With the bye week now in their rearview mirror, it's officially time for the Jets to get back to work and focus on the road ahead. Barring a collapse, who the Jets play in the weeks to come and what implications that will have on a potential playoff drive will certainly be on the minds of the team's fan base.
A trip to Buffalo to play the Bills is up next on a schedule, which has just seven games remaining. Gang Green is catching the Bills at just the right time as Buffalo has lost five of their last six games. The Jets won the first meeting of the season despite committing a whopping 20 penalties, but also gained more than 500 yards in total offense. Quarterback EJ Manuel returned to action for the Bills this past Sunday after missing the last few weeks with a sprained right knee, and the Jets would be wise to test his mobility by blitzing him early and often.
The team will then head to Baltimore to play their second straight game on the road following their bye. The Ravens have had some struggles lately of their own, blowing a 17-0 halftime lead, and narrowly avoided a catastrophic loss in their most recent game with the Cincinnati Bengals.
A loss would have been their fourth defeat in a row had they not won in overtime. While this game appeared to be a surefire loss when the schedule was originally released, it now seems like more of a tossup as the season continues to shake out.
December 1 will mark the first home game for the Jets in nearly a month, as well as the first time all season they'll play the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are currently in the midst of a bizarre saga involving teammates Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, and what effects it has on the team remains to be seen. Regardless, the Dolphins, like the Bills and Ravens, haven't played their best football of late, having lost four of their last five games, and could officially be in a tailspin by the time the two teams meet.
Continuing the theme of teams on the schedule who aren't playing well, the Oakland Raiders await the Jets after their game against the Dolphins. Oakland, as luck would have it, has lost three of their last four games and has a long losing streak playing games on the East Coast.
It's possible the Jets won't play a team with a winning record again until Week 15. Going on the road against a solid Carolina Panthers team is without question the toughest game remaining on the schedule. Carolina wasn't predicted to be much of a factor heading into the season, but, like the Jets, they feature a defensive front seven that is good enough to keep them in any contest.
The final home game of the year for the Jets will take place on Dec. 22 against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are currently just a game behind the Jets for the final playoff spot in the AFC, but Cleveland's tough schedule over the next few weeks could have them out of the race by the second-to-last week of the season.
The Jets will close out the regular season by escaping the cold weather and playing the Dolphins in Miami. Sun Life Stadium, and all of the other names it has been called over the years, is notorious for being a home away from home for the Jets as the crowd is often filled with fans who are either New York transplants or those that have made the trip to Florida for a weekend getaway.
Games with division rivals are always important but, depending on how the next month and half plays out, this one could be of great significance.
On paper, it appears the Jets have a realistic chance to play meaningful games well into December. But given how wildly inconsistent and unpredictable the team has played this season, thinking about the playoffs in the middle of November and mapping out possible scenarios is a bit premature.
Whatever losing streak their opponent might be carrying into a game is moot if the Jets don't become a team that plays good football on a weekly basis. Gang Green can start turning things around by going into Buffalo and walking out with their first two-game winning streak of the season.