NFL Betting: When Will the Jets Win Their First Game of 2020?
Over at FanDuel Sportsbook, there are seven "local favorites" for which you can bet on a team's first win of the season.
One of those teams happens to be the New York Jets, who are looking to rebound after finishing last campaign with a losing record for the fifth time in six years. There is plenty of hope in the Meadowlands after the Jets reeled of six wins in their last eight games and no longer have to face Tom Brady twice each year in the AFC East. A more open AFC East is likely why the over is -115 -- compared to an under of -105 -- at FanDuel Sportsbook on the Jets' listed win total of 6.5.
The bet we're looking at today is when the Jets will earn that first win of the season, and it's a tricky one to project. New York is roughly a touchdown underdog in all of its first three games -- at the Buffalo Bills, home versus the San Francisco 49ers and at the Indianapolis Colts. But the Weeks 4 and 5 present equally winnable home games against the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals, and the Jets are early one-point favorites in both contests.
Those willing to take the Jets in the opener against the Bills can do so at +220 for the first-win wager, with the odds only slightly worse at +290 for the 49ers' cross-country trip. The bold might take New York to win in Indianapolis at a cool +550, but if the Jets somehow find themselves at 0-5, all the odds from Week 6 on are above +2200 heading into Gang Green's Week 6 game in Los Angeles against the Chargers.
So with all that laid out, here's a look at the three best bets for the Jets' first victory of the season.
Week 1 at Buffalo (+220)
Those with good memories will remember that the Jets led the Bills 16-0 midway through the third quarter of last year's season opener before falling apart and losing 17-16 at home. But what many forget about that day is New York put up only 223 yards of offense that day. Darnold threw for just 175 yards and was sacked four times. To make matters worse, the Jets ended the season with a mediocre 13-6 win over the Bills' backups -- a game in which Darnold threw for fewer than 200 yards again, was picked once and was sacked twice.
Darnold is 2-1 against the Bills in his career, but he's been average at best in all three of those games. He's a combined 47 of 101 for 544 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions against the Buffalo defense while the Jets have averaged just 18.7 points per game in those matchups. The Bills' defense has ranked in the top three of fewest yards allowed each of the past two seasons while ranking in the top 10 in first downs allowed and takeaways.
The reason for optimism here is the Jets' defense -- led by Jamal Adams -- could cause problems for Josh Allen and the Bills' offense. In fact, the Jets' D scored nine of the 16 points New York put up against Buffalo in last season's opener. But the Jets also squandered Allen's four first-half turnovers, with just the pick-six from C.J. Mosley turning into points.
Week 4 vs. Denver (+390)
The Jets are served a very winnable game for their first of two guaranteed primetime games this season, with this one coming on a Thursday. The strength of the Jets is clearly their defense, and it has a chance to go against an offense that ranked 28th last season in points and total yards.
Drew Lock undoubtedly gave a jolt of energy to the Broncos last season when he went 4-1 as a starter down the stretch, but there are a lot of unproven weapons around him in the passing game. The splashy move for the Broncos' offense in free agency was signing Melvin Gordon, but the Jets had the second-best rushing defense last season and allowed just one team to eclipse 130 yards on the ground.
The bigger question is how will New York's offense deal with a Von Miller-led defense that still finished 10th in points allowed and 12th in yards allowed. Derek Wolfe is a big loss for Denver's front seven, and there are openings to attack Denver's secondary with the departure of Chris Harris in free agency.
Week 5 vs. Arizona (+700)
A long week to prepare for an offense that features Kyler Murray, Larry Fitzgerald and DeAndre Hopkins is a blessing for the Jets. As is Arizona's travel schedule, which finds the Cardinals in Carolina the week before. So either Arizona is traveling to North Carolina and back to Arizona to fly to New York the next week, or the Cardinals are going to stay out east away from the comforts of home for an entire week.
It's weird to look at the names on the Arizona defense -- mainly Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson -- and then look at the team stats the Cardinals put up last year. They ranked 28th in scoring defense and last in yards allowed in 2019, mainly due to a passing defense that ranked 31st in the league. Arizona focused much of its attention this offseason on improving the pass rush, but if the Jets can protect Darnold, the quarterback can have a big day.
The downside is that the strength of the Jets' defense -- stopping the run -- is the opposite of what Arizona is likely going to want to do this year. The Cardinals put some stock in beefing up the receiving options for Murray by trading for Hopkins this offseason, and the Jets were a middle-of-the-road passing D last year. And Gang Green's best defensive back (Adams) is in a contract dispute with the team.
Sleeper: Week 12 vs Miami (+9500)
What happens if the Jets just simply don't have enough weapons for Darnold and the offense craters like it did last December? We could get a situation where the Jets get ripped apart by the Broncos' defense and an improved Cardinals offense in back-to-back weeks.
Lacking confidence, New York flies across the country and gets whipped by the Chargers in Week 6 before a rematch with the Bills, a trip to Kansas City and the first meeting of the season with the Patriots. It's not impossible that we'd get an 0-9 Jets squad limping into Miami to face a resurgent Dolphins team likely led by Tua Tagovailoa. After losing in the Sunshine State, the Jets rebound after a Week 11 bye to split the season series with the Dolphins.
The Week 12 prop is +9500 for obvious reasons, though you could still take New York winning in Miami in Week 10 for +5500 if you'd like.
It's a true toss-up in my mind between the Denver game in Week 4 and the contest against Arizona in Week 5. Both are certainly winnable games, which is why the Jets are the tentative favorites in each of them, but both teams also present enough of a challenge that they could easily beat the Jets, as well.
I'm leaning toward taking the Jets to defeat the Broncos in Week 4 for their first win (at +390 odds), because it seems like the easier game for the Jets. New York is going to rely on its defense a lot to win games this season, and I feel more comfortable picking New York to slow down Lock and the Broncos than Murray and the Cardinals.
Denver has the better team defense, but it's not enough to scare me off the Jets at home on a short week in primetime.