One of my favorite things about the NFL is that teams can very quickly go from cellar dweller to a championship contender. Because of that, projections months before the season starts on which teams will be good or bad always feel a bit premature to me. Indeed, how many of us would have have projected the Detroit Lions would be a more successful team than the Green Bay Packers or that the Los Angeles Rams would go from Super Bowl winner to a 5-game winner whose allocated first round pick was the 6th overall pick in the draft?
With that said, there is still some value in examining projections as they are typically closer to right than they are wrong. One such projection was provided by SharpFootball, who based their projections on Vegas Win Totals.
Top 5 easiest schedules based on Projected Vegas Win Totals (per @SharpFootball):— John Daigle (@notJDaigle) May 12, 2023
Importantly, their analysis ranked the New York Jets as having the 8th hardest schedule in the NFL. This is because they have to play the other three AFC East teams (New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, and Miami Dolphins) two times while also playing each team in the AFC West and the NFC East one time, which are all pretty strong divisions.
However, the good news is that the other AFC East teams also have to play against these same divisions. Because of this, and other small differences in opponents based on division standings from last season, the strength of schedule for each of the other AFC East teams is actually projected to be more difficult than strength of schedule for the New York Jets. This implies that while the Jets schedule is difficult, it may not be a meaningful disadvantage as it pertains to winning the division.
Where this general strength of schedule may become more of a disadvantage is related to the wild card spots. This is because many AFC teams from other divisions will face easier schedules than the Jets (or their AFC East peers), giving those teams an advantage in securing a wild card playoff spot.