The NFL released its annual schedule on Thursday night amid great fanfare, and greater uncertainty.
The league is not only proceeding as if the season will go on, but that it will go on undelayed, despite the murky forecast presented by the coronavirus crisis.
Whether it comes to pass is another matter, but in the meantime it's given us something to chew on.
With that being said, the time is right for a way-too-early record prediction that is surely going to make me look like a fool by the end of next season.
The Jets' schedule could only be described as fittingly bizarro in this upside-down moment in history.
After having one of the league's easier slates last year, things get much tougher in 2020 based on their opponents' winning percentage.
The schedulemakers didn't make it easy on them in terms of logistics, either, with the team ticketed to play three games on the dreaded West Coast -- two in Los Angeles and one in Seattle.
None of this bodes especially well for the Jets, and you'll have to excuse us if we Jets fans are prone to fits of pessimism.
However, there are some encouraging signs overall.
Joe Douglas looks like a competent general manager -- wow, what a novelty. They also finished a respectable 7-9 last season, despite badly botching the preceding offseason and draft, and just about everything going wrong in term of injuries and bad luck.
The team's draft haul in its first draft under Douglas mostly received positive grades from pundits, who praised the infusion of much-needed, albeit raw, talent.
The x-factor, obviously, is the development of Sam Darnold as quarterback and Adam Gase as head coach and reputed QB whisperer.
It's hard to have a ton of faith in either based on their performance to date, but neither has exactly been set up for success.
If those guys take a step forward, I think a 9-7 record is attainable, which would probably have them in contention for a division title in the new-look AFC East, which is shaping up to be wide open.
Here are my game-by-game predictions:
Week 1: at BillsBuffalo probably deserves to be the division favorite given the dismantling of the Patriots. The Bills were a trendy playoff pick before last season, and probably will be again after deliving 10 wins in 2019. Their strong defense masked a lot of offensive deficiencies last season, though.
The Jets should be in both games this year, but I'll give the first round to the Bills in Buffalo. The Jets start out in the loss column, 0-1.Week 2: vs. 49ersThe Jets draw a brutal home opener, though maybe the Niners players will be out of sync because of the difference in time zone. The last time Niners came to town, the Jets got steamrolled by Colin Kaepernick. Gang Green drew a small measure of revenge with an overtime win in San Fran in 2016, though.
It's hard to predict a win here for the Jets, so I'll go with the 49ers. Panic is creeping in for the 0-2 Jets!Week 3: at ColtsThe Jets get in the win column against a sneaky-good Colts team on the road. Philip Rivers might have one last big season in Frank Reich's offensive attack, playing in favorable conditions on the fast turf in Indy. They scored points last year and probably will again in 2020, but the defense was a major issue.
The desperate Jets pull this one out to avoid an 0-3 start.Week 4: vs. BroncosThis one will be a good test of the Jets' defense. Do they take care of business, or become a footnote in Drew Lock's career on his way to the Hall of Fame?
I'm going to hope it's the former. The Jets have clawed their way back from an 0-2 start to pull even at 2-2.Week 5: vs. CardinalsGang Green should feel right at home in their second consecutive game at MetLife. The Cardinals' offense looks explosive, so the Jets should come ready to score points in this one.
The Jets win a shootout to win their third in a row after dropping two straight to start the season.Week 6: at ChargersThe Jets head west on the first of those aforemention West Coast swings, and predictably spoil their heady three-game run with a frustrating loss to the Chargers, in their first of two games at the newly christened SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
Back to .500 at 3-3.
Week 7: vs. BillsThe Jets get even with their division rival after droppig a close one in the disappointing season-opener. The Jets are 4-3, and the fans are showing cautious optimism.Week 8: at ChiefsThe see-saw continues. The Jets run into a buzzsaw in Kansas City, which has recovered from a sluggish start to the season - the so-called Super Bowl hangover. The Jets fall to 4-4 with an interesting patch on the schedule on the horizon.Week 9: vs. PatriotsSo begins a bizarre four-week stretch in which the Jets play three division games, including this one on Monday Night Football, with a bye week wedged in for good measure. The Jets get their first look at the Jarrett Stidham-led Patriots, who are not what they once were with Tom Brady in Tampa. The win over the Pats is the Jets' first since December 2015. Yikes. Back over .500 at 5-4. Week 10: at DolphinsThe Jets put a hurting on rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, still finding his sea legs after taking over the starting job in Week 4. The Miami humidity isn't a factor in mid-November the way it might be in, say, early September. The Jets are 6-4, and the playoffs are within reach.Week 11: BYEWeek 12: vs. DolphinsIn peak Jets fashion, they stumble coming out of the break, losing -- this time at home -- to the quarterback they just beat up on two weeks prior. The nip-and-tuck game marks one of Tua's signature moments as he establishes himself as a force the Jets will have to contend with for years to come.
The Jets fall to 6-5 because they can't have nice things.Week 13: vs. Las Vegas RaidersThe Raiders and Jets had some notable battles in the first Jon Gruden era in Oakland. Now the team is in Vegas, but that doesn't matter because they're coming to New York for this one. By this point, the Raiders are out of playoff contention, and mentioned prominently in Aaron Rodgers trade rumors, as well as the Tank-for-Trevor Lawrence discussion.
The Jets are 7-5!Week 14: at SeahawksRemember Pete Carroll's lone season as Jets head coach? If you watched closely, you're probably not surprised he turned out to be successful, and also not surprised he outsmarted himself in that Super Bowl against the Patriots. In any event, this is a tough spot for the Jets, with the Seahawks likely in playoff contention late in the season. They fall to 7-6 after this loss.Week 15: at RamsThe Jets will likely remain out west for their second consecutive West Coast game, so in fact they will probably end up having made only two trips out there. Now adjusted to being road warriors, and playing in much friendlier climes back, the Jets improve to 8-6 with an impressive road win back at SoFi Stadium.Week 16: vs. BrownsOdell Beckham Jr. puts on a show in his second game back at MetLife Stadium after his split from the Giants. The new-look Browns pull out a win in New York for the second straighth year, and the Jets are 8-7.
Week 17: at PatriotsThe Jets draw a small measure of revenge for all those years of torture at the hands of the Pats, sealing their first season sweep since way back in 2000 BB (Before Brady). Gang Green is 9-7 and maybe qualifies for the playoffs.