Three home primetime games on national TV in a four-week span. Five primetime games in all. Six road games in the first nine weeks. One AFC East game in the first eight weeks. Games on Christmas Eve and New Year's Day.
In short, the New York Jets' 2016 schedule is one of the most unusual skeds in franchise history.
Unusual isn't necessarily bad in the Jets' case. But it is weird and wonderful, and a reason for that sure seems to be that the Jets have become one of the NFL's marquee teams again. Not to mention one of its more tweet-worthy. (We'll explain below.)
How else to explain all those night games?
■ Game 2 at Buffalo (in the Bills' home opener) on Thursday night, Sept. 15, follows in the footsteps of the teams' Thursday nighter last Nov. 29 at MetLife Stadium. And again the division foes will make history. Last year it was because they were the first teams to wear their NFL Nike Color Rush Thursday night uniforms, the Jets in Kelly green and the Bills in red.
This time the teams will do battle in the same unis, and they will also be playing the first game to be carried to fans via the Twitterverse. This season, the NFL will use a "Tri-Cast" distribution model of broadcast (CBS/NBC), cable (NFL Network) and digital (Twitter) for 10 Thursday Night Football games. The network broadcasts will be simulcast on NFL Network and streamed to a global audience across devices for free on Twitter. And it all begins in Week 2.
■ Game 6 at the Cardinals on Monday night, Oct. 17, will be not only the Jets' first primetime game in Arizona (they did play the Cards at St. Louis on MNF in '71) but also head coach Todd Bowles' return to University of Phoenix Stadium, where he served as the Cards' defensive coordinator in '13-14.
■ Game 11 at home against New England on Nov. 27 will be that week's Sunday Night Football game. Jets-Patriots ... enough said.
■ Game 12, the very next week against Indianapolis, will also be at MetLife Stadium and will be the ESPN Monday night game on Dec. 5. And yes, this will be the first time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger that the Green & White have played back-to-back home primetime games.
■ Two weeks later, Game 14 will pit the Jets at home against the Dolphins in a Saturday night NFL Network game. The last time the Jets played three home night games? In 2010 and '11. How about three home night games in a four-week span? That would be 1964, when the Jets routinely played their AFL games on Saturday nights and had four in a five-week span.
And five primetime games in all? That's happened only twice before since the Sixties, in 2010 and '11.
Had enough yet? We hope not, because there's more of this weird and wonderful schedule:
Opening at Home on 9/11
For the seventh straight season the Jets will open at home, the longest current NFL streak. This time the lidlifter is against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the game will be on Sept. 11, 1 p.m. kickoff. The NFL will observe the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks during the game.
"I'm really excited that the schedule has been released because it means the season is that much closer," said Jets C Nick Mangold. "It is truly an honor to open the season at home, at MetLife Stadium, on the 15th anniversary of 9/11. I know that will be an emotional time for everyone, as it was in 2011." The Jets posted an emotional 27-24 comeback win over the Cowboys in that 10th anniversary game.
The Green & White have opened against the Bengals twice before, most recently in 2004, when they prevailed, 31-24.
Loading Up on Playoff Foes
The Jets have seven games this year against teams that went to the playoffs last year. The NFL must think Bowles' team can take it, because the league loaded up five of those games in the first six weeks. After Cincinnati (and Buffalo in Week 2) come games at Kansas City (Sept. 25), home for Seattle (Oct. 2), at Pittsburgh (Oct. 9), and at Arizona. Combined schedule strength of those first six opponents: a mere .667 (64-32).
Home Sweet Home
That's what the Green & White will be saying after three straight cycles of one home game followed by two road games through Nov. 6. Believe it or not, the Jets used to have such lopsided schedules, back in 1973 and '76, when they shared Shea Stadium with the Mets.
New Names, New Venues
The Jets haven't played in Arizona since '04 and never in University of Phoenix Stadium. They will play the Browns for the first time at FirstEnergy Stadium (originally Cleveland Browns Stadium, where they have played) on Oct. 30. They haven't played the Los Angeles Rams (home, Nov. 13) since 1992. They haven't played at San Fran since '08, and Dec. 11 will mark their first game ever at Levi's Stadium.
The game in San Fran comes barely six days after the Jets' home Monday nighter vs. the Colts. Tough turnaround.
Special Days on the Calendar
Because Christmas falls on a Sunday, most NFL games will be played Saturday, Dec. 24, including the Jets' rematch against the Patriots, at Gillette Stadium in a 1 p.m. kickoff. It will be the Jets' sixth Christmas Eve game.
Teams will play on Sunday, Jan. 1, including the Jets' return engagement with the Bills at MetLife, again at 1 p.m. And you know after coming up short at "the Ralph" in last year's finale, the Jets and their fans would love to have a chance at playoff redemption against Rex Ryan and the gang in this year's finale. It will be the Jets' third New Year's Day game, with their first one perhaps a harbinger — a 30-26 home victory over the Bills in 2005.
Big Games Down the Stretch
After playing only the Bills in the first half of the season, the Jets will receive their last five AFC East tests in the last eight games — at Miami (Nov. 6), vs. New England (Nov. 27 after the bye week), home for Miami (Dec. 17), at the Patriots (Dec. 24), and at the Bills (Jan. 1). One thing's for sure: The Jets will be battle-tested this season. // <