in at 21,100 round-trip miles, which is the second-most road miles in franchise history, behind only the 24,400 miles in 2008.

In fact, in part because of the four West Coast trips that both the Jets and Patriots drew in '08, the NFL tinkered with its AFC/NFC rotation formulas, thus preventing any team from drawing more than three West Coast trips in a season. But this is the year for the Jets to take those three trips — one to Seattle and, after not visiting Los Angeles since playing the Rams in 1992 and the Raiders in '93, two trips to La La Land, to play the Chargers and Rams.

Add it up and the Jets have a strong 2020 schedule strength of .533, with seven games against 2019 playoff teams (four in the AFC East, of course, in the home-and-homes vs. New England and Buffalo). It's a stern 16-game test, but the Jets, after finishing strong in the second half of 2019, give the impression they will be an improved squad ready to take on the challenge beginning next September.

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