For only the second time in franchise history, the Jets will start and end the season against the same opponent. They'll open against the Bills at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 9 and visit Buffalo Dec. 30.
In Weeks 4-8, the Jets play only one road game (Patriots, Oct. 21), but they face a critical December stretch in which three of their final four games are on the road: Jacksonville (Tim Tebow's hometown), Tennessee and Buffalo.
"That's definitely a tough stretch, there's no doubt," Ryan said. "You see that little clump of games there and it's like 'Whoo! That's a tough December.' "
Although he called the Jets' schedule "challenging," the coach also said it was "real balanced."
The Jets, who were 8-8 last year, have a Week 9 bye, and by then they'll need all the rest they can get. Three of their first five games will be against 2011 playoff teams: Pittsburgh (Week 2), San Francisco (Week 4) and Houston (Week 5).
But Ryan seemed optimistic. "Traditionally, we get out of the blocks pretty good, and we're going to need to,'' he said. "I'm glad we're going to Cortland this year. I think that's good for us.''
In Week 11, the Jets will face their former offensive coordinator in St. Louis. Brian Schottenheimer didn't always see eye to eye with Ryan's heavy use of the ground-and-pound approach. "Going against Brian certainly will be a challenge," the coach said.
But perhaps the matchup Ryan is most excited about is the Thanksgiving night game with the Patriots.
"Oh man, that one's gonna be a beauty. There's no doubt," he said. "I hope my wife has the green bean casserole ready for after the game."