Will Any Team Go 0-16 This Season? Tanking Jets Just Might

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 4:31 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jun. 7, 2017 4:31 PM UTC

Every NFL season, SBR’s top-rated sportsbooks release a prop on whether a team will go 0-16. And every season, I recommend betting no there. I might be changing my tune for 2017 because of the tanking New York Jets.

Tanking Sometimes Works

Tanking is a dirty word to some, but it happens and it’s the easiest way to get a star regardless of sport because you are drafting so high. Look at last year’s Chicago Cubs. They tanked from 2011-14 but were able to load up on great young players in the draft, led by reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant. He helped lead the Cubs to their first World Series title last year since 1908. This year’s Houston Astros did the same tank job as the Cubs from 2011-13 and it’s now paying dividends as Houston is the best team in baseball this year.

Perhaps in no sport is tanking more obvious than the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers have done it since 2013, and while it hasn’t shown many on-court benefits yet that team has some of the best young talent in the NBA and could be very good in a couple of years.

The Cleveland Browns tanked last year in the NFL, and it landed them the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. Unfortunately for them, there was no true franchise quarterback prospect in the Class of 2017 so the Browns took Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett.

However, the 2018 QB draft class looks loaded, led by USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Wyoming’s Josh Allen. Many early mock drafts have those three going 1-2-3 overall. It’s now clear that the New York Jets are 100 percent tanking in 2017 in order to get a Top 3 pick and a franchise QB.

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It’s Going To Be Ugly For Gang Green

Sometimes, the worst thing an NFL team can do is overachieve because then it gets the fan base fired up and raises expectations to an unrealistic level. The 2015 New York Jets finished 10-6 in Coach Todd Bowles’ first season. That was incredibly misleading as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick played way above his head and the Jets caught nearly every break that season. They still didn’t make the playoffs, but with the expectations raised, ownership brought back all the key veterans and added some big-money pieces in free agency for 2016.

In reality, the 2015 club was probably a seven-win team and the Jets slipped to 5-11 in 2016 as guys regressed back to their mean. Bowles barely kept his job, and I’m doubting he will be the coach in 2018 because the 2017 roster looks like the worst in the NFL. 5Dimes has an NFL prop asking whether a team will go 0-16 this year, with yes at +1500 and no at -4500. The Jets just might.

At least the Jets are truly starting over. They previously released expensive veterans such as receiver Brandon Marshall, offensive linemen Nick Mangold and Ryan Clady, and cornerback Darrelle Revis, among a few others. All those guys used to be excellent players but are well past their prime.

This week, the team officially threw in the towel for 2017 in also saying goodbye to receiver Eric Decker and linebacker David Harris, both starters and respected veterans. That saves the Jets $13.75 million in cash payroll, but why wait until June 6 to do it? Dumping those two now completely undercuts Bowles’ chances of succeeding. All to save a few bucks?  With the departure of Harris, long-snapper Tanner Purdum is now the longest-tenured Jet. He is the only holdover from the Jets’ last playoff team (2010).

Harris had been one of the Jets’ best players – he has the second-most tackles in franchise history -- and leaders for a decade, and he only would have cost $6.5 million this year. On the bright side, the Jets will carry that extra cap space into 2018, along with nearly $9 million they currently have in 2017.

At receiver, instead of having Marshall and Decker as the starters -- and they combined for 189 catches, 2,547 yards and 26 TDs as recently 2015 – the Jets have Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson. Those two have 122 combined catches. The Jets are counting heavily on third-round pick ArDarius Stewart and fourth-rounder Chad Hansen to play key roles. Not that it matters much as no team has worse QB situation with presumed starter Josh McCown and draft busts Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty. McCown is 18-42 in 15 seasons as a starter is going to be 38 on July 4.

I give the Jets only two realistic chances to win this season: Oct. 8 at Cleveland and Dec. 24 vs. the Chargers. Both those games are currently listed at pick’em on early NFL odds.

Frankly, Gang Green backers should be rooting for their team to join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only 0-16 team in league history to then get their pick of QBs at the top of next year’s draft. Take some solace in this, Jets fans: The last two teams McCown started for (Browns and Bucs) both came away with the No. 1 pick in the following spring’s draft.

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