The following exercise is fraught with peril. I’ve often lampooned the notion of game-by-game predictions (with scores!) in April before the draft, OTAs, minicamp, training camp and even the preseason. It’s a ridiculous task given that the team landscape will change between now and the regular-season opener in five months.
Heck, we don’t even know the identity of the starting quarterback for Week 1. (It’ll be Josh McCown, by the way).
So why am I doing this? Why am I opening myself up for criticism from Twitter Einsteins, who have correctly predicted the Jets record every single year since birth?
Eh, why not? It makes for good off-season discussion.
Here goes nothing…
Week 1: at Bills (Sept. 10)
Bills 20, Jets 17 OT. Record: 0-1
What better way to kick off the season than with playing five quarters of football? Sean McDermott will have a successful debut in Buffalo thanks to a late comeback capped in overtime.
Week 2: at Raiders (Sept. 17)
Raiders 27, Jets 13. Record: 0-2
The Black Hole nut-jobs, ticked off at the news that their favorite team is eventually leaving for Las Vegas, will likely be crazier than usual in the Raiders home opener. Oakland will be a trendy Super Bowl pick this year. They’re loaded with young talent. The Jets won’t be able to keep up.
Week 3: vs Dolphins (Sept. 24)
Dolphins 24, Jets 20. Record: 0-3
The division rival that swept Gang Green last season rolls into town. The Dolphins embarrassed Todd Bowles’ team in MetLife Stadium last year with their backup quarterback. This will be closer than the 31-13 disaster in 2016, but the Jets will come up short again.
Week 4: vs Jaguars (Oct. 1)
Jaguars 16, Jets 13. Record: 0-4
After three consecutive losses, Bowles goes to the bullpen, unwraps Christian Hackenberg and finally puts him into a real-live regular-season game!
I know what you’re thinking: The Jags are a cupcake. Under most circumstances, you’d be right. But consider this: Jacksonville looks at the Jets as fresh pastry. Tom Coughlin leaves New Jersey a winner. Wait. Coughlin isn’t the head coach… Doug Marrone is, you say? Tell that to Coughlin.
Week 5: at Browns (Oct. 8)
Jets 13, Browns 10. Record: 1-4
This would be called the Josh McCown Revenge Game if he were still the starting quarterback. Alas, he won’t be. So, can Hackenberg get his first career win against the worst team in all the land? I’m torn. Oh, screw it. Give the kid his first victory. (This prediction stuff is an inexact science).
Week 6: vs Patriots (Oct. 15)
Patriots 31, Jets 10. Record: 1-5
Avert your eyes. This could get ugly in a hurry.
Week 7: at Dolphins (Oct. 22)
Jets 24, Dolphins 21 OT. Record: 2-5
In a weird scheduling quirk, the Jets wrap up with their AFC East foes before the halfway mark of the season. I got a feeling that Mr. Hackenberg has the best game of his season in South Florida as the Jets pull off the upset.
Week 8: vs. Falcons (Oct. 29)
Falcons 41, Jets 17. Record: 2-6
The reigning NFC champs have way too much firepower for Bowles’ defense.
Week 9: vs Bills on Thursday Night (Nov. 2)
Jets 20, Bills 16. Record: 3-6
Buffalo isn’t good enough to sweep anyone.
Week 10: at Buccaneers (Nov. 12)
Bucs 27, Jets 17. Record: 3-7
The Jets’ second trip to the Sunshine State will produce a different result.
Week 11: Bye Week (Nov. 19)
Late byes stink.
Week 12: vs Panthers (Nov. 26)
Panthers 20, Jets 13. Record: 3-8
My money’s on Cam Newton to have a bounce-back season (assuming he heals up).
Week 13: vs Chiefs (Dec. 3)
Chiefs 24, Jets 14. Record: 3-9
Andy Reid’s team embarrassed the Jets in Arrowhead last year (see: seven-turnover nightmare). It won’t get that ugly this time, but the result will be the same.
Week 14: at Broncos (Dec. 10)
Broncos 17, Jets 10. Record: 3-10
Denver’s quarterbacks aren’t scary, but much of the rest of the team — especially the defense — is. Asking Hackenberg to win against that defense in that setting is a bit much.
Week 15: at Saints (Dec. 17)
Saints 31, Jets 23. Record: 3-11
Drew Brees is a borderline senior citizen, but he can still sling it. This isn’t your older brother’s Saints, but they can still light you up in that dome.
Week 16: vs Chargers (Dec. 24)
Jets 23, Chargers 16. Record: 4-11
Bowles’ team snaps their five-game losing streak by beating a team that traveled cross-country to play a meaningless game.
Week 17: at Patriots (Dec. 31)
Patriots 27, Jets 14. Record: 4-12
The Patriots could have the No. 1 playoff seed locked up by the final week. If that happens, the Hoodie might rest Tom Brady, Gronk and many of the regulars. But nothing is guaranteed. Even if Brady rests, that Jimmy Garoppolo guy is pretty good too.
The 2017 Jets finish 4-12 in what truly was a rebuilding season. Despite fewer wins in 2017 than 2016, the younger players make important progress.
PS — Game predictions are for entertainment purposes only. Wager at your own risk.