Oakland for sure will have a new starting quarterback for its opener at the Jets. The real question is whether New York will as well. The Jets are 4.5-point favorites on NFL odds with a total of 39.5 points that's the lowest on the board.
Schaub vs. ????
We know that barring an injury Matt Schaub will be Oakland's Week 1 starter. The team acquired him from Houston for only a sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft. That's pretty good value for a starter -- a handful of other teams were hoping the Texans were simply going to cut Schaub and they could pick him up (Cleveland for one). Schaub originally had a $10 million base salary for the 2014 season, which scared most other teams away from swinging a trade, but he restructured his deal with Oakland.
Coach Dennis Allen has said he thinks Schaub is still a Top-10 quarterback in the NFL. Maybe he is, but Schaub clearly lost confidence early last season in Houston, throwing a pick-six in an NFL record four straight games (ironically, he threw a pick-six in his first OTA workout with Oakland). He also led the Texans to division titles in 2011-12 and will only be 33 when the season begins. The deal also allowed Oakland to bypass a QB with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft and take Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. He's the +400 second-favorite on NFL odds to Houston's Jadeveon Clowney for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Raiders did take their potential future QB in the second round, Fresno State's Derek Carr.
Meanwhile, the Jets brought in Michael Vick to push/mentor second-year quarterback Geno Smith, who was predictably inconsistent last season after being thrown into the fire Week 1. Coach Rex Ryan has said the job is open, but Vick recently admitted that it really isn't. Vick all but conceded the job, saying it's not an open competition and that "I would assume that Geno would be the starter".
Perhaps Vick has mellowed in his old age, but he also won a competition last year at Eagles camp with Nick Foles, only to lose the job due to injury early in the regular season. In addition, Smith was responsible for 25 turnovers last season and was the lowest-rated passer in the league. It will be interesting to see if Ryan goes with the veteran Vick, who is only on a one-year deal, if he only slightly outplays Smith in camp and the preseason. Smith, after all, might be the future.
If Vick wins the job, Jets' fans might not recognize this offense much. New addition Chris Johnson, formerly of the Titans, is expected to be the No. 1 running back. Eric Decker, formerly of Denver, will be the No. 1 receiver. Guys like Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes have moved on.
In Week 14 of last season the Jets were 3-point home favorites for NFL picks with a total of 39 and won 37-27, the most points scored for New York all year. Smith had one of the better games of his rookie year, completing 16 of 25 for 219 yards with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley and 8-yard scoring run. That latter TD essentially put the game on ice as the Jets took a 27-10 lead midway through the third quarter. Chris Ivory rushed for 76 yards and a TD. New York entered the game having lost three straight but avoided its first-ever four-game skid under Ryan. Matt McGloin threw for 245 yards and two scores for the Raiders, but he won't be playing in this game unless Schaub is hurt. Rod Streater caught seven McGloin passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.
NFL free picks: Jets -4.5 and 'under' 39.5 points on NFL odds. New York is 4-1 ATS in its past five home games. The 'under' has hit in 11 of Oakland's past 17 against the AFC. The 'under' is 4-1 in the Jets' past five vs. the AFC.