If the New York Jets don’t play well this week, you can probably stick a fork in their chances to reach their “Regular Season Win” projection of six victories in 2018.
An overstatement? While it’s still early, it’s hard to imagine a friendlier schedule spot for the Jets. New York is playing at home in a clear bounce-back spot after getting humiliated in Jacksonville. Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold just wasn’t ready for a road game against an elite defense. And, New York’s defense played way below prior standards as well. You’d expect peak intensity Sunday for a host that talked big after a season opening 48-17 rout of Detroit.
Denver arrives for a “bad body clock” game (early East Coast kickoff for a team from the Mountain time zone), amidst a short preparation challenge (after a draining Monday night home divisional loss to Kansas City), on its second trip east in the last three weeks (lost at Baltimore 27-14). Brutal!
In fact, this has all the earmarks of a “tank out of gas” spot for Denver. Broncos started the season with a thriller vs. Seattle…followed that up with a nailbiter against hated Oakland…then had to travel to Baltimore to face a budding Super Bowl threat…before playing ANOTHER nail biter vs. a divisional rival this past Monday.
It tells you a lot about how much betting markets have soured on the Jets that Sunday’s game was near PICK-EM all week in that scenario! A generic host would have been favored by at least a field goal. A playoff contender by a TD or more.
Denver quarterback Case Keenum looks to be the linchpin player in determining who covers and by how much. For now, he’s the straw that hasn’t figured out how to stir the drink. The median NFL “passer rating allowed” is around 95 thus far in a high scoring season. Here are Keenum’s numbers.
Case Keenum’s Passer Ratings in 2018
84.2 vs. Seattle (hurt by 3 picks)
61.8 vs. Oakland (lucky to win)
67.3 at Baltimore
73.4 vs. Kansas City
Again, 95-ish is the current “normal.” That resume contains three home games at altitude against pass defenses that should have been sucking wind in the fourth quarter, and a failure to post big numbers against shootout prone opponents Oakland and Kansas City. (Don’t ask John Elway for fantasy football advice!)
New York can spank the market and get its second win of the season by keeping Keenum contained and grinding out points. A loss here, and reaching the summer betting target of six victories is a bigger longshot. Even with Buffalo still ahead twice, 1-4 is a tough hole to dig out of with Minnesota, Chicago, New England (twice), Tennessee, and Green Bay still ahead on the schedule. Jets backers can’t just assume home wins over Indianapolis and Houston. And if the implosion from Jacksonville continues, sweeping Buffalo isn’t certain either.