- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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No, the Jets don't open with the Dolphins. Despite the anticipation of matching up against Jason Taylor's former team, complete with showtime wide receiver Brandon Marshall, that matchup will be in Miami on week 3 and again on Dec. 12 when the Jets host the Dolphins.
"We want to win our division," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "You've got to win those games. We have three of our first four games against divisional opponents. Those are the ones that get you."
The Jets may have to wait for Miami, but the NFL has given the Jets a worthy opponent in Week 1. The Ravens will be the first opponent for the Jets at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Monday Sept. 13 on ESPN. Rex Ryan's former team will offer plenty of storylines, and a competitive game.
"I know [Baltimore coach John Harbaugh] is going to have his guys popping out of their skin," Ryan said. "I have a funny feeling we're going to play with some emotion also that game, but that one's going to be a great game."
The Jets could face their old quarterback Brett Favre when the Vikings come to New York on Oct. 11, for another Monday night game. Favre has yet to reveal whether or not he plans to come back yet, but if past decision making is any indication, he'll be back in cleats after training camp.
As for weather, the Jets won't get a break from the cold late in the season. The visit to the Dolphins takes place on Sept. 26 and the last four games are, in order, hosting the Dolphins, traveling to Pittsburgh and Chicago, and closing the regular season when the Bills visit.
It might not be as exciting as a season finish against the Patriots or Dolphins, but Jets fans can console themselves with the knowledge that those two division rivals end the season against each other.
2010 Prediction: 11-5
Five biggest games
Ravens at the Jets on Sept. 13: It's the first game of the season, on Monday night and in the new stadium that won't have the name "Giants" on the side of it. Rex Ryan wanted to be the head coach in Baltimore, and don't think he isn't a little bitter about the way things worked out there. This game sets the tone, and a win over the Ravens would cement Ryan's assertion that "It's on."
Jets at Dolphins on Sept. 26: It's the third game of the season and the Jets head down to see if Miami's new wide receiver, Brandon Marshall, gets shut down by cornerback Darrelle Revis. This one's in prime time.
Vikings at Jets on Oct. 11: Brett Favre hasn't said definitively that he's coming back, but if past performance is any indication, it'll happen just as the Vikings are ending training camp. Jets fans will no doubt react to seeing their cup-of-coffee quarterback back at the Meadowlands.
Bengals at the Jets on Nov. 25: Have some turkey and watch the Jets take on the team they beat back-to-back, to end the regular season and then win the wild-card game. Revis will no doubt check Chad OchoCinco's Twitter account pregame for motivation.
Jets at Patriots on Dec. 6: This is the one in Foxborough. Truth is, this would be a better matchup for the end of the season, but if it has to be in early December, so be it. A bitter division rivalry, possibly for a tiebreak or the AFC East title.
The rest of the AFC schedule
The NFL did a smart thing with this schedule, putting the division games at the beginning and the end of the season. This was in response to the idea that teams were resting players late in the season last year to avoid wear and tear during "meaningless" games. So division titles and tiebreakers will be on the line. As tough as it will be for the Jets to face the Dolphins and Patriots, the Jets end with the Bills while the Patriots and Dolphins have to play each other to end the season.
5hEric D. Williams
1dSharon Katz & Hank Gargiulo