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NY Jets: Were The First Six Games Really So Tough?

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The Jets 1-5 start to the season was blamed on a killer schedule, but was that really the case?

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2016 season started, the six games the New York Jets faced to open the season looked like a disaster waiting to happen.  Five of the six teams went to the playoffs in 2015, and Buffalo,  the one team that didn't, swept the Jets in 2015.   At least three and maybe four of the teams were popular preseason picks to make it to the 2016 Super Bowl. These teams had a bunch of top defenses and top quarterbacks, at least on paper.  So when the Jets got off to a 1-5 start to the 2016 season it was blamed on the killer schedule.  But was the schedule really that tough?

Judging by how the 2016 season has actually played out the schedule may not have been as tough as advertised.  The Jets faced Cincinnati, Buffalo, Kansas City, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Arizona to start the season.  Of those six teams only Kansas City and Seattle appear to be locks for the playoffs.  Pittsburgh and Buffalo are just barely better than .500 and are both at risk of missing out on wild card bids, although Pittsburgh can still get in by winning the weak AFC North, in which they are currently tied with the Ravens for first place.  Arizona is a bad team going nowhere this year at 4-6-1 and Cincinnati is an even worse team going nowhere at 3-7-1.  Arizona, a bad team, completely dominated the Jets. Cincinnati, a very bad team, beat the Jets at MetLife Stadium.  Pittsburgh, a so-so team, destroyed the Jets.  Overall the teams the Jets faced in their first six games have a combined record of 34-29-3, a good but hardly killer record.  Take out their 5-1 record against the Jets and the combined record of the Jets' first six opponents is just 29-28-3, basically an average slate of opponents.

Based on what has actually happened in the 2016 season as opposed to the expected strength of the schedule, it looks like the opening six games were not all that tough after all.  The Jets lost badly to two excellent teams, Seattle and Kansas City.  But the Jets also lost badly to a bad Arizona team and got beat at home by an even worse Cincinnati team. Under the circumstances perhaps it wasn't the schedule that doomed the Jets.  Perhaps the Jets accomplished that largely on their own merits, or lack thereof.