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Jets to face Sam Darnold, Panthers in Week 1 as Gang Green’s 2021 schedule revealed
Jets to face Sam Darnold, Panthers in Week 1 as Gang Green’s 2021 schedule revealed

Jets to face Sam Darnold, Panthers in Week 1 as Gang Green’s 2021 schedule revealed

The NFL knows how to create intrigue and capitalize on it.

The Jets will open on the road against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Sept. 12.

Zach Wilson vs. Sam Darnold. The new Jets quarterback versus the old Jets quarterback. Get your popcorn ready.

The Jets traded Darnold to the Panthers after three disappointing years and drafted Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick. The club heavily considered keeping Darnold and GM Joe Douglas revealed if the pick wasn’t as high they would have kept the former USC star.

“I think it’s safe to say that, if our pick was a little later, we wouldn’t have been having this discussion right,” Douglas said during a zoom press conference in April. “We’d fully be comfortable moving forward with Sam.”

But the Jets were in love with Wilson and felt moving on from Darnold was the best decision for the franchise. The club has already added more offensive weapons for their new quarterback than they did for their old quarterback. They signed wide receiver Corey Davis, along with drafting wideout Elijah Moore, running back Michael Carter and offensive guard Alijah Vera-Tucker.

Whoever wins the Week 1 matchup will have bragging rights for that week. But in the grand scheme, it doesn’t matter. The Jets have their signalcaller of the future, and the Panthers are still trying to find out if Darnold is theirs.

Gang Green will also be Jet-ing off to London in 2021 as the league announced that the Falcons will host the Jets on Sunday, Oct. 10 at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The game will kick off at 9:30 a.m. ET (2:30 p.m. UK time). It’s one of two NFL games in London this season along with Jaguars-Dolphins on Sunday, Oct. 17.

After going 2-14 last year, the Jets fired Adam Gase and then hired Robert Saleh. The team has been full of optimism this offseason.

Jet fans are ecstatic about the future.

But the NFL gave the Jets only one primetime game as they will face the Colts on Nov. 4 on “Thursday Night Football.”

The majority of the schedule consists of 1 p.m. games.

Most intriguing game: Week 16, vs. Jacksonville

The easy and lazy answer is Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers, when the Jets will face Darnold. But the most intriguing game of the year won’t be a Week 1 matchup. No matter what happens in that game, it won’t be that memorable. Now the matchup with the Jaguars will feature Trevor Lawrence and Wilson for the first time in their careers. They will forever be linked. Also will be the first time since the 2015 season where rookie quarterbacks who were the No. 1 and the No. 2 overall picks will face each other since Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota battled in Week 1. Mariota’s team won that matchup as the Titans crushed the Buccaneers 42-14.

Toughest stretch: Week 9-11

The Jets will be on the road to face the Colts, then home for the Bills and Dolphins. All three of those teams won double digit games last season. That trio finished 2020 in the Top 15 in scoring defense as the Dolphins finished fourth (21.1), Colts finished 11th (22.9) and Bills were 14th (23.2). All three are expected to win nine or more games and contend in the AFC and the Bills could end up in the Super Bowl. Those three games could end up as losses. This will be a measuring stick on where the Jets are in Saleh’s first season.

Easiest stretch: Week 12-14

The Jets travel to play the Texans and then host the Eagles and Saints in the following weeks. With the off the field Deshaun Watson fiasco with the trade demand along with the legal situation, Watson probably won’t be on the Texans. So they will be an abomination this year and could earn the No. 1 pick for the 2022 draft. That should be an easy win for the Jets. The Eagles still have questions at quarterback and their roster isn’t good. The Saints may still be good since the roster is full of studs but how good is Taysom Hill or Winston? We shall see.

Here’s the full 2021 Jets schedule:

Week 1: at Panthers, Sept. 12, 1 p.m., CBS

Week 2: vs. Patriots, Sept. 19, 1 p.m., CBS

Week 3: at Broncos, Sept. 26, 4:05 p.m., CBS

Week 4: vs. Titans, Oct. 3, 1 p.m., CBS

Week 5: at Falcons (in London), Oct. 10, 9:30 a.m., NFL Network

Week 6 : BYE

Week 7: at Patriots, Oct. 24, 1 p.m., CBS

Week 8: vs. Bengals, Oct. 31, 1 p.m., CBS

Week 9: at Colts, Nov. 4, 8:20 p.m., FOX

Week 10: vs. Bills, Nov. 14, 1 p.m., CBS

Week 11: vs. Dolphins, Nov. 21, 1 p.m., CBS

Week 12: at Texans, Nov. 28, 1 p.m., CBS

Week 13: vs. Eagles, Dec. 5, 1 p.m., CBS

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Week 14: vs. Saints, Dec. 12, 1 p.m., FOX

Week 15: at Dolphins, Dec. 18 or 19, TBD

Week 16: vs. Jaguars, Dec. 26, 1 p.m., CBS

Week 17: vs. Buccaneers, Jan. 2, 1 p.m. FOX

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Week 18: at Bills, Jan. 9, 1 p.m. CBS

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