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Where Do Experts Rate the Jets as the 2017 Season Begins?

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Jets Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

How do the Jets rate relative to the rest of the NFL? That question can only be answered over the course of the next 17 weeks. Here are what some experts have to say in NFL preseason power rankings. The good news is one of them doesn’t put the Jets last.

Sports Illustrated

32. New York Jets

Last year: 5–11

Highest-Place Vote: 28th

Last-Place Votes: 13

Points in MMQB Power Poll: 24

Week 1 Opponent: at Buffalo

Washington Post

28. New York Jets

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the New York Jets not appearing at the very bottom of the list.

The team’s best quarterback, Josh McCown, produced a below-average passer rating in 2016 (72.3) and he won’t have a veteran corps of receivers to rely on after a neck injury to wide receiver Quincy Enunwa cost him the season, leaving second-year pros Charone Peake (caught 19 of 35 targets for 186 yards in 2016) and Robby Anderson (caught 42 of 78 targets for 587 yards and two touchdowns last season) at the top of the depth chart. Defensively, there are some bright spots. The Jets’ defensive line stopped rushers at or behind the line of scrimmage 27 percent of the time, second only to the Los Angeles Rams, and they still have defensive end Leonard Williams on the roster.

Williams had 29 run stops in 2016, seventh most among defenders, and his 48 total sacks, hits and hurries tied him for 11th overall. He suffered a wrist injury in the preseason against the New York Giants and didn’t return to the game, though Bob Glauber, NFL columnist for New York’s Newsday, reported Williams believes he will be ready for the season opener against the Buffalo Bills.

The Ringer

32. New York Jets

2016 finish: 5-11

2016 Football Outsiders DVOA finish: 31st on offense; 21st on defense

Best-case scenario: It’s no secret that the Jets are shopping their big contracts by trading defensive end Sheldon Richardson (who’s on the final year of his rookie deal) to the Seahawks and reportedly putting 31-year-old running back Matt Forte on the market. An ideal season would start with the front office unloading as many players who have no long-term value in exchange for draft assets as possible. On the field, getting promising returns from the last two draft classes and having Leonard Williams emerge as a full-blown superstar would be good—as long as neither does enough to take New York out of the catbird seat for next year’s draft. No Jets fan is going to mind a 3-13 season if it leads to the franchise getting its pick of incoming quarterbacks to open the 2018 campaign.

Worst-case scenario: Remember “Hardhome,” the Game of Thrones episode where Jon Snow meets the army of the dead? I’m picturing something along those lines. The only way this season could go truly terribly for the Jets is if a Patriots beatdown scars their young players so much that Jamal Adams starts muttering, “I’ve seen Tom Brady; I’ve looked into his eyes” without being able to concentrate on anything else.

As long as potential building blocks like Adams (a former LSU safety the Jets drafted sixth overall in April) and Marcus Maye (another safety, taken in the 2017 second round) don’t get Brad Lidged beyond repair, this season has limited downside. Without hope, there can be no despair. In Jets land, the actual worst-case scenario is more twisted.

There would be no more awful fate for the Jets than getting to six wins and falling to the no. 8 to no. 12 range in next year’s draft, a result of the team’s highly drafted prospects (Adams, Maye, and 2016 first-round pick Darron Lee) improving at an accelerated pace and its defensive headliners (like Muhammad Wilkerson) having bounce-back years. It’s time for the franchise to start over; everything has to come crashing down first.

Stat of note: 78. That’s how many more career catches recently acquired receiver Jermaine Kearse has than the rest of the Jets’ top seven wideouts combined. Kearse’s 153 catches more than doubles the total among the rest of his active teammates. Taking on a recently signed contract is never the smartest part of a rebuilding plan, but the Jets needed someone, anyone, to catch passes from their quarterback of choice, and they still managed to pry a conditional second-round pick (along with Kearse) from the Seahawks for Richardson.

Breakout player: Adams. He’s not only one of the few reasons for optimism on this roster, he can also do things like this.

CBS Sports

32. New York Jets

They are headed to a rough season as they clearly don't have enough to compete. Is 0-16 a possibility? You bet it is.


32. New York Jets

ESPN's FPI gives the Jets a 1.0 percent chance of making the playoffs, worst in the NFL.