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Lions To Stifle Darnold And Jets In Opener

September 9, 2018

The Detroit Lions and the New York Jets embark on new eras in the history of their respective franchises at the start of the 2018 campaign.

The Jets moved up in the 2018 Draft to select USC quarterback Sam Darnold in the hope of ending their endless search for a quality signal-caller.

New York have been starved of talent at the quarterback position since the days of Joe Namath. Namath was the quarterback that guided the Jets to their only Super Bowl triumph in 1969. Darnold has the potential to become a star in the league, but will have his rookie struggles.

The Jets have struggled over the past two seasons since almost reaching the post-season in 2015. Securing a victory in their opener would be a welcome start to the campaign.

Matt Patricia will be doing his utmost to stop the rookie as he takes the reins for the first time. Patricia replaced Jim Caldwell as head coach of the Lions following a successful run as defensive coordinator at the New England Patriots.

He will have a point to prove as not all assistant coaches under Bill Belichick have thrived after leaving New England. Patricia will be determined to buck the trend and he does have quality on his roster to make a strong start, although his team will have to be wary of a rookie surprise in the opener.

Will Patricia get off to a winning start?

Detroit Lions

The Lions missed the playoffs last season, failing to capitalise on Aaron Rodgers’ injury in the NFC North. Caldwell paid the price and general manager Bob Quinn moved for a familiar face, signing up his former Patriots colleague Patricia to take the reins. Patricia’s last game was probably the worst of his NFL career as his defense allowed 41 points to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. He arrives with a solid reputation as his defenses in New England have finished in the top five in fewest points allowed during his six-year stint as their defensive coordinator. The Patriots did give up a lot of yards and it will be interesting to see whether that trend continues. It is easy to give up yards when Tom Brady is putting up points, whether the same system works with Matt Stafford remains to be seen.

Stafford will continue to work with offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, although the latter was overlooked for the head coaching position. The quarterback has been in and around the elite mark in the NFL, although he has not managed to turn that into a deep surge in the playoffs. Patricia’s first job will be to get the running game going, with the Lions entering the new term without a 100-yard rusher in a single contest since Thanksgiving 2013. There’s talent in the running back corps with Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount, who has won the last two Super Bowls. The wide receivers remain potent. Golden Tate leads the group along with Marvin Jones, while second-year wideout Kenny Golladay could be poised for a breakout year after impressing in his rookie season.

Defensively the front seven could be a cause for concern. Ezekiel Ansah has a great deal of pedigree to generate a pass-rush, although there’s not a great deal of support around him. Jarrad Davis will be an important player in Patricia’s defense, remaining on the field for every down. He was solid as a rookie last term, but the Lions will be hopeful that he can take a step forward. Darius Slay is the one elite player on the defense. He’s a lockdown cornerback that will allow Patricia to manoeuvre the rest of the unit around the All-Pro.

New York Jets

The Jets were bold to move up in the draft to select Darnold. The franchise have been waiting a long time to find a quality quarterback and may have found their man. Darnold was outstanding in his three years at USC and was touted to be the first-overall selection. The Cleveland Browns passed up the opportunity, while the New York Giants went for running back Saquon Barkley. New York traded with the Indianapolis Colts to acquire the third spot and went for Darnold.

The 21-year-old displayed a fine all-round ability in his range of throwing for the Trojans during his college days. During pre-season he offered a sample of what he could offer in the NFL. His performances gave the Jets so much confidence that they traded veteran Teddy Bridgewater to the New Orleans Saints. Todd Bowles named Darnold his starter for the campaign. It will be up for the rookie to deliver, although he is not blessed with a great deal of talent around him.

Robby Anderson will be his best receiver, although the wideout hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in the off-season. Anderson has displayed quality on the perimeter and could be Darnold’s best option for moving the ball downfield. Quincy Enunwa is making his way back from injury, while Jermaine Kearse has been unspectacular during his NFL career. Isaiah Crowell has had his moments in the NFL, but is not the consistent player that could ease the pressure on Darnold. The 21-year-old will have to make precise throws to get the ball moving.

The Jets’ defense has elements of talent. Leonard Williams has been a force on the defensive line at times during his career, although last term his statistics were affected due to increased attention he received from opposing offensive lineman. Williams has to be outstanding this season as there’s not a lot of support around him. Jamal Adams was impressive in his rookie term, and eyes will be on him to take the next step forward in his development. Trumaine Johnson was the big free agent signing and there will be pressure on him to live up to his contract.

Betting Options

Darnold has the potential to be a fine starting quarterback in the NFL. However, he will not be able to outduel Stafford on his first start as the Lions have a quality offense, and their defense has enough to limit New York’s ability to put points on the board.

Back Detroit to get off the mark with a victory on home soil at odds of -270  with TopBet, while take Patricia’s men to win by a touchdown on the -7 spread at Bovada at +105 . There will not be more than 45 points scored in the contest due to the presence of the rookie and the Jets’ underwhelming offense, back the under at -110  with BetOnline.

Golladay is the receiver to watch for the Lions, back him to notch a score on the opening day anytime at odds of 7/4 , while back Tate to start on a strong note with over 61 receiving yards at 17/20  with 888Sport.

Tips Summary

Detroit Lions To Beat New York Jets
Monday 10th September 2018 19:10 ET (Tuesday 11th September 00:10 BST)
Odds: -270

Take -7 Spread Detroit Lions
Monday 10th September 2018 19:10 ET (Tuesday 11th September 00:10 BST)
Odds: +105

Take Under On 45 Total Points To Be Scored
Monday 10th September 2018 19:10 ET (Tuesday 11th September 00:10 BST)
Odds: -110

Kenny Golladay To Score Touchdown Anytime
Monday 10th September 2018 19:10 ET (Tuesday 11th September 00:10 BST)
Odds: 7/4

Golden Tate To Record Over 61 Receiving Yards
Monday 10th September 2018 19:10 ET (Tuesday 11th September 00:10 BST)
Odds: 17/20

  • Detroit Lions
  • Matt Stafford
  • New York Jets
  • NFL
  • Sam Darnold

    About the author

    Simon Sinclair
    Simon Sinclair

    Sports Writer

    Simon is a freelance sports writer from the UK. He passionately writes about all kinds of sports, sharing his predictions on everything from the latest cricket matches and golf tournaments to major horse racing events and popular American sports.