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NFL thinks Jets ‘owe us one’ with primetime-heavy schedule after Aaron Rodgers injury disaster

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The NFL is looking for a do-over from the Jets.

That is basically what Mike North, the NFL vice president of broadcast planning, said Thursday on a Zoom call with reporters about the league giving the Jets six prime-time games in the first 11 weeks of the season, something that no team has ever had before.

“That’s an awful lot of prime-time games early in the season,” North said, “but obviously we feel like the Jets kind of owe us one. We had this conversation a year ago. All of us were all in on the Jets. For that guy [Aaron Rodgers] to last four plays was disheartening for many of us.”

That comment that the “Jets kind of owe us one” is not going to go over well in Florham Park. The Jets had five prime-time games last season, plus a stand-alone game on Black Friday.

NFL vice president of broadcast planning Mike North. The Official Jets Podcast

Rodgers tore his left Achilles in Week 1 on “Monday Night Football” against the Bills and suddenly the Jets were a much less attractive team but were already in those prime-time windows.

This year, North said the networks are all looking for a piece of the Rodgers’ return storyline and that led to the early scheduling of prime-time games.

North also raised the point that the Jets may get more than six prime-time games if they remain relevant later in the season when the league flexes games into prime time.

“[We] feel like we can run it back and certainly our broadcast partners when they came to us early in the process talking about what storylines they want to focus on early in the season obviously Aaron Rodgers’ return was a key one for everybody,” North said. “Everybody was kind of looking for an early-season Aaron Rodgers opportunity and the Jets were feisty last year.”

The Jets are one of three teams with six prime-time games. The 49ers and Cowboys are the others. San Francisco is the defending NFC champions and Dallas has made the playoffs in three straight seasons.

The NFL and its broadcast partners are banking on a healthy Aaron Rodgers in 2024. Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

The Jets have a 13-year playoff drought, so they are a risky pick for the NFL to spotlight.

“There’s no question we’re counting on them,” North said. “Hopefully [Rodgers] stays healthy and hopefully they’re relevant. That is a lot of prime early in the season and it may not be the end of it. You think about their stretch down the back end. I think they play the Rams, Seattle, Miami and maybe Buffalo down the stretch. There’s certainly even more of an opportunity to find their way to national television if they’re relevant.”

Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles four plays into the Jets’ first drive last season. Getty Images

The Jets’ early schedule is challenging not because of who they play but when they play.

They have three games in 10 days to open the season, going from San Francisco on a Monday to Nashville on a Sunday and then playing their home opener on a Thursday.

North said the Jets not facing many 2023 playoff teams early in the season softened the blow of having to play on short weeks twice in the first three weeks.

“We all liked Jets-Patriots in Week 3 there for Amazon,” North said. “We saw schedules where the Jets were on the road in San Francisco for Week 1 and then a home game and then play that Thursday game on the road in New England. If that home game were Seattle and that Thursday game were on the road, it’s still three games in 10 days. Is that better? Is that more fair? You think about not just where you play but who you play. They happen to run into Tennessee, New England and Denver [in Week 4], three teams that did not make the playoffs last year. Obviously, the three games in 10 days is a challenge but didn’t feel like the gauntlet of three teams that made deep playoff runs last year. That might have given us a little bit more pause.”

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