The New York Jets are a complete mess right now. Quarterback Mark Sanchez is on the shelf with a shoulder injury, and Geno Smith looked awful in the third preseason game, but is starting Week 1 out of necessity.
Beyond even the quarterback situation, New York has plenty of other problems. The Jets don't have a single playmaker on offense with Santonio Holmes still recovering from his Lisfranc injury. Defensively, New York has some talent with corner Antonio Cromartie, linebacker David Harris and defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson, but will that be enough to keep it out of the AFC East cellar?
The Jets have the 19th hardest strength of schedule, but some of the opponents that stunk last year appear better this time around. The Carolina Panthers were 7-9 in 2012 but could be a playoff team this year with the continued maturation of Cam Newton. The Miami Dolphins also should be improved after adding a bevy of free agents.
Here's a closer look at New York's 2013 schedule:
|1||Sept.8||vs. Tampa Bay
|2||Sept.12||at New England
|3||Sept. 22||vs. Buffalo||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|4||Sept. 29||at Tennessee
|5||Oct. 7||at Atlanta
|6||Oct. 13||vs. Pittsburgh||1 p.m.||CBS|
|7||Oct. 20||vs. New England
||at Cincinnati||4 p.m.||CBS|
|9||Nov. 3||vs. New Orleans
|11||Nov. 17||at Buffalo||1 p.m.||CBS|
|12||Nov. 24||at Baltimore
|13||Dec. 1||vs. Miami||1 p.m.||CBS|
|14||Dec. 8||vs. Oakland||1 p.m.||CBS|
|15||Dec. 16||at Carolina||4 p.m.||CBS|
|16||Dec. 22||vs. Cleveland||1 p.m.||CBS|
|17||Dec. 29||at Miami||1 p.m.||CBS|
Toughest Out: New England Patriots
Nobody has more ire for the Jets than Bill Belichick and the Patriots. In a season where the skill level is simply not there for New York, the sympathy won't be flowing from Foxboro. Week 2 could be especially ugly with the game coming on the road. To beat New England, you have to be able to score in the high 20s or low 30s, something the Jets don't seem able to do without a lot of help.
Must win: Buffalo Bills
The Bills are a decent team, but one without an established quarterback. Perhaps Rex Ryan can use his defensive mind to force some poor play out of either Jeff Tuel or EJ Manuel in Week 3, creating turnovers and some better field position. New York has to have this game considering its at home and the schedule on either side of this one. Should this be a loss, the Jets could conceivably be looking at being winless until November.
Don't Overlook: Cleveland Browns
Cleveland might finish last in the AFC North, but not because they can't play. The Browns have a very solid defense with studs like Paul Kruger, Jabaal Sheard and Joe Haden. They also have a new regime with head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who can really coach an offense. Turner will have Brandon Weeden throwing for plenty of yardage in his second season.
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