How the 2024 NFL Schedule Helps the New York Jets

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Warren Sharp’s rest disparity analysis of the 2024 NFL Schedule. Click here to read the full article.

Last year, it was well known that the NFL handed the Jets the best rest edge schedule and hoped to see them thrive.

When making the schedule last year, Mike North, NFL’s VP of Broadcast Planning, admitted they were “all in on the Jets” and hoping that the Jets were a good team because the NFL wants their primetime games to display well.

Unfortunately, Aaron Rodgers’ injury put Zach Wilson and company on primetime last year, and it was a bad look for the NFL.

But the NFL went right back to the Jets.

Per North:

“Now Aaron Rodgers seems like he’s healthy. He seems like he’s relevant. The Jets seem to have gotten better. So, are we all in again on the Jets? Yes.”

And to help the Jets, the NFL did a few interesting things this season.

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First and foremost, they front-loaded their schedule with absolute cupcakes after their Week 1 game.

The Jets schedule Weeks 1 through 5 is easiest in the NFL.

They could face 3 straight rookie QBs, with every rookie QB playing away from his home stadium:

  • Week 3 home vs NE (Drake Maye)
  • Week 4 home vs DEN (Bo Nix)
  • Week 5 London vs MIN (J.J. McCarthy)

In the last decade, rookie QBs are just 36-76 (0.325) in Weeks 1 through 5.

In those first five games, the Jets play only one team projected to win 7+ games.

As a result, the NFL is likely hoping the Jets are 4-1 or 5-0, which will then start a huge primetime TV stretch for the Jets.

From Week 6 through 11, the Jets are in Primetime for 4 of their 6 games:

  • Week 6 vs. Bills (MNF)
  • Week 7 at Steelers (SNF)
  • Week 9 vs. Texans (TNF)
  • Week 11 vs. Colts (SNF)

The Jets are the first team in NFL history to receive six Primetime games in the first 11 weeks of the season.

Considering the narratives that the NFL prioritizes, it makes perfect sense.

If the league front-loaded the Jets’ schedule with hard teams and they started 1-4 or 2-3, they aren’t nearly as compelling on all these primetime games.

But if, in the buildup to the games, the league can promote the 4-1 or 5-0 Jets heading into a huge game against Josh Allen’s Bills on Monday Night Football, they’ll be absolutely ecstatic.

So whereas last year the NFL gave the Jets a great rest schedule, this year, they focused on ensuring the Jets start quickly.

I called out last year at this time how the Jets were given distinct rest edges in each of their final four divisional games down the stretch. The NFL did a better job of eliminating that bias in the 2024 schedule.

In fact, the Jets have identical rest to their divisional opponents in 5-of-6 games this year, so zero rest edges to speak of in-division.

But the rest edges they do have are more front-loaded, just like their opponents.

The Jets have a bye and two mini-byes. Those games are all in the first 13 weeks of the season:

  • Week 4 home +3 days extra rest off a mini-bye, facing the Broncos
  • Week 10 away +3 days extra rest off a mini-bye, facing the Cardinals
  • Week 13 home with +7 days extra rest off a bye, facing the Seahawks

The only two games they play with a rest deficit in the first 13 weeks are both games with only a -1-day rest edge, following their two Monday night games.

There is no doubt, whether it’s just me looking solely at their schedule or words straight from the NFL, that the schedule has been constructed in the hope and interest that they win games this year.

That would ultimately set them up for three consecutive games to close the season, all at home, against the Bills, Dolphins, and Rams, with the hope that the Jets are solidly in playoff contention and those games not only are meaningful, but could be flexed into primetime viewing.

Which is why the NFL decided to give the Jets the maximum number of primetime games this year but shove them all into the first 11 weeks before flex scheduling ramps up.

If Rodgers is healthy and the Jets are successful, there is no doubt we’ll see them on primetime 7+ games this year. I predict it will be at some point during that three-game home stand to close the year.

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