Once again, the New York Jets will be a young team, possibly with a rookie at quarterback. It always helps a young team when it can jump out to a positive start, and this schedule gives them a chance to survive September. While playing three of the first four games on the road isn't ideal, it's hardly a murderous stretch. If the Jets emerge 2-2 or 3-1, they can still feel good about themselves as they head into a three-game homestand in October. The finish is rough -- Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady in back-to-back weeks -- but they probably will be out of playoff contention before then.
Now for the game-by-game predictions:
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 10, at Detroit Lions, 7:10 p.m. ET
The Jets are back on the Monday night stage after a one-year hiatus, opening on the road for the second straight year. This will be the head-coaching debut of former New England Patriots assistant Matt Patricia, who is familiar with the Jets' scheme and personnel. The big question: Who will be the Jets' starting quarterback? Josh McCown? Teddy Bridgewater? Baker Mayfield? It won't matter; the Lions have too much firepower. Record: 0-1.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, vs. Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET
Some of the familiar names in the rivalry are gone -- Ndamukong Suh, Jarvis Landry, Mike Pouncey, et al. One-year rental Jay Cutler is gone, too, which really bums out the Jets because they controlled him for six quarters last season until an injury knocked him out of the lineup and they the Jets apart against Matt Moore. This time, there will be no fourth-quarter collapse. Record: 1-1.
Week 3: Thursday, Sept. 20, at Cleveland Browns, 8:20 p.m. ET
A Jets-Browns game in prime time? Oy. The Jets own the Browns. Then again, doesn't everybody? Coach Todd Bowles is 3-0 against them and 17-25 against the rest of the league. Make it 4-0. Led by ex-Browns Isaiah Crowell and Terrelle Pryor, the Jets will find a way to squeeze past their much-improved opponent. Record: 2-1.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET
The Jets will be rested, coming off a mini-bye, but this still is a tough matchup. The Jaguars are loaded on defense, with playmakers on all three levels. The Jets will have a hard time, you know, scoring (unless they get some help from Blake Bortles). Record: 2-2.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, vs. Denver Broncos, 1 p.m. ET
Objective No. 1: Score. The Jets failed to do that last December in a miserable 23-0 loss at Mile High Stadium. The Broncos still have a formidable defense, and they'll be better at quarterback with Case Keenum over last season's motley crew. Another tough day for the Jets. Record: 2-3.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, vs. Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET
Andrew Luck and his surgically repaired throwing shoulder should be rounding into form by now, but it won't help the Colts, who will suffer through a rebuilding season. This should be an easy win for the Jets. Record: 3-3.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, vs. Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m. ET
You think Kirk Cousins will get heckled by the Jets crowd at MetLife Stadium? Cousins snubbed the Jets in free agency, taking less money to play for Minnesota. He made the right decision, but that won't stop the fans from booing. This also marks the return of Sheldon Richardson, who joins a loaded defense that will shut down the Jets. Record: 3-4.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. ET
Pardon Bowles if he feels a little old. He has known new Bears coach Matt Nagy, 39, since Nagy was a toddler. You see, Nagy's father, Bill, was a coach on Bowles' high school team in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Matt was a 2-year-old spectator when Elizabeth, led by Bowles, played for the state championship in 1980 at Giants Stadium. In this game, age prevails over youth. Record: 4-4.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET
Could this be a battle of rookie quarterbacks? The Dolphins could follow the Jets' lead, drafting a passer in the first round. Trivia: The last time the two division rivals took first-round quarterbacks in the same draft was 1983 when the Dolphins took Dan Marino and the Jets selected Ken O'Brien. As for the game, Miami will win to split the season series. Record: 4-5.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, vs. Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. ET
The Bills snapped a 17-year playoff drought last season, but they're starting over with a new quarterback (probably AJ McCarron or a rookie) and a new offensive system. As long as the Jets don't let LeSean McCoy run wild, as they did in the 2017 opener, they should be in good shape. Record: 5-5.
Week 11: Bye
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, vs. New England Patriots, 1 p.m. ET
Coming off the bye, this will be a "QB Watch" week -- i.e., a great time to start the rookie (if he's not already playing). Why not? At 5-5, the playoffs appear out of reach. It's time to start thinking about 2019. Bowles is 1-5 against the Patriots, including four straight losses. Unless Brady and Rob Gronkowski are playing pairs shuffleboard at a legends retirement home, it'll be five straight losses. Record: 5-6.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. ET
This is the Jets' fourth game against a rookie head coach -- this time against Mike Vrabel, who inherits a playoff team. Not a bad gig, huh? This is a good matchup for the Jets because the Titans don't have an explosive passing attack, so look for an upset on the road. Record: 6-6.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. ET
There's something about Orchard Park, New York, that doesn't sit well with the Jets, who have dropped five of their last six road games against the Bills. The slump continues. Record: 6-7.
Week 15: Saturday, Dec. 15, vs. Houston Texans, 4:30 or 8:20 p.m. ET
Facing one of the NFL's top quarterback-receiver tandems -- Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins -- the Jets need cornerback Trumaine Johnson ($34 million guaranteed) to earn his massive paycheck. And he will. Record: 7-7.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, vs. Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m. ET
Since 2009, Rodgers is 26-8 in December and January. Need we say more? Former Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, known for his chronic lateness, will be on time and highly motivated in what looms as a revenge game for him. Record: 7-8.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, at New England Patriots, 1 p.m. ET
Could this be the final regular-season home game in the Brady-Bill Belichick era? If it is, the Patriots won't go out with a loss to the Jets, that's for sure. Record: 7-9.