Release of Schedule Raises Jets Expectations Another Notch

Five prime time games for the NFL's newest darlings

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Criticism of the Jets' offseason moves have focused on the idea that the team is acting like they've won a championship when their entire playoff run was set up by the luck of the schedule more than anything else.

    It's a fair critique, especially in a league where it is easy to go from zero to hero and back again in the blink of an eye, but it isn't one the NFL and their broadcasting partners seem to share.

    The 2010 schedule came out on Tuesday night and the unescapeable takeaway is that the Jets have been given the spot of the league's marquee franchise. They play in prime time on Sunday or Monday night in three of the first five weeks of the season, have a Thanksgiving night/Monday night doubleheader in Weeks 12 and 13 and have two more late afternoon Sunday starts on the bill.

    Those games, against New England and Denver, are very likely to wind up on national television as the back end of network doubleheaders which would give the Jets a minimum of seven nationally televised games this season. Only 11 games have firm start times at this point and it isn't hard to see late season games with the Texans, Dolphins or Steelers being added to that nationwide figure before all is said and done. Throw in "Hard Knocks" and there aren't going to be many football fans complaining that they aren't getting their Mark Sanchez fix this season.

    All of that visibility is great and there's little chance that Rex Ryan and company think for one second they aren't deserving of all the love the league is slathering on them right now. Such love and visibility only raises the bar for the Jets, however, and will make it harder to view anything short of a return trip to the AFC Championship Game as a disappointment. There's absolutely nothing wrong with setting that kind of expectation for yourself, but it might be more difficult trying to meet it while being treated as the marquee team for the entire NFL.  

    Woody Johnson's fondest wish for the 2010 season and the opening of the new Meadowlands stadium was that the Jets would complete their move out of the shadow of the Giants. As it turns out, the team could be playing in a vacant lot on Staten Island and they'd have accomplished that goal. Now comes the hard part.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.