I can still hear New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott yelling “Can’t Wait!” at ESPN sideline reporter Sal Paolantonio after the Jets defeated the New England Patriots 28-21 to return to the AFC Championship game for a second straight year in January 2011. That was the last time the Jets made the playoffs. New York fans have been eagerly waiting to not only get back to that moment -- and reach an AFC Championship game again --  but also just to make a postseason appearance.

Many believe and feel the Jets are a quarterback away from a playoff return. With Aaron Rodgers trade rumors circulating, and the Jets rumored as his landing spot, New York fans are now on the edge of their seats.

Odds to win AFC East 2023-24

Buffalo Bills +100
New York Jets +250
Miami Dolphins +450
New England Patriots +650

Odds are subject to change*

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The New York Jets were 7-10 last season, finishing last in the AFC East division. Six of those losses, however, all came withing one possession of being victories, and that has Jets fans excited about this upcoming season. The Jets have their defense set, as they ranked fourth in fewest total yards allowed and fourth in fewest points allowed per game last season. While their offense was on the opposite side of that spectrum -- ranking 29th in total points per game -- many feel that the Jets are just a quarterback away from not only being the AFC East champion, but also having a true chance to compete for the AFC championship.

Top 5 reasons why the New York Jets will win the AFC East in the 2023-24 NFL season

  1. The New York Jets Defense
    The New York Jets roster again features a stout defense. The Jets allowed 311.1 total yards last season, ranking fourth behind the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Commanders. They also allowed only 18.6 points per game to rank fourth behind the San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills and the Baltimore Ravens. While the Jets have some defensive players to re-sign this off-season, including linebacker C.J. Mosely, defensive end Carl Lawson, and safety Jordan Whitehead, their defense should look very similar to last season’s. If the defense repeats its success, the ceiling and expectations should be very high for the Jets next season.
  2. Aaron Rodgers to the Jets If the Green Bay Packers trade Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets this off-season, the move would completely shake up the AFC. The Jets are just a quarterback and wide receiver or two away from being an AFC East championship team and true contender for the overall AFC title. Simply adding Rodgers without getting any new weapons at the wide receiver position would still be enough to increase the Jets’ odds to reach the playoffs as AFC East champions. We’ve seen Rodgers make it work with pedestrian-level wide receivers in the past, and he could certainly produce with the current Jets weapons.

    There are still some critics out there that continue to bring up Rodgers “struggles” from last season and how he “fell off” in his accuracy compared to years past. While that is true -- Rodgers threw double-digit interceptions for the first time in his career since 2010 -- there are a lot of factors involved in that decline. For starters, he was playing with a new wide-receiver corps. Including two rookies in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. Any quarterback in the NFL would have struggled with two rookie wide receivers in starting roles, because there’s an adjustment period for every rookie entering the league.

    The critics just want to focus on his interceptions and take the lazy approaching in declaring that Rodgers has lost a step and is done. Yet among his 12 interceptions last season, eight came in the first half of the year. Once he developed chemistry with his young receiving corps, he looked like the old Rodgers again. And while everyone wants to throw shade -- as the kids say -- at Rodgers for his 12 interceptions, don’t forget that Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and reigning Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City both threw 12 interceptions last season as well.
  3. The Buffalo Bills struggles The Buffalo Bills might have peaked in the 2020 season, as fans, and even Bills players, are now starting to realize it. The 2020 season was a high for Buffalo with the Bills making it to their first AFC championship game since 1994, putting them one win away from returning to the Super Bowl. The Kansas City Chiefs would go onto defeat the Bills in that AFC championship game and eventually go onto win the Super Bowl that year, and since that 2020 season, the Bills haven’t even come close to returning to an AFC championship game. Despite having the best defense in the AFC last season, the Bills completely fell apart in the playoffs -- allowing an average of 29 points over two games and losing to the Cincinnati Bengals 27-10 in the divisional round.

    Frustration is starting to settle in for the Bills and it’s not even clear if star wide receiver Stefon Diggs wants to be in Buffalo after publicly voicing his complaints about the situation. We all remember quarterback Josh Allen before Diggs arrived. Allen was night and day as he didn’t even come close to exceeding 4,000 passing yards and 30 passing touchdowns pre-Diggs. The Bills are also set to lose a few players this season. Safety Jordan Poyer will be a huge loss for their defense, and if Diggs doesn’t want to play with Allen, the resulting  turmoil in Buffalo would leave the AFC East door wide open.
  4. The rest of the AFC East teams Don’t get me wrong. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa played very well last season and proved that he could be a franchise quarterback in this league. However, his health is a major concern and he’s likely a few concussions away from retirement. His former college head coach, Nick Saban, voiced such concerns this week.

    "I hate it that he’s having these issues and problems," Saban said on Stephen A. Smith's podcast. "I would trust the medical staff to make the right choices and decisions for his safety, his future. I’d love to see him continue to be able to play and have success, but I don’t want him to put himself at risk either. I think any time that guys start having multiple concussions, it’s a cause for concern. But again, I think that’s got to be sort of ‘How concerning is it?’ is a medical question that needs to be answered by some people who are experts in that field."

    That’s the million-dollar question: “How concerning is it?” With Tagovailoa’s health already a major concern for next season, his next concussion would be likely to again sideline him for multiple weeks and take the Dolphins out of the AFC East race.

    As for the New England Patriots, offense must be the focal point after the team ranked 26th in total yards per game last season. Their offensive line needs improvement, and New England should look for another quarterback because Mac Jones just isn’t it. Since it appears that the Patriots will stick with Jones for next season, it doesn’t even matter that the team brought in Bill O’Brien to run its offense. Nothing is going to change or improve with Jones starting at QB.
  5. Land a wide receiver
    Trade rumors involving wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins are circulating -- as the Arizona Cardinals have begun a rebuild of their own -- and a slew of other veteran wide receivers will also available in free agency, the Jets have all the opportunity in the world to improve third depth at wide receiver during this off-season. Even if New York can’t land Hopkins, there’s enough veteran talent out there for them to pick up via free agency. That includes Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., D.J. Chark and others. The Jets also have the 13th overall draft pick and could make a splash by adding a rookie wide receiver from a 2023 draft class that is loaded with talent.

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