NEW YORK (AP) — Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets will make four prime-time television appearances this season, including a Thanksgiving night matchup at home against the AFC East-rival New England Patriots.
The Jets will play two Monday night games — at home against Houston on Oct. 8 and at Tennessee on Dec. 17 — and will play a Sunday night game against San Diego at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 23. The schedule, announced by the NFL on Tuesday night, marks the third straight season the Jets have had at least four prime-time games.
"That's always good," coach Rex Ryan said during a conference call. "It's good to be involved in that. I know the players get excited, and I think the fans get excited for those prime-time games. It's a challenging schedule."
The Jets will play on Thanksgiving night for the second time in three seasons after playing Cincinnati at home in 2010. The game against Tom Brady and the Patriots on Nov. 22 could go a long way in helping decide the division, with the teams slated to play earlier in New England on Oct. 21.
"Oh man, that one's going to be a beauty, there's no doubt," Ryan said. "It's a late-night one and our fans are going to be ready to roll. I know New England has a tremendous team and everything, so it's going to be a great challenge for us. ... I hope my wife's got the green bean casserole ready for after the game."
Tebow, the popular backup quarterback who was recently acquired from Denver, will play in his first regular-season home game for the Jets in Week 1 when New York takes on Buffalo on Sept. 9. He'll also return to his hometown of Jacksonville when the Jets play there on Dec. 9.
Another intriguing matchup will be Nov. 18, when the Jets play at St. Louis against Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who served in the same role in New York the last six years.
"Man, I told him a lot of things that bothered us (defensively), so we're going to be expecting all of it, that's for sure." Ryan said. "Clearly, going against Brian will be a challenge."
After opening against the Bills, the Jets will also close the regular season at Buffalo on Dec. 30. It marks only the second time in franchise history that the Jets will start and end the season against the same team.
New York will take on three of last season's playoff teams in a four-week span after Week 1, including at Pittsburgh (Sept. 16) and at home against San Francisco (Sept. 30) and Houston.
"That's definitely a tough stretch," Ryan said. "Fortunately, we traditionally can get out of the blocks pretty good and we're going to need to."
Another potentially difficult part of the schedule will come in December, when the Jets are on the road for three of their last four games — at Jacksonville, at Tennessee and the regular-season finale at Buffalo. The Sunday night game against the Chargers is their only home date in that span.
"You definitely kind of see that clump of games right there and it's like, 'Whew, man, that's a tough December,'" Ryan said. "But, you're going into some decent weather with Jacksonville and Tennessee, and I kind of like San Diego coming to our place in December. I think that's a good thing. It presents certain challenges, but we'll be ready for it."