New York Jets
Jets Season Win Total: 7.5 (O -105 /U -125)
2018 Pythagorean Wins: 4.77 (-0.77)
Key additions: RB Le’Veon Bell, CB Alex Brown, RB Ty Montgomery, OT Calvin Anderson, C Ryan Kalil, LB C.J. Mosley, WR Jamison Crowder, LG Kelechi Osemele
Key losses: K Chandler Catanzaro, LB Jeff Allison, QB Josh McCown
Early Round Rookies: DT Quinnen Williams, EDGE Jachai Polite, OT Chuma Edoga
Coaching Changes: Fired General Manager Mike Maccagnan, fired head coach Todd Bowles, fired offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, fired defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers. Hired head coach Adam Gase, hired offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, hired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Early Round Rookies: DT Quinnen Williams, EDGE Jachai Polite, OT Chuma Edoga
Adam Gase head coaching record: 23–26 (.469)
After an abysmal 4-12 season, the New York Jets are an extreme long shot in the NFL odds marketplace. The Jets decided to completely clean house letting go of head coach Todd Bowles after a 24-40 overall record with the team. General Manager Mike Maccagnan brought in former Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase to revitalize the young group. In a surprising move, Maccagnan was let go shortly after the NFL draft and has recently been replaced by Joe Douglas.
Gase brought in the controversial Gregg Williams to try and help a unit that finished 24th in passing defense and 26th in rushing defense last year. He brings with him nearly 30 years of experience in the NFL and is known to be loud and confrontational. Williams took over as interim head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2018 after they finally let go of Hue Jackson. He led the Browns to a 5-3 record as their head coach.
Gase will be leading the Jets into 2019 with second-year QB Sam Darnold. The quarterback had a rocky start to his NFL career with a 57.7 completion percentage for 2865 yards, 17 TDs, and 15 interceptions. He only played thirteen games, however, battling injury near the end of the season. If the Jets hope to be successful, they are going to need to protect their QB. They finished a lowly 21st in pass protection, according to Football Outsiders.
The Jets defense was middle of the pack last year. They had some glaring issues, especially against opposing WR1s. The team ranked 24th in DVOA against opposing top WRs, allowing 6.7 passes and an average of 62.5 yards per game.
This season under Greg Williams, the team will be transitioning to a 4-3 defense. The D-line will need to step up their game if they hope to be successful in a new defensive scheme. Leonard Williams, the former first-round pick, will hopefully benefit from the move to a 4-3 defense. He will be shifting to his more natural position as a 3-technique defensive tackle.
Rookie defensive tackle and 2019 top-five draft pick, Quinnen Williams, will be looking to make an immediate impact. At Alabama, Williams had 45 solo tackles (19.5 for a loss), and eight sacks. The Jets defense had a total of only 37 sacks last season. The combination of Williams and newly acquired linebacker C.J. Mosley will change what this defensive line can do. In five seasons, Mosley has only missed the Pro Bowl one time and has racked up 579 combined tackles, 8.5 sacks, 35 passes defended and nine interceptions.
On top of a stout defensive line, the team has one of the best safeties in the league in Jamal Adams. Among the 67 safeties that played at least 500 snaps on defense, Pro Football Focus graded him as the second-best in the league. Adams racked up 115 tackles (nine for loss), eight quarterback hits, 3.5 sacks, 12 passes defended, three forced fumbles, an interception, and a fumble recovery during his sophomore campaign.
I expect this defense to be impressive in 2019. There is little to no weakness that I can find going up and down New York’s defensive roster. Greg Williams is a polarizing figure, but he knows how to motivate a defense. He will have these guys putting in maximum effort. If the transition to a 4-3 isn’t too tricky for the players, this defense will keep the Jets in most of their games.
The offense might be the most significant question mark for this team. The former USC standout, QB Sam Darnold will look to use the end of the 2018 season to springboard into a successful 2019 campaign.
After a pretty promising beginning of the season, in which the third overall pick seemed to pick up more self-assurance as the season progressed, he hit a wall in the next three games. In consecutive losses to the Vikings, Bears, and Dolphins, he completed only 47.3 percent of his passes, threw for two touchdowns, was intercepted seven times and had a miserable 43.3 passer rating.
In week nine, Darnold was sidelined with a foot injury. Upon his return three weeks later, the 21-year-old rookie lit up the stat sheets. He completed 66 percent of his passes, threw for six touchdowns, was intercepted only once and produced a 106.2 passer rating. Darnold was able to take steps forward in his progression as a quarterback.
The predominant reason that I believe the Jets are heading in the right direction is because of the pieces they have put around Darnold. The organization realized that if they wanted to be successful, they had to stop ignoring the ground game. The Jets averaged less than three yards per carry six times last season. The production that Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell, and Elijah McGuire gave Darnold last season was one of the worst in the NFL. They ranked 30th in rushing efficiency, according to Football Outsiders.
Before GM Maccagnan was let go, he made a considerable splash signing the former Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell. Bell is one of the best pass-catching backs in the NFL. He has a career catch percentage of 78.6%, the highest in the league since being drafted in 2013 among running backs with at least 250 receptions.
One key metric used by Pro Football Network’s Data Lab is the Offensive Share Metric. This statistic is used to look at one player’s football behavior in a given environment (system, supporting cast, etc.) and determine how well they performed in that situation, regardless of what the other players around him did. In 2017, Bell had a 37.31% offensive share metric. Last years rookie of the year, Saquon Barkley, only had a 33.53% score. No matter the situation around him, Bell will be a productive back.
They also added Jamison Crowder, who is one of the most productive slot receivers in the game. He’s a significant upgrade from Jermaine Kearse, whose catch rate of 48.7% ranked 49th out of 50 wide receivers with at least 75 targets. The Jets put weapons in place that will play to Darnold’s skillset, quick passes to the slot and pass-catching running backs.
Looking at the current landscape of the NFL, the Jets are trying to emulate the success of teams with strong offensive lines. Last season alone, the two teams in the Super Bowl ranked number one (Rams) and number three (Patriots) in offensive line play, according to Football Outsiders.
The Jets went out and traded for Kelechi Osemele to beef up the offensive line. Osemele is a former Pro Bowler and will be a considerable upgrade to James Carpenter. They also surprised many by convincing previously retired center Ryan Kalil to join the team. Pro Football Focus ranked Kalil as the 13th best center out of 27 qualifiers. He was with the Panthers for 12 seasons, earning five pro bowl nods and made two all-pro teams. He is a force on the offensive line. If his retirement didn’t cause him to miss a step, I expect him to make a significant impact on this teams success.
Jets Strength of Schedule
The Jets, similar to most of the AFC East, have a very manageable schedule. The Jets are tied with the Patriots, Rams, Giants, and Bengals for the second easiest schedule in the NFL. Their opponents’ combined 2018 win percentage is a measly .473, having gone 120-134-2. Their most significant tests will be against their division rival and defending Super Bowl champion Patriots.
Most public bettors are currently overlooking the New York Jets because of the division that they are competing in. The New England Patriots have won the AFC East all but one time during the Tom Brady era. It is to be expected that this has spooked most people from betting on the Jets.
I see a significant regression coming for the Patriots. I feel like I have been saying that for the past five seasons, but this time it feels like it might genuinely happen. Brady is now 42 years old, and the team didn’t make any meaningful upgrades during the offseason. The New York Jets, however, have made tremendous strides forward.
One overlooked aspect of this Jets team is their new head coach. People easily forget that Gase was the offensive coordinator for one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history, the 2013 Denver Broncos. If he can use some of that experience with Darnold, the Jets could surprise a lot of people. Now, Darnold is no Peyton Manning, but he has the offensive line and the weapons to succeed.
I have a strong play on the over 7.5 wins for the New York Jets. Bovada currently has what I consider to be the best NFL odds currently (-105). If you are hesitant, there are some books where you can find a 6.5, but you have to pay insane juice to grab it (-208). I will also be looking to put some bets on the Jets to win the division at plus money. Bovada once again has the best odds if you believe in Darnold and Gase (+600). I will also put a small amount on the Jets as insane long shots to win the Super Bowl (+8000).
Bets: Over 7.5 (-105) Bovada, To win AFC East (+600) Bovada, To win Super Bowl (+8000) 5dimes
Ryan Gosling is a writer for PFN covering NFL betting. You can follow him on Twitter @rygosling