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Rex reacts to Jets' season schedule, calls back-to-back DEN-NE matchups 'a huge challenge'

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan speaks to

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan speaks to the media during an NFL football news conference Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Credit: AP)

The NFL released the season schedules for all 32 teams Wednesday night, and the Jets have the ninth-toughest schedule, according to ESPN Stats and Information. They’ll open up the season at home against the Oakland Raiders, before traveling to Green Bay to face the Packers in Week 2. 

And that September meeting at Lambeau Field is a big relief for Ryan. 

“Absolutely,” the Jets coach said with a laugh, when asked on a Wednesday-night conference call if he was happy to face the Packers early in the season.

The Jets will play three of their first four games at MetLife Stadium, but their schedule gets tricky in Weeks 6 and 7 when they face the Denver Broncos at home on Sunday before traveling to New England for a Thursday-night showdown.

“Obviously that’s a huge challenge,” Ryan said. “It’s another year where we go on the road on a Thursday Night to play New England, [which] isn’t ideal.

“But again, we’ll be up for it. It is a challenge. You’re facing the two best teams in the AFC last year, who played in the [AFC] Championship Game, back-to-back. And then obviously, have the challenge of going on the road Thursday Night to play the Patriots. But, we’ll have a lot of football to play up until that and hopefully we’re hitting our stride when we play those two teams.”

The Jets caught a break with a September trip to Lambeau, but they’ll have to play the Vikings at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium – an outdoor venue – in early December.  

 “Obviously that [game] is going to be extremely cold,” said Ryan.

Speaking of December, newly-signed Jets running back Chris Johnson will return to Tennessee on Dec. 14 to face his former team, the Titans. And unlike in 2013, the Jets will play two Monday-night (Bears, Dolphins) games instead of just one.

Asked about the additional primetime slot, Ryan said: “I get excited about it because I know our players get excited about it. And for our football team, some of the fans, maybe on the West Coast, that maybe don’t get a whole lot of New York Jets games, this gives an opportunity to showcase some of our players and how we play football, the brand of football, the style of football that we play to the country.

“So I’m always excited about that. There are some challenges certainly when you play Monday Night games, Thursday Night games, but again, I think it’s great, especially for our players and our fans that maybe don’t get to see us play as much as our local fans do.”

Ryan said he was most pleased about starting off the season with three home games. The Jets posted a 6-2 record at MetLife Stadium last season – but they also played poorly on the road. And with three of their final four games on the road in December, Ryan said the Jets have no choice but to improve in enemy territory.

Jets' Regular Season Schedule

[Week 1] 9/7           Sunday     Oakland                1:00 p.m. (CBS)

[Week 2] 9/14         Sunday     at Green Bay         4:25 p.m.  (CBS)

[Week 3] 9/22         Monday     Chicago                8:30 p.m.  (ESPN) 

[Week 4] 9/28         Sunda        Detroit                  1:00 p.m.  (FOX)

[Week 5] 10/5         Sunday      at San Diego        4:25 p.m.^  (CBS)

[Week 6] 10/12       Sunday      Denver                  1:00 p.m.^  (CBS)

[Week 7] 10/16       Thursday    at New England    8:25 p.m. (CBS/NFLN)

[Week 8] 10/26       Sunday       Buffalo                 1:00 p.m.^  (CBS)

[Week 9] 11/2         Sunday       at Kansas City      1:00 p.m.^  (CBS) 

[Week 10] 11/9       Sunday       Pittsburgh             1:00 p.m.^  (CBS)

[Week 11]                              BYE WEEK                                                  

[Week 12] 11/23      Sunday       at Buffalo              1:00 p.m.*  (CBS)

[Week 13] 12/1        Monday      Miami                    8:30 p.m.   (ESPN)

[Week 14] 12/7        Sunday      at Minnesota          1:00 p.m.*  (CBS)

[Week 15] 12/14      Sunday       at Tennessee         4:05 p.m.*  (CBS)

[Week 16] 12/21      Sunday       New England         1:00 p.m.*  (CBS)

[Week 17] 12/28       Sunday      at Miami                1:00 p.m.*   (CBS)

^Subject to New Week 5-10 Flex Scheduling

*Subject to Week 11-17 Flex Scheduling

For the first time, flexible scheduling may be applied in Weeks 5-10. During that period, flexible scheduling can be used in no more than two weeks by shifting a Sunday afternoon game into primetime and moving the Sunday night game to an afternoon start time. 

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