How will the Jets, under a first-year head coach, respond? Everyone wants to know what will happen. We breakdown the NFL odds in search of valuable preseason picks.
Of all the preseason games coming up in the NFL the next few days, none might be quite as interesting as the one involving the New York Jets and the Detroit Lions for reasons that pertain entirely to the Jets. The ridiculous but true story of starting quarterback Geno Smith getting sucker-punched in the face and sidelined for six to 10 weeks has made the Jets a laughingstock around the league.
What We Know About The Coaches
Todd Bowles will be coaching his first preseason game in the NFL. He’s finally become a head coach after being the defensive coordinator in Philadelphia and Arizona. Bowles will find this experience to be entirely new, even though it’s still football and it’s still something he’s been preparing for all his life.
Detroit coach Jim Caldwell is 5-11 all-time in the preseason, but 3-1 last season with the Lions after a previous stop in Indianapolis with the Colts. Neither coach inspires much of any trust from a betting standpoint, but this is Bowles’ first preseason game ever as a head coach, so while Detroit doesn’t necessarily have the better coach for this situation, the Jets have the worse one.
This is the story of the game, and weirdly enough, it might work to the Jets’ favor in the preseason. The regular season might be a different story.
With Geno Smith getting knocked out of the lineup, the Jets will put Ryan Fitzpatrick into the starting spot, and he should get a full half to play since he’ll need to be the starter for opening day… or at least, he’ll need to be prepared to be if the team needs him. Bowles instantly has a mini-crisis on his hands in terms of getting Fitzpatrick in shape to be the starting quarterback. Fitzpatrick expected to be the backup at the beginning of training camp, but that’s different now.
Yet, this can be a benefit to the Jets solely in preseason games. Why? Fitzpatrick has extensive experience as a starting quarterback in both Buffalo and Tennessee. Compared to a lot of other second-string quarterbacks, including Detroit’s Kellen Moore, Fitzpatrick is pretty decent. Since he’ll get more playing time in the absence of Smith, the Jets might score a lot of points in the first half.
Detroit backup Kellen Moore will want to make this game count after Matthew Stafford plays one or two series as the starter. Moore was a star in college at Boise State, so he’s trying to continually build his package of skills. He might be okay in this game, but Fitzpatrick will probably outplay him.
Team Depth & Rotations
The rest of the game boils down to a question of how focused the Jets will be after this drama involving their quarterback, Geno Smith, and linebacker I.K. Enemkpali, who was immediately picked up by the Buffalo Bills and head coach Rex Ryan, who naturally used to coach the Jets. It could be the kind of thing that makes a team feel depressed and embarrassed, and takes away from the energy of every player. However, the fact that Enemkpali is already off the team should make guys play harder and realize that this episode is a thing of the past. Will the Jets be inspired after all this, or deflated? It’s probably going to be the latter.
Detroit just isn’t as much of a focal point in this game. Everyone wants to see how the Jets react. Nevertheless, the Lions want to develop their running game, with Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah backing up starter Joique Bell. Detroit also wants to see if second-string defensive players such as struggling linebacker Kyle Van Noy can make progress before the season begins.
As long as the Jets are motivated, they probably get the edge here, though it’s close.
Outlook & Pick
Do the Jets play with fire or with no heart at all. That’s the question. There’s no sure thing, but New York will probably want to prove a point and go all-out in this one. Take the Jets.
NFL Pick: Jets +4 at Bovada