New York Jets fans are set to be welcomed back to MetLife Stadium this fall. Can they expect any primetime games? ESM investigates…
The New York Jets learned of a major offseason acquisition late Monday morning.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on WFAN’s Moose and Maggie program that MetLife Stadium would welcome fans at a 15 percent capacity rate starting March 1. Social distancing will likely be enacted, but Murphy hinted that the percentage could rise as football season approaches.
Jets fans will doubt relish their first opportunity to spell out the team’s name, especially with new head coach Robert Saleh in tow, as well as some potential new faces through both surplus cap space and draft picks.
In celebration of the spectators’ upcoming return, ESM looks ahead on the eight teams set to visit East Rutherford’s green setting this season and ponders their potential primetime posting…
1. Buffalo Bills
The annual Bills-Jets pair used to be Thursday night fodder, a matchup to fill primetime quota for each team. But with the Bills capturing the hearts of many in the Empire State, a rivalry could be brewing for the Jets to keep their territory. Last season, Buffalo earned their first sweep in the series since 2015…a year best known for the time they ended the Jets’ last realistic shot at the postseason.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Just when the Jets thought the Tom Brady problem was over, the arguable GOAT returns to a green MetLife Stadium in 2021. The rivalry between Brady and the Jets, who inadvertently gave life to his NFL journey in 2001, has often resembled that of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, with Brady owning a 30-8 record against Gang Green. The quadrennial meeting between Tampa and New York has produced some thrillers in the past. Wayne Chrebet and Curtis Martin silenced Keyshawn Johnson with some game-winning trickery in 2000, while Nick Folk booted a late 48-yarder to win the last MetLife meeting in 2013 (Geno Smith’s first NFL start).
3. New England Patriots
National networks have, for whatever reason, taken a liking to the Jets-Patriots rivalry. Even with the allure of Brady gone, last season’s get-together at MetLife earned the Monday night treatment for the second straight season. The networks could be willing to revisit this matchup with each team chasing Buffalo and potentially featuring a new quarterback matchup.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last season, such a meeting between New York and Jacksonville could’ve served as the de facto play-in game for the top spot in this spring’s NFL Draft. But a meeting between the top two picks, potentially a Sugar Bowl rematch between Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, could draw the attention of the league’s national TV partners. Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield notably did battle on a Thursday night during their rookie year in 2018 (though Mayfield did not start the game).
5. Miami Dolphins
Miami proved last season that it wasn’t quite ready for primetime, though networks tend to flirt with divisional matchups. An extra layer of intrigue could be added if one of these rivals convinces the stubborn Texans to trade Deshaun Watson.
6. Cincinnati Bengals
If Joe Burrow is ready to go, networks could be attracted to 2020’s top overall draft pick engaging in a battle with 2021’s number two, especially if it’s also a quarterback.
7. Tennessee Titans
There could be some attraction to this matchup due to the Titans’ status as defending AFC South champions could draw some viewers, but without much history between these squads, there’s little national appeal.
8. New Orleans Saints
The same problems that befall the Tennesse tilt could apply with this matchup, and the interconference setting certainly doesn’t help matters.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags