In reality, Jets a solid play


No team in the NFL has created more of a buzz by doing less than the New York Jets, who go into the season with a coach, Rex Ryan, and quarterback, Mark Sanchez, already under intense pressure.

The Jets lost their final three games to miss the playoffs last season, then followed that flop by scoring only one touchdown while going 0-4 in the preseason. Almost every report about the Jets has been bad news, and bettors are buying into the story.

When lines for Week 1 opened, the Jets were 6-point favorites over the Buffalo Bills. The number dipped to 2½ and has settled at 3 for today's game in New York.

The Jets have the league's most intriguing backup quarterback, but will the hyped addition Tim Tebow be a positive?

"The perception is the Jets can't move the ball because that's what we saw in the preseason, but the reality is they never really tried," said Micah Roberts, a handicapper for VegasInsider.com "They never implemented their secret spread-option attack with Tebow into the game plan and never showed an urgency to do anything but go through the motions.

"Between the media and fans, we all have been taken for a ride, one likely orchestrated by Ryan, and are led to believe the Jets are much worse because of what we saw in preseason. I'm not buying it. I still think the Jets will compete for a playoff spot. And how is it that the public can be so down on the Jets for their preseason showing, yet still love the Bills when they also went 0-4?"

Buffalo lost eight of its final nine games last season as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick fizzled, but it boasts one the league's best defensive fronts.

Roberts, a former sports book director, is part of "The Linemakers" on SportingNews.com, a website offering betting information and videos featuring Las Vegas oddsmakers and handicappers. His take is the line value in this game makes the Jets a best bet.

"The Jets have defeated the Bills five straight times, and did so with relatively the same defense they will put on the field today, and that's what no one is talking about. The Jets still have one of the best defenses in football, and Fitzpatrick is a bad NFL quarterback.

"So as I get the gift of laying a short number, I say thank you to everyone in the media for helping reshape the perception of the Jets, including the bettors and oddsmakers that forced the line move."

Roberts, who is calling for the Jets to win 20-10, scouts the rest of today's Week 1 schedule:

■ Indianapolis at Chicago (-10): There's a definite culture change in the Colts' locker room, and everyone is buying into rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and a new system. But I have a feeling the Bears are going to be one of those teams that wipes out opponents by large margins, especially inferior teams. The former Denver connection of Jay Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall is going to be fun to watch. Bears, 38-16.

■ Philadelphia (-9) at Cleveland: Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden is in for a long day, but look for the Cleveland defense to play well and maybe get some special-teams help to keep the game close early. This is a big number to lay on the road, but I can't say I want to take the Browns. Eagles, 23-10.

■ Washington at New Orleans (-7½): Sharp money likes the Redskins and that now gives line value to a team like the Saints, who went 9-0 against the spread at home last season. As good as Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III could become, he's still starting his first game on the road against a New Orleans team with the highest-rated home-field advantage. Saints, 34-13.

■ New England (-5) at Tennessee: The past 12 Super Bowl losers dropped their opener the following season. Sharp money is on the Titans, driving this to where you start questioning a Patriots pick. But I don't believe in Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker yet. I like his talent, but he makes too many mistakes, and this is one team you almost need to be flawless against to beat. Patriots, 27-17.

■ Jacksonville at Minnesota (-3½): The Jaguars are the lowest-rated team in the league, but I can see them sneaking in a win here against a weak Vikings team that will miss running back Adrian Peterson. The Jaguars' Rashad Jennings will move the chains with a good effort on the ground, and this will be an ugly low-scoring game. Jaguars, 20-17.

■ Miami at Houston (-13): If Matt Moore had been named the Dolphins' starting quarterback, this could have been a good look at the Dolphins to possibly pull the upset, based on how well they put things together in the second half of last season. Instead, Miami is going with Ryan Tannehill, another rookie making his debut on the road. Texans, 27-10.

■ St. Louis at Detroit (-8): New coach Jeff Fisher immediately gives the Rams some credibility, especially defensively. The Lions have an offense that will be hard to match scores with, but their defense yielded 24 points and 367 yards per game last season. St. Louis should play this one close. Lions, 27-24.

■ Atlanta (-2½) at Kansas City: The Falcons have shown they are not their usual selves on grass, and Kansas City has one of the strongest home-field advantages in the league. The Chiefs' running game should be fun to watch, keeping with their trend of chewing up clock and holding this under the total of 43½. For those who like the home 'dog, plus-3 is available. Chiefs, 17-14.

■ San Francisco at Green Bay (-4½): This is another game being driven down to the point where you're getting great line value with the Packers, who should be closer to 7-point favorites. Somehow, Green Bay's playoff loss has made people forget that Aaron Rodgers' offense destroyed everyone at Lambeau Field last season by a wide margin. The San Francisco defense is tough, but their offense won't keep up with Rodgers. Packers, 27-20.

■ Carolina (-2½) at Tampa Bay: I'll buy into quarterback Cam Newton doing more special things in his second season, but I think we've gone a little overboard with the Panthers being almost a field-goal road favorite. The total is 47 and I see a high-scoring game, similar to both meetings last season. Expect the Buccaneers to show up. Look for good things out of Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman this season. Buccaneers, 34-31.

■ Seattle (-3) at Arizona: There has been way too much of an overreaction to the quarterbacks on each team, and that has moved this spread five points. I don't think Seahawks rookie Russell Wilson will be as good as he showed in preseason, and I don't think the Cardinals' John Skelton is as bad as he looked. In going 5-2 as a starter last season, Skelton proved he can manage the game. Cardinals, 16-13.

■ Pittsburgh at Denver (-1½): The only real improvement the Broncos made from last year's squad was at quarterback. They still have a lot of unanswered questions. Still, Denver should be able to feed off the energized crowd in this one to get the win. After that, it could be a tough year. Broncos, 31-28.

COMPILED BY MATT YOUMANS/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

 

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