New York Jets at Detroit Lions (-3, 36.5 o/u)
New head coach Todd Bowles is a defensive mastermind with an unenviable decision to make on the offensive side of the ball: Bowles will have to either back QB Geno Smith as the starter for the NY Jets, or give the keys to the veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who isn’t an upgrade either. The Jets will visit the Detroit Lions on Thursday at Ford Field in their first preseason game (7:30 PM Eastern).
According to the reports coming from New York’s camp, Smith hasn’t been impressive at all, and many wonder if he’s already reached his max potential. Smith came into this year with 41 turnovers in just 30 career starts, and despite being the favorite, he won’t just be handed the job if he doesn’t earn it. Geno is not only fighting for respect, but he’s fighting for his future with the Jets organization.
“You can’t practice average if you want to be great,” Bowles said to the Associated Press after a disappointing Monday practice. “You can have very few of these days. Today was the first time. It wasn’t a big deal, but at the same time, they have to understand where they are. This wasn’t a good day.”
The Jets defense should have a resurgence this year with the arrival of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, but their issues start and end with the quarterback position.
Those issues, by the way, the Detroit Lions don’t have: QB Matthew Stafford is a reliable option under center. Stafford is coming off a year where he wasn’t at his best despite he had two wide receivers, Calvin Johnson, and Golden Tate, which had over 1,000 receiving yards. Stafford expects to add TE Eric Ebron to that list and make him one of the best in the NFL.
“Eric for sure has a bunch of talent and he and I are on the same page when we start talking,” Stafford said via the team’s website. “He understands what I’m saying now a little bit more than last year.”
The Lions went 1-3 during last preseason, and with a pretty well-established group, they won’t have much to prove in Week 1. These types of games are more important to the new head coaches, particularly as they try to install a winning mentality. Smith, Fitzpatrick and even rookie quarterback Bryce Petty all have something to prove; so look for the Jets to fight until the bitter end to get off on the right foot.
Pick: Jets (+3).
(Photo Credit: Zennie Abraham (Originally posted to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/])