2017 New York Jets game-by-game predictions

Tough start, tough finish and only one game in prime time.

Welcome to the New York Jets' 2017 season.

On paper, this is the Jets' toughest schedule since 2009, based on the opponents' winning percentage from the previous year (.535). Of course, we knew that before Thursday night's schedule release. The new wrinkle is that the Jets will open with back-to-back road games for the first time since 1992 -- ouch.

Their only prime-time game is a Thursday night against the Buffalo Bills, which indicates the Jets no longer are seen as a national draw.

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. ET

The Jets open on the road for the first time in eight years. The star of this rivalry will be sitting in an ESPN studio in Bristol, Connecticut, talking instead of coaching. No, it won't be the same without Rex Ryan, who was fired by the Bills two years after getting sacked by the Jets. In the battle of the Rex-cessors, Todd Bowles will prevail over Sean McDermott. Record: 1-0.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17, at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m. ET

This probably will be the Jets' final visit to the Black Hole, and that's too bad. One of the most memorable games in team history took place in Oakland -- the famous Heidi Game in 1968. This time, it'll be the Derek Carr Game. And the Khalil Mack Game. The Raiders have too much young talent for the Jets, who will be wishing they were in Las Vegas. Record: 1-1.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24, vs. Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET

The Jets' coaches should put this note atop their offensive game plan: Make sure we try to block Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh. The Jets failed to do that last season, resulting in the most painful image of their rotten season: QB Bryce Petty in the middle of a Wake-Suh sandwich. This time, it'll be a different quarterback, but the result will be the same. Record: 1-2.

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET

This game has a delicious storyline. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone was the early favorite to succeed Ryan in 2015, but owner Woody Johnson got cold feet, hanging Marrone out to dry. This also will mark the return of former New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, the Jags' new football czar. Unfortunately for Coughlin and Marrone, they still have quarterback Blake Bortles, who will get harassed by the Jets' defensive front. Record: 2-2.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8, at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. ET

Anyone want to venture a guess on the quarterback matchup? That's a tough call. Maybe Josh McCown, cut in February by the Browns, will be starting for the Jets. Maybe Mitchell Trubisky, linked to the Jets in many mock drafts, will be the guy. Or maybe Trubisky will be starting for the Browns. No matter how it shakes out, the Jets will find a way to squeeze out a win. Record: 3-2.

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15, vs. New England Patriots, 1 p.m. ET

The Jets were noncompetitive in this rivalry last season, as they were outscored in two losses 63-20. The gap between the teams appears wider than ever, so it would take a minor miracle for the Jets to upset the defending Super Bowl champion. They won't. Record: 3-3.

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22, at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET

The Jets and Dolphins have a weird rivalry. From 2012 to 2016, the visiting team won eight of 10 meetings. The Jets apparently play better in front of the transplanted New Yorkers in South Florida than the real New Yorkers at MetLife Stadium. But not this year. Record: 3-4.

Week 8: Sunday, Oct.29, vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m. ET

The Jets are lucky because Falcons star receiver Julio Jones will get lost on Revis Island and ... oh, wait, the Jets don't have Darrelle Revis anymore -- or any shutdown corner, for that matter. That will be a problem against Jones, Matt Ryan & Co., who should post big numbers against the Jets' revamped secondary, assuming the Falcons have recovered from their Super Bowl hangover. Record: 3-5.

Week 9: Thursday, Nov. 2, vs. Buffalo Bills, 8:25 p.m. ET

This is the Jets' only prime-time appearance, a reflection of what the TV networks think of them. In a rematch of Week 1, the Bills -- now comfortable under their rookie coach -- will prevail in an ugly, low-scoring game that will validate the decision to keep the Jets out of the national spotlight. Record: 3-6.

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12, at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m. ET

The Jets have won eight straight against the Bucs, their longest current winning streak against any opponent and the second-longest in franchise history. In this rivalry, eight is enough. The Bucs, with the addition of DeSean Jackson, have too much firepower for the Jets. Record: 3-7.

Week 11: Bye

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26, vs. Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. ET

The Jets haven't hosted the Panthers since 2009, although the Panthers are familiar with MetLife Stadium. They played there as recently as 2015 -- the infamous Josh Norman-Odell Beckham Jr. game. The Jets match up well with the Panthers -- two teams that like to be physical -- and will spring an upset at home. Record: 4-7.

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3, vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m. ET

The Chiefs won't have QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to kick around -- remember last season's six-interception debacle? But they're still significantly better than the Jets. The Chiefs' secondary, featuring Eric Berry and Marcus Peters, will wreak havoc for the Jets' quarterback ... whoever it is. Record: 4-8.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10, at Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m. ET

A Christian Hackenberg-Paxton Lynch quarterback matchup would be interesting. A year ago, the Jets passed on Lynch in the first round, taking Hackenberg in the second. The decision doesn't look good, but maybe Hackenberg can change a few minds. Not on this day, though. The Jets won't be able to contain Von Miller & Co. Record: 4-9.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17, at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m. ET

This is the first of three straight games against future Hall of Fame quarterbacks -- Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Tom Brady. What a way to end the season. The Saints are a flawed team -- defense, anyone? -- but Brees & Co. will turn it into a track meet inside the dome. Record: 4-10.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 24, vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1 p.m. ET

New Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, a former Jets assistant and one of the good guys in the business, returns to his old turf. The time change makes this a tough trip for a West Coast team. The Jets give their fans an unexpected Christmas gift, but they'll be ticked off because it'll undermine the "Suck for Sam" (Darnold) campaign. Record: 5-10.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, at New England Patriots, 1 p.m. ET

Bowles' visit to Gillette Stadium last season was a nightmare. Not only did he get blown out, but he coached the game in severe pain, as he dealt with kidney and gall-bladder issues. This time, it'll be a different kind of discomfort, with rampant speculation about his job security. Record: 5-11.