With the 2021 NFL schedule officially released, it’s time to take a closer look at which games stand out on the calendar.
This will be the largest season in history with 17 scheduled contests across an 18 week period. When you take a look at the Jets schedule, several games separate themselves from the rest.
6. Week 9: Green and White at Indianapolis Colts (November 4; 8:20 pm on Fox/NFLN/Amazon, Thursday Night Football)
The New York Jets only have one prime time game on the 2021 NFL calendar and that comes in Week 9 vs the Indianapolis Colts. So of course we have to include it among the top six games on the calendar.
These two teams share a lot of recent history including a variety of transactions:
- Jets traded up to No. 3 for Sam Darnold and Colts got Quenton Nelson at No. 6.
- Assistant general manager Rex Hogan spent a few years with Indianapolis before coming over to join the green and white.
- A variety of trades (Quincy Wilson, Henry Anderson) to name a few.
The Jets will likely be a massive underdog in this game. Indianapolis is among the AFC’s elite.
How far they go will ride on Carson Wentz acclimating to his new team. Although this will be a great litmus test for this young Jets team to see where they stand.
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5. Week 5: Jets at Atlanta Falcons (October 10; 9:30 am on NFL Network, NFL International Series in London)
This will undoubtedly be the most controversial choice on this list, but it really shouldn’t be.
9:30 am football people, you can’t beat that.
Also, the Jets were scheduled to travel on the road to play the Atlanta Falcons. With this game becoming a part of the NFL International Series, it changed from a true road game, to a neutral contest.
When you evaluate the entire schedule for the Jets, just based on opponents and matchup, this will be one of the stiffest challenges all year for Robert Saleh and this defensive group.
Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Kyle Pitts to name a few? How the heck are you stopping all of that? Hopefully, Saleh has an answer by Week 5 in London. Should be an exciting game.
4. Week 17: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at NYJ (January 2; 1:00 pm on FOX)
For over 20 years Tom Brady haunted New York Jets fans with his dashingly good looks, his All-Pro play, and of course his relentless beatdowns of all things green and white while with the New England Patriots.
Thankfully last offseason, Brady left the division and the AFC conference all together when he joined up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Of course, he went on to win his record-breaking seventh Super Bowl title, but at least it wasn’t with the Pats.
Fast forward to 2021, Brady will make his epic return to MetLife Stadium to renew his rivalry with the Jets. Who knows if this game will even mean anything for the Bucs, because at that point they could in theory have everything wrapped up, but either way it should be a massive moment.
Brady, even at 43 (will be 44 by the start of the 2021 NFL season), still instills fear in every Jets fan on the planet. Week 17 will be no different.
3. Week 2: New England Patriots at NYJ (September 19; 1:00 pm on CBS)
The NFL schedule makers pulled quite a switcharoo from 2020 compared to 2021. Last year the Jets didn’t play New England until after November. This year they’ll have both of their matchups with the Patriots wrapped up by October 24.
Although this game specifically holds special meaning. It’ll be the home opener for the Jets and this new era of Gang Green football.
This is the first time Zach Wilson will be tossing the pigskin in front of the home faithful. It’ll also be the debut of rookie head coach Robert Saleh and this 4-3 defense at home.
Not sure if this fits, but this game feels reminiscent of the 2009 season when Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan made their home debuts in Week 2 vs the Patriots. A late Sanchez to Dustin Keller touchdown sealed the deal as Gang Green won 16-9 over their hated rival.
2. Week 16: Jacksonville Jaguars at Gang Green (December 26; 1:00 pm on CBS)
What more do you want?
No. 1 pick (Trevor Lawrence of Clemson) vs No. 2 pick (Zach Wilson of BYU). It’s somewhat surprising that the NFL didn’t use this game earlier in the year for a Monday or Sunday night football game, but this will do.
On top of the obvious, a battle between the top two picks in the 2021 NFL draft, this is also a harsh reality for Jets fans. It’s what could’ve been (dream) and what ended up happening (reality).
Jets fans basically penciled in T-Law as their quarterback of the future after an 0-13 start to the 2020 season. It was a foregone conclusion, Gang Green simply had to lose out, as expected, and the team would receive the No. 1 overall pick.
Of course, that didn’t happen, the Jets won two meaningless games against the LA Rams and the Cleveland Browns respectively. Seemingly all was lost and then the Wilson hype train built up steam in the lead up to the 2021 NFL draft and we all forgot about Lawrence’s beautiful locks.
This could be a battle between two potential Rookie of the Year candidates. Both are quarterbacks that will get a ton of playing time in a quarterback-driven league. Something to keep an eye out for.
1. Week 1: New York Jets at Carolina Panthers (September 12; 1:00 pm on CBS)
We broke down the top five juiciest storylines to watch out for in this contest (you can check that out here).
This game literally has everything you look for:
- Drama (Sam Darnold, Robby Anderson’s revenge game)
- Hope (debut of rookie quarterback Zach Wilson)
- Week 1 hype
Quite frankly any game (outside of Buffalo for the hundredth time) would’ve fit the bill. At this point in the offseason, everyone is 0-0, there’s overflowing hope that this could be the year.
This is the No. 1 game to watch on the calendar and Jets fans are going to get it in Week 1. This is arguably one of the top games on the entire NFL slate, let alone the Jets 2021 schedule.