NFL 2020 schedule: Early game-by-game picks for Jets | Will Sam Darnold help Adam Gase keep his job?
What will Sam Darnold do in 2020? James Gilbert/Getty Images
The NFL’s 2020 scheduled is expected to be released late this week.
But we already know the home and road opponents for each team. Just not the order and dates of the games. (And that doesn’t matter as much as the actual opponents anyway.)
So with that in mind, let’s bring you our early game-by-game picks for the Jets, as head coach Adam Gase enters his second season with the organization and quarterback Sam Darnold enters Year 3.
We have a much better idea about how these opponents look, after free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft. So even though we don’t know the complete schedule yet, we can make some fairly educated guesses about how the games will unfold.
• Bills (home): Darnold is 2-1 against his pal Josh Allen through two seasons. Yes, the AFC East has opened up a bit with Tom Brady’s departure from New England. But remember, the Bills are steadily improving — probably more so than the Jets right now. Jets 24, Bills 20
• Bills (road): Orchard Park is never an easy place to play, though the Jets have won their past two games there. The outcome of this one could depend on when in the season it falls, and what the weather looks like. Bills 27, Jets 17
• Patriots (home): No Brady is good news for the Jets, of course. The Patriots still will be a challenge, since that Bill Belichick guy continues to coach them. And remember, even during this brutal stretch for the Jets against New England, they managed to beat the Patriots at home in 2013 and 2015. So they’re due. Maybe? Jets 20, Patriots 17
• Patriots (road): By now, you know the grim numbers: Since winning a 2010 divisional playoff game at the Patriots, the Jets are 2-16 against them (with eight straight losses), including 0-9 in New England. The Jets’ Foxborough misery will continue, even with Brady in Tampa Bay. This Patriots defense is still plenty nasty, after all. Patriots 38, Jets 6
• Dolphins (home): Jets-Dolphins games haven’t made a whole lot of sense in recent years, so of course Tua Tagovailoa will come into MetLife Stadium and beat the Jets this season in a shootout. Dolphins 38, Jets 35
• Dolphins (road): For as bad as the Dolphins have been, the Jets have lost four straight games in Miami, including a couple in haunting fashion. (Overall, the Jets are 2-6 in their last eight games against the Dolphins.) Gase, a former Dolphins coach, will exorcise demons here. The 2020 Jets don’t have many winnable road games. This is one. Jets 31, Dolphins 14
• Broncos (home): Considering how tough the Jets’ road schedule is, Gase needs to take care of business at home. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams should be able to throw some wrinkles at second-year quarterback Drew Lock. Jets 30, Broncos 10
• Raiders (home): It’ll be interesting to see if Derek Carr or Marcus Mariota is playing quarterback for the Raiders. Maybe Mariota can leapfrog Carr, like Ryan Tannehill jumped over a struggling Mariota last season with the Titans. Another fairly winnable home game for the Jets. Gase can’t let these opportunities pass him by, if he wants to keep his job. Jets 21, Raiders 20
• Browns (home): Odell Beckham gets two return trips to MetLife Stadium this season — one against the Jets, one against the Giants — after beating the Jets last season in his first game back in East Rutherford. Beckham will continue to torment Williams, who took a shot at him before last year’s game. Browns 24, Jets 10
• Cardinals (home): Kyler Murray also plays at the Giants and Jets this season. He showed flashes last season as a rookie, but will he be able to handle the Jets’ defense? It was shorthanded last season (no C.J. Mosley) but still finished 10th in DVOA. Jets 20, Cardinals 10
• 49ers (home): Last season’s No. 2 DVOA defense — the Patriots were first — will test Darnold in a big way. The defending NFC champs will push Gase’s offense. This will be a significant game to determine just how much progress Gase and Darnold have made together. 49ers 30, Jets 13
• Chiefs (road): The Jets’ road schedule is daunting, but this is by far the toughest game, against Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champs. There’s no way the Jets are winning this game. Chiefs 49, Jets 10
• Chargers (road): There’s a good chance the Chargers are starting rookie quarterback Justin Herbert over Tyrod Taylor, regardless of when this game happens. That could work in Williams’ favor. His pressure-oriented defense can often rattle a young quarterback. Of the Jets’ five non-division road games, this is by far the easiest. And it’s not like the Chargers are that bad overall. Jets 23, Chargers 16
• Colts (road): Philip Rivers steps in to replace Jacoby Brissett, who replaced Andrew Luck. Rivers looked like an old, declining quarterback last season with the Chargers. But perhaps the Colts — with their impressive offensive line — can give him a boost. We can see this game going either way for the Jets. Pretty big swing game on their schedule. Colts 28, Jets 27
• Rams (road): The Jets have three West Coast trips in 2020 — Rams, Chargers, Seahawks — and it would be a surprise if they won more than one of those games. The Rams’ defense (ninth in DVOA last season) will provide another litmus test for Darnold. Random, specific prediction (because why the heck not?): Jets lose after failing to force overtime — by missing a short field goal as time expires. Rams 21, Jets 18
• Seahawks (road): Just like the Jets absolutely are not winning in Kansas City, they also aren’t going to win this game. We have the Jets going 2-6 on the road in 2020 (wins over the Dolphins and Chargers), though the Buffalo, Indianapolis, and Rams trips are winnable, to varying degrees. Will that be enough to save Gase’s job? Seahawks 45, Jets 3
RECORD PREDICTION: 7-9
ANALYSIS: Gase started last season 1-7, but closed strong, to finish 7-9. The schedule is tougher this season, even with Brady no longer around. Will back-to-back 7-9 seasons — and no playoff trips — in Gase’s first two years with the Jets be enough to save his job? That depends on how much progress Darnold shows in 2020. If 7-9 (with no playoff appearance) happens again for Gase and Darnold this season, the heat will be turned up considerably on both men entering 2021. A playoff appearance — and the end of a 10-year postseason drought — will be expected.
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