Todd Bowles could be on the outside looking in when the playoffs begin.
I’ll venture into the unforgiving world of NFL prognostication in mid-April fully knowing the risks. I will undoubtedly be lampooned for errors, mocked endlessly on social media and be forced to re-live these 2016 Jets predictions gone horribly wrong. Strangers will “like” my tweet today only to cruelly re-tweet it in January as a reminder of my cluelessness.
I’m not a professional gambler, so the failure rate will probably be high. Of course, it’s a nearly impossible task to predict wins and losses before the draft for a team that doesn’t even know which guy will be their Week 1 starting quarterback yet.
Nevertheless, I’ll soldier on and make my fearless predictions for the 2016 Jets season:
Week 1 vs Bengals: I gotta be honest. The first six games on the schedule look like grim death. It could be a bloodbath by mid-October, but if ever there were a chance to steal one of these early-season games, this is it. The Jets will have ample time to prepare for a Cincy team coming off a 12-win season. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is gone… and I’ve never been a believer in Andy Dalton (especially after he came up small for my fantasy team following a trade at the deadline).
Prediction: Jets 24, Bengals 20 (1-0)
Week 2 at Bills on Thursday Night Football: Gang Green will have a short week to prepare their first AFC East foe. Both teams will be a part of history too. It’ll be the first game to be streamed live on Twitter. (Todd Bowles and Rex Ryan may or may not have shadow Twitter accounts). The Jets return to Buffalo for the first time since their crushing Week 17 loss that kept them out of the playoffs.
Prediction: Bills 23, Jets 17 (1-1)
Week 3 at Chiefs: The last time the Jets were in Kansas City, Mike Vick and Matt Simms were under center. They’ll need much better quarterback play to have a chance to topple a boring — but sound — Andy Reid team. No Justin Houston will certainly help matters, but Arrowhead Stadium is a hellish place to play.
Prediction: Chiefs 24, Jets 20 (1-2)
Week 4 vs Seahawks: These are definitely not your older brother’s ‘Hawks, but they were icy hot down the stretch last season. They’re a different team without their 12th Man in Seattle, but Russell Wilson is so damn pesky. This will be a white knuckler.
Prediction: Jets 19, Seahawks 16 OT (2-2)
Week 5 at Pittsburgh: On one hand, the Steelers defense is akin to Swiss cheese. On the other hand, their offense is frightening even without play-making receiver Martavis Bryant, who has been suspended for the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. New tight end Lardarius Green will be a force in this high-octane offense. The Jets secondary might be overwhelmed by Big Ben & Co.
Prediction: Steelers 30, Jets 23. (2-3)
When will we learn: Don’t bet against these guys and the Patriots.
Week 6 at Cardinals on Monday Night Football: Bruce Arians has been a trusted friend and mentor to Bowles for the better part of his adult life. The teacher takes this one in prime time.
Prediction: Cardinals 27, Jets 20 (2-4)
Week 7 vs Ravens: The Jets snap out of their three-game funk by pummeling Joe Flacco into submission.
Prediction: Jets 28, Ravens 13 (3-4)
Week 8 at Browns: Nothing quite like entering the midway point of the season with a cupcake contest against one of the league’s cupcakes. Who will be Hue Jackson’s starting quarterback? Robert Griffin III? Carson Wentz? It won’t really matter. The Jets are going to steamroll over them.
Prediction: Jets 30, Browns 13 (4-4)
Week 9 at Miami: The Jets have won four consecutive road or neutral-site games against the Dolphins. In fact, the epic Santonio Holmes meltdown during the 2011 season finale was the last loss in South Florida. But my gut tells me that Miami’s new offense, with rookie head coach Adam Gase, will be more challenging than the dink-and-dunk slop that they ran under the previous regime.
Prediction: Dolphins 20, Jets 17 (4-5)
Week 10 vs Rams: The Jets will get their first look at top overall pick Jared Goff (yes, that’s who I believe L.A. will take after giving up a boatload of picks to grab the top spot). Chances that Goff figures out the Jets’ defense: Slim. Ask Marcus Mariota how challenging it was to go up against Bowles’ defense last season.
Prediction: Jets 24, Rams 10 (5-5)
Week 11: Bye
Prediction: The Jets will pitch their first shutout of the season.
You know that Rex Ryan relishes the role of spoiler — especially against the Jets.
Week 12 vs Patriots on Sunday Night Football: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, well, I don’t know who should be ashamed. Nevertheless, this primetime matchup will loaded with story lines. Every year, I think the Patriots Empire will crumble. Every year, I’m left to explain why it didn’t. Brady & Belichick typically get the last laugh. Besides, did I mention that I don’t know who the Jets quarterback will actually be?
Prediction: Patriots 24, Jets 21 OT (5-6)
Week 13 vs Colts on Monday Night Football: Andrew Luck was pummeled in an early-season loss to the Jets last year. Gang Green’s defensive line vs. the Colts offensive line isn’t a fair fight… but could Mo Wilkerson be taking up permanent residence in Indy?
Prediction: Jets 30, Colts 17 (6-6)
Week 14 at 49ers: Chip Kelly’s offense scares exactly nobody. By this point in the season, San Francisco’s defense will be running on fumes after logging so many snaps. This could be a laugher.
Prediction: Jets 33, 49ers 13 (7-6)
Week 15 vs Dolphins on Saturday Night Football: Bowles & Co. exact revenge against their division foes.
Prediction: Jets 20, Dolphins 17 (8-6)
Week 16 at Patriots: Brady will be Gang Green’s Grinch on Christmas Eve.
Prediction: Patriots 20, Jets 16 (8-7)
Week 17: vs Bills: The Jets will ring in the New Year with a win, but be left out of the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.
Prediction: Jets 17, Bills 13 (9-7)