Life's easier the lower you keep everyone's expectations. Bill Waterson once had Calvin impart that wisdom in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, and the Jets are about to find that out as well. Last year, Coach Eric Mangini worked wonders to get the team into the playoffs and created a situation where media and fans will be looking for more. Don't be surprised if the team doesn't improve upon last year's results.

Many fans don't pay attention to the offensive linemen -- after all, they're not among the "skilled positions" -- but the five men in front play some of the most important roles in the game. That's why Jets fans could be second-guessing Mangini if the Jets' decision to trade Pete Kendall after a contract disagreement doesn't work out. Kendall, a veteran, will likely be replaced by rookie Jacob Bender, who was drafted as a right tackle and must now move to left guard. Rookies on offensive lines don't often work out that well.

Speaking of contract disputes and rookies, Darrelle Revis ended his holdout midway through training camp and could begin the season as a starting cornerback. The Jets are high on him, and they'll see if that hype is rewarded. With Mangini's schemes and some solid personnel, the defense shouldn't be a liability.

On offense, the Jets still have Chad Pennington, a careful quarterback with a low ceiling that usually avoids mistakes. Kellen Clemens is waiting in the wings, but Pennington appears to have the full confidence of Mangini. The closest thing to a playmaker is Laveranues Coles. He had over 1,000 yards receiving last season to go with his six touchdowns, and he'll probably sign up for that right now. Running back Thomas Jones has been banged up with a strained calf all preseason, so who knows what he'll be able to provide?

As for the schedule, the Jets have a difficult one. They have two games each against each of their AFC East foes -- of course -- and they match up against the AFC Central and the NFC East. Throw in a game each against Tennessee and Kansas City and the result is a season with few breathers. Don't forget how cake the middle stretch of last season was.

The season won't get off to an easy start. New England visits the Meadowlands, a place in which the Patriots haven't lost since 2000. Tom Brady has a complete arsenal of weapons. The Patriots won't have a complete defense, but they won't need one to stop the Jets.

Photo of new Jets captain Laveranues Coles and Lions safety Daniel Bullocks from last October's game by AP/Bill Kostroun