The New York Jets have known all but one of their 2021 opponents since the minute this past season concluded. They found out their last one, the Philadelphia Eagles, back in March, when the NFL expanded its season from 16 games to 17.
Wednesday night’s schedule release is merely an ordering of those known commodities, but with the NFL Draft in the rear view and the season still months away, why not get excited about the prospect of some Jets football?
Notable matchups include a Week 1 showdown with Sam Darnold and the Carolina Panthers, a trip across the pond to take on the Atlanta Falcons in London and the lone primetime matchup, as the Jets travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts on Thursday night.
Here is the full slate of New York’s 17-game season:
Week 1: @ Panthers
Sunday, Sept. 12, 1:00 pm (CBS)
Not since Darnold’s Monday night showdown with the Lions in 2018 have the Jets had a more highly anticipated season opener. Three years later, Darnold will get his chance at revenge as he takes on his successor in what will be Zach Wilson’s NFL debut. The most important storyline for New York, though, will be starting 1-0 in the Robert Saleh era. Facing a Panthers team coming off a 5-11 season a year ago gives New York a great chance to do just that.
Week 2: vs. Patriots
Sunday, Sept. 19, 1:00 pm (CBS)
The Jets will head into their home opener looking to defeat Bill Belichick and the Patriots for the first time since Ryan Fitzpatrick did so back in 2015. New England is coming off a one-year playoff hiatus with a lot of new faces from both free agency and the draft, but will we see Mac Jones this early?
Week 3: @ Broncos
Sunday, Sept. 26, 4:05 pm (CBS)
In a rematch of last year’s Thursday night showdown that saw Sam Darnold pick up a 46-yard touchdown run and a shoulder injury, the Jets will travel to Mile High to take on the Broncos. It will be a semi-homecoming for Wilson, who at the very least should have no trouble adjusting to the altitude in Denver.
Week 4: vs. Titans
Sunday, Oct. 3, 1:00 pm (CBS)
This will be the first major test of Robert Saleh’s defense. Is the front seven strong enough to slow down Derrick Henry at all? Can whoever becomes New York’s top corner stop AJ Brown and limit the damage in the passing game?
Week 5: @ Falcons (London)
Sunday, Oct. 10, 9:30 am (NFL Network)
The Jets will fly across the Atlantic to Woody Johnson’s old stomping grounds in their second ever London game. Their first featured a 27-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins back in 2015 that saw Chris Ivory rush for 166 yards and a touchdown.
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: @ Patriots
Sunday, Oct. 24, 1:00 pm (CBS)
Two games with the Patriots before we reach November means there probably won’t be any snow-filled matchups in this rivalry. Coming off a bye and heading into a rematch, this will be as good a time as any for Saleh to show what kind of adjustments his team can make. New York’s last win in Foxborough came in the Divisional Round of the 2010 playoffs.
Week 8: vs. Bengals
Sunday, Oct. 31, 1:00 pm (CBS)
Heading back home, the Jets will already face their fourth team to win five games or fewer a year ago, highlighting a relatively light first couple months. This matchup — as well as much of Cincinnati’s season — will largely hinge on the health of Joe Burrow, and when he will return from the torn ACL he suffered in Week 11 of the 2020 season.
Week 9: @ Colts
Thursday, Nov. 4, 8:20 pm (FOX)
Barring any flexes in the schedule, this will be New York’s only primetime game of the season, and it comes against Indianapolis and its new signal-caller in Carson Wentz. The Jets have won four of their last six matchups with the Colts, as well as the team’s most celebrated game in history a mere 52 years ago.
Week 10: vs. Bills
Sunday, Nov. 15, 1:00 pm (CBS)
The new kings of the East will make their way into Metlife in what will likely be the toughest team the Jets will play up to this point. A win over Buffalo would narrow the gap in the division and provide a much-needed kickstart to the second half of the schedule.
Week 11: vs. Dolphins
Sunday, Nov. 22, 1:00 pm (CBS)
The Jets get to stay at home for their second consecutive division matchup, this time against the upstart Dolphins. Both teams believe they’ve found their young franchise quarterbacks, and this could be the first of many Tua vs. Wilson matchups in the AFC East.
Week 12: @ Texans
Sunday, Nov. 29, 1:00 pm (CBS)
Just three months ago, there were serious rumors of a blockbuster trade that could make Deshaun Watson the Jets’ new starting quarterback. Now, it’s not so clear he’ll be quarterbacking anyone in 2021. If he’s not, the Texans will likely be amongst the league’s worst teams and easiest opponents.
Week 13: vs. Eagles
Sunday, Dec. 6, 1:00 pm (CBS)
A late addition to the schedule when the NFL switched from 16 to 17 games, the Jets will host an Eagles team that also abandoned its former franchise quarterback hopeful this offseason. This might prove to be New York’s best chance to notch its first ever win against Philadelphia, as the franchise currently sits at 0-11 all-time.
Week 14: vs. Saints
Sunday, Dec. 13, 1:00 pm (FOX)
The Jets might be facing a team with a new face at quarterback for the third straight week, as the Drew Brees era in New Orleans came to an end last season. Still, this is a roster devoid of many holes, and could pose problems for New York as it prepares for its gauntlet down the stretch.
Week 15: @ Dolphins
The Jets will get some warm weather in December as they head down to Miami to take on the first of three consecutive Florida teams. This isn’t likely to be a matchup with playoff implications for New York with a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback, but New York could certainly play spoiler for the Dolphins.
Week 16: vs. Jaguars
Sunday, Dec. 27, 1:00 pm (CBS)
Zach Wilson vs. Trevor Lawrence will capture all the headlines in the week leading up to this matchup. Last year, the Jets' dreams of Trevor Lawrence in green and white were crushed for good. Hopefully by late December, New York isn’t still regretting those late victories.
Week 17: vs. Buccaneers
Sunday, Jan. 2, 1:00 pm (FOX)
The Jets will host Tom Brady for the first time in a Bucs uniform when the defending Super Bowl Champs roll into town. It will also be the first time that Todd Bowles will coach against his former team after revitalizing his career in Tampa Bay. And don’t forget ex-Jet Steve McLendon in the middle of the defensive line.
Week 18: @ Bills
Sunday, Jan. 9, 1:00 pm (CBS)
The Jets have become accustomed to taking on Buffalo in the final game of the season. The Bills crushed New York’s playoff hopes back in 2015. If they even have the chance to do that again, this season can be chalked up as a complete success for Saleh. If not, perhaps the Jets will get the opportunity to exact revenge.
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