The Jets' opponents list for next season, which had been mostly in view late in the season, was firmed up with the determination Sunday evening of the Denver Broncos as the AFC West's fourth-place team and thus as the mile-high host of a game with the Jets in 2021.
The Green & White just finished a tough grind in 2020 with an overall strength of schedule of .594 that was the strongest in the NFL this year, with a non-division schedule strength of .575. The '21 opponents come in a still challenging but more favorable .502 SOS — due to the Bills' and Dolphins' resurgence in the AFC East — and a non-division schedule strength of .432.
The opponents will include all AFC South and NFC South teams and 2020 standings position games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Broncos as well as the usual division sixpack. The NFL could make a decision in the offseason to add a 17th game to all teams' schedules. The full schedules for all teams are usually announced in April.
Until then, here are thumbnails on the Jets' 16 games against their 13 different opponents for the new season (2020 records in parentheses):
vs. Buffalo (13-3)
This is a good game to let the Bills know they're not going to take another AFC East crown without a fight. In 2020 the Jets lost to Buffalo 18-10 despite not giving up a TD. A win would even the series at the Jets home at 31-31 (including playoffs).
vs. Miami (10-6)
The Jets lost to the Dolphins twice this past year, both times to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Now Tua Tagovailoa is expected to get his shot. Since 2015 at MetLife, Jets have won in the odd years, 'Fins in the even years. It's the Jets' turn in '21.
vs. New England (7-9)
Who'll be the QB who throws the ball to Julian Edelman & Co. on the Patriots? The Green & White would love to return to the period from 2009-2015, when they defeated New England in 4 of 7 meetings in the Meadowlands.
vs. Jacksonville (1-15)
The Jaguars will come to North Jersey with their first overall pick of the draft (unless they trade it away) to tangle with the Jets and their second overall pick (unless they trade it away). Jets have won their last three at home vs. Jags, including by 23-20 in OT in 2017.
vs. Tennessee (11-5)
Ryan Tannehill, 5-5 as Miami's QB starter vs. the Jets from 2012-18 (and 4-1 at MetLife), is set to face the Green & White for the first time as Tennessee's signal-caller. The Jets are 7-4 overall and 3-0 at home vs. the Titans since they relocated from Houston.
vs. New Orleans (12-4)
Drew Brees, Mike Thomas and the Saints can seem unstoppable. But the Jets stopped Brees, at least, in the teams' last MetLife meeting in 2013, when they took the lead late in the first half and never gave it up in their 26-20 conquest. But will Brees return to the field or head for the broadcast booth?
vs. Tampa Bay (11-5)
After a year off, the Green & White can run into Tom Brady and Steve Gronkowski again in this interconference battle. Buccaneers are the only team the Jets have never lost to at home and they hold a 10-2 advantage in all games.
vs. Cincinnati (4-11-1)
Joe Burrow should be back from knee rehab in time to take on the Jets in '21. Whoever the QB, the Jets would like to post their first home win over the Bengals since Thanksgiving night 2010, when Brad Smith's chunk plays outdid Carson Palmer's veteran presence in the Jets' 26-10 win.
at Buffalo (13-3)
Josh Allen, Jerry Hughes & Co. are hard to beat but Jets have been competitive at Bills Stadium since 2016, winning 3 of 5 and coming back in this year's opener before losing 27-17. But they've been outgained in those 5 games by 402 yards so they have their work cut out.
at Miami (10-6)
The Green & White will be intent on ending their 5-game losing skid to the Aqua & Coral at Hard Rock Stadium. Last Jets road win over Miami was 27-14 in London in 2015. Last Jets road win in Miami Gardens: 37-24 in 2014 season finale.
at New England (7-9)
As LB Neville Hewitt said after Sunday's 28-14 fall-from-ahead loss, "This is a hard place to win." And how. At least the Jets got their largest second-half lead in a decade at Gillette Stadium but Jets fans sure feel it's time for a New England road win.
at Houston (4-12)
Deshaun Watson and the Texans were competitive in midseason but opened with 4 losses and closed with 5 L's in a row. This year they'll be lying in wait for the Jets, who had their way in this series by winning the first 5 before dropping the last 3.
at Indianapolis (11-5)
Whether it's Philip Rivers (who may retire) or Jacoby Brissett or another QB at Indy's helm, the Jets have done well at the Colts. Yes, they fell at Lucas Oil this year 36-7 and lost 3 turnovers. But they've won 4 of their last 7 in Indy and have a plus-27 TO margin in 38 road games.
at Denver (5-11)
This year at MetLife the Jets nearly got their first win in Game 4 before falling to Denver 37-28. Two years ago at home they ran roughshod over the Broncos. Their last win a mile high, though, came in 2010, a last-minute 24-20 comeback.
at Atlanta (4-12)
Matt Ryan and the Falcons were a tough-luck team in 2020, with 8 of their 12 losses coming in one-score games. The Jets will play at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the first time, not counting their 2019 preseason visit, when they topped the Falcons 22-10.
at Carolina (5-10)
The Jets helped Teddy Bridgewater rehab and transition in 2018 from the Vikings starter to a Saints backup and then to the Panthers' starter last year. In 2021 they'd like to harass him and win at Carolina for the first time since 2001 — the 13-12 "Shrek Game."