MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 02: Head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs talks to Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LIV against the San Francisco 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida.
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Playoffs are the goal in 2020 for the New York Jets. Here are their five most important games on the schedule for achieving that goal.

Danny Small

The New York Jets are entering a crucial year. It’s Sam Darnold‘s third year and a big leap is expected. Adam Gase enters year two as the head coach after an up-and-down first season running the show.

But unlike years past, the Jets have some momentum heading into 2020. First off, Darnold led New York to six wins over the final eight games of the season. General manager Joe Douglas built on that momentum with much-needed pickups in free agency and a dominant draft.

Although the final half of 2019 and the 2020 offseason have Jets fans giddy about the future, it all means nothing if the Jets don’t capitalize on the field. The NFL is set to release its schedule sometime this week, but the matchups are already known.

Here are the five most important games the Jets will play in 2020.

5. San Francisco 49ers (home)

This is a chance for the Jets to test themselves against the best in the NFC. The 49ers have made some changes on both sides of the ball this offseason, but they should be a contender once again.

A strong showing from Gase and the Jets against Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers would show that Gang Green is for real.

4. Cleveland Browns (home)

The Jets and Browns always seem to match up with each other on the schedule. Once again, Darnold will be slinging it against the one quarterback who was taken before him in the 2018 NFL Draft—Baker Mayfield.

Darnold’s Jets are winless against Mayfield and the Browns in two tries. This game is going to be massive given the fact that both Cleveland and New York should compete for a playoff spot in 2020. Although the Browns underachieved in 2019, they are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. This game could serve as a playoff tiebreaker down the line.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (road)

Take everything I said about the 49ers and double it.

Beating Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium would be massive for the Jets. The Chiefs are the favorites to win the Super Bowl again and outside of the Baltimore Ravens, there aren’t many serious contenders in the AFC.

After all the offseason improvements, the Jets should be able to keep up with high-powered offenses. A better line will give Darnold more time to operate in the pocket. However, keeping up with the Chiefs is a tall order, but not impossible.

A shootout victory against Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champions would signal that the Jets are a threat in the AFC.

2. Buffalo Bills (road)

Like it or not, the Jets have a legitimate shot at winning the AFC East this year. The Buffalo Bills are a threat, no doubt, but they are vulnerable. If not for a C.J. Mosley injury in Week 1 last year, the Jets could have swept the playoff-bound Bills in 2019.

Betting odds say that Buffalo has a good chance at winning the division. If the Jets want to stop them, they’ll have to take care of business in Orchard Park.

1. New England Patriots (road)

Sure, the division is as wide open as it has been in over a decade, but the New England Patriots are still the top dog. Sure, Tom Brady is gone, but Bill Belichick still reigns.

Make no mistake, the 2020 Patriots won’t be invincible. The offense is pinning its hopes on second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham. The defense is still going to be dominant, but the NFL is an offensive league.

The Jets were outscored 63-14 in their two games against New England last season. The AFC East still runs through those pesky Pats and winning one in Foxboro would give the Jets a major edge.

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