Rapid Reaction: Breaking down the sked

April, 19, 2011
4/19/11
7:10
PM ET

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Even though the NFL is torn by labor strife, the games must go on ... on the schedule, that is.

The league released the full regular-season schedule Tuesday night for a season that might or might not occur, the ultimate tease for fans. Anyway, here's an analysis of what 2011 looks like for the Jets:

(Click here to see the full Jets schedule.)

NEW YORK-NEW YORK CAN WAIT: There was a lot of misplaced buzz about the prospect of a Jets-Giants opener on Sept. 11 -- the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The NFL decided to go in another direction, which makes you wonder whether the powers-that-be are concerned that the lockout will affect the start of the season. The Jets and Giants will play Christmas Eve, a Saturday -- and a Jets home game, starting at 1 p.m. ET.

RYAN VS. RYAN: The Jets open the 2011 season at home, a Sunday night showdown against the Cowboys. Do you know what that means? Five months of trash talk between Jets coach Rex Ryan and his twin brother, Rob, the Cowboys' new defensive coordinator. You can bet NBC will have a lot of sideline close-ups of the Ryans. (Early over-under line: five per quarter.)

They squared off last season when Rob was the Browns' defensive coordinator, and the Jets won late in OT 26-20. This time, the timing works in the Jets' favor. The Cowboys will be learning Rob's defensive system, and the growing pains will be compounded by all the time lost due to the lockout -- a nice break for Mark Sanchez & Co.

NICE AND SOFT: The Jets can't complain about the degree of difficulty in September. Their first three games are against non-playoff teams from 2010 -- Cowboys (6-10), Jaguars (8-8) and Raiders (8-8). That's a nice way to start the season, especially coming off a potentially long lockout. If the work stoppage cuts short the preseason, the relatively soft start (if there is such a thing) will allow the Jets to iron out issues, break in new personnel and ease into the more difficult stretch.

ROAD KILL: The Jets are on the road for three consecutive games, Weeks 3 through 5 -- at Oakland, at Baltimore and at New England. That's a brutal stretch. The Ravens, always physical, are the last team you want to play before having to face the Patriots at their place. The Patriots will be highly motivated after their shocking loss to the Jets in last season's divisional playoffs.

PRIME-TIME JETS: No surprise here, but the Jets -- a marquee team -- have landed five night games. After Dallas in Week 1, they have a Sunday night in Baltimore (Week 4), a Monday night at home against the Dolphins (Week 6), a Sunday night at home against the Patriots (Week 10) and a Thursday night at Denver (Week 11).

TOUGH TURNAROUND: The schedule maker had it out for the Jets in November, giving them back-to-back prime-time games in the span of five days. The latter is the Thursday night contest in Denver. Getting acclimated to the thin air of Denver is tough enough in a normal week, let alone an abbreviated one.

FACING THE BIG BOYS: The Jets have only five games against 2010 playoff teams -- the Patriots (twice), Ravens, Eagles and Chiefs -- and those games are spread evenly over the entire schedule. That's a bonus for the Jets.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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