New York Jets: 2020 Season Preview

New York Jets, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
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The 2020 season for the New York Jets is one that can have many results. Sam Darnold can take a jump and they can compete for a wild card spot, they can lose games but be competitive or they can have an early draft pick, again.

Those are the three broad possibilities that are most likely to become realities. Sure, things can happen that would land the Jets between those possibilities, but we won’t know until we see them.

The Jets don’t have a forgiving schedule. It’ll probably end up being far from it. It is a schedule, though, that can make players, such as Sam Darnold, prove who they are. Darnold is the player under the most pressure this season and for him, year three has to be an improved one. For him, and the rest of the team, the 2020 season will be one to watch.

Every team has a mix of tough and not-as-tough games throughout the season. Before the season begins and teams hit the gridiron, let’s take a look at some games on each side of the margin.

Toughest Games

Week 2: 49ers at Jets

Week 8: Jets at Chiefs

Week 14: Jets at Seahawks

Week 15: Jets at Rams

Every game played in the NFL is difficult, but these are the four that should be the most difficult for the New York Jets. All four of those teams can be strong playoff teams and, well, two of them were in the Super Bowl last season. Also, three of those four games are on the road and places such as Kansas City and Seattle are very difficult places to play as the away team.

The Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champions and are the rightful favorites for this season. Having to play them on the road should cause that game to already be penciled in as a loss. Yes, I want the Jets to win, but they won’t.

As for the 49ers, they made it to the Super Bowl as well. They might not be as dominant as they were last season, but they are one of the top teams in the league regardless.

The matchup against the Seahawks is another extremely tough one, but it’s an exciting one as well. As everyone should know by now, Jamal Adams was traded to the Seahawks not too long ago. Now, the hype surrounding this matchup seems to be the greatest of any Jets game this season.

This isn’t about Jamal Adams though, it’s about the Jets and the Seahawks playing each other. And once again, the Jets fans are going to have to hope and pray that this game is relatively close.

Not-as-tough games

Week 6: Jets at Chargers

Week 10: Jets at Dolphins

Week 12: Dolphins at Jets

Week 13: Raiders at Jets

As of right now, these four games seem to be on the not-as-tough side before the season begins. The Week 6 matchup against the Chargers all depends on who is under center for them. Tyrod Taylor is a game-manager quarterback who makes quick, short passes and rarely turns the ball over.

Justin Herbert did that in college as well but also has a larger capability of making big plays downfield. Also, the gameplan would be different for Herbert from a pressure standpoint as well. Since he’s a rookie and Week 6 would either be his first career start or one of his first, Gregg Williams would probably send more pressure his way. 

The Chargers defense is substantially better than last season, though. With additions such as Linval Joseph, Chris Harris Jr., and Nick Vigil, this defense will be solid. It won’t be easy for Sam Darnold to pick apart this unit, but if the turnovers are held in check, the Jets could win with a solid defensive performance.

The Jets have back-to-back games against the Dolphins between Weeks 10 and 12, with a bye in-between. The Games against Miami could be evaluated here in a similar way to the Chargers game. Ryan Fitzpatrick was named the starter for Week 1, but rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa could be under center come Week 10. Even though Fitzpatrick was the Dolphins’ leading rusher last season (seriously), Tua Tagovailoa is a much greater threat in that category.

Miami made an abundance of moves in the offseason. They signed players such as Byron Jones, Jordan Howard, Emannuel Ogbah, and Shaq Lawson, to name a few. They are a better team than they were a year ago, but they shouldn’t be among the more difficult games.

The Raiders game could either be not-as-tough or extremely tough. Last season, the Jets hosted the Raiders in Week 12 and won 34-3. Sam Darnold threw for 315 yards and 2 touchdowns that game as the Jets played one of their best games overall. Here are the highlights from that win:

The Raiders, in my opinion, shouldn’t be substantially better this season, but they certainly won’t be worse. If the Raiders are on, it’ll be tough. I just don’t see that happening. As a result, this game should be one of the lighter ones this season.

Full schedule and prediction

Here is the full New York Jets schedule for this season:

Once again, this isn’t a forgiving schedule for Gang Green. If they don’t come out of the gates ready and strong, they could very easily start the season with four straight losses at least. They shouldn’t be expected to start sluggish and should win at least two of their first five.

I predict the New York Jets will finish the 2020 season with a record of 8-8. That isn’t spectacular but it is an improvement from last season by one game. Finishing this season without a losing record would be huge for Darnold, Adam Gase, and the rest of the organization.

Anything can happen across an NFL season and the Jets could surprise all of us. However, in a more realistic world, the Jets could finish 8-8. First on the agenda: win Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.