NFL New York Jets

5 Toughest Games for New York Jets in 2013 Season

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5 Toughest Games for New York Jets

Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

Each season brings a renewed sense of hope for each NFL team. Even the New York Jets have reason to believe that this year will be different. The technique of new general manager John Idzik appears to be signing free agents with potential while selecting college prospects who are deemed best available. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith possesses exciting traits like athleticism and accuracy, and fellow prospects such as left guard Brian Winters establish a presence. There are some concerns that remain from last year’s 6-10 campaign.

Passing did not prove to be a strength as leading receiver Santonio Holmes went down early with a Lisfranc injury, and Stephen Hill struggled to transition from an option offense that he played in at Georgia Tech. New York's 26th ranked run defense should be better if defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis improves as expected.

On paper, New York faces an “easier” slate of opponents as just five games on the schedule are against playoff teams from last season. There was also a statement made by the schedule makers giving the Jets two prime time contests. Intrigue starts right away as everyone now knows that they begin their season by hosting former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The league has always found a way to bring an interesting story.

Parity that exists makes each outing difficult, but five games will serve as the biggest challenges for the Jets who seek to improve their 6-10 record from 2012. One opponent on the list is an arch-rival who has dominated New York for most of this past decade.

Here are the five biggest games for the Jets in the 2013 season.

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Week 11: AT Baltimore Ravens

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It is very difficult to gauge how good the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens will be. Ray Lewis is gone and on offense there was no point in trading wide receiver Anquan Boldin. At the same time picking up players like defensive ends Elvis Dumervil and Chris Canty helped retool their defense. Torrey Smith is a dynamic playmaker, and of course Terrell Suggs can be counted on to wreak havoc at linebacker.

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Week 2: VS New England Patriots

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Dealing with one of the best quarterbacks of all time is hard enough. Playing against quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots twice a year presents quite a challenge. New England has won an AFC East title 10 times with Brady under center. Although the Patriots have supposedly seen a decline in receiving talent, Brady will have his way with a mostly young Jets secondary.

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Week 5: AT Atlanta Falcons

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The Jets receive a bit of a break following their first game against New England as consecutive weeks see them take on the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans. While each year is different those games look a bit easier based on last year. A club that should not be taken lightly is the Atlanta Falcons. They were moments away from advancing to the NFC Championship Game, and quarterback Matt Ryan appears ready to take the next step towards becoming elite. Despite losing players like Brent Grimes and John Abraham, the Falcons remain solid on defense.

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Week 9: VS New Orleans Saints

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By now a theme should be visible. When going against the best quarterbacks I believe the Jets will struggle. The New Orleans Saints have their head coach back in Sean Payton. That alone makes them better, although if Geno Smith plays it could be a shootout.

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Week 7: AT New England Patriots

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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has too much of a defensive reputation for this unit to continue its recent poor play. Whether New York’s quarterback is Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith they likely will struggle. I don’t expect another butt fumble, but the Patriots probably complete another sweep in this series.