A pair of rookies will take the spotlight on the first game of Monday Night Football’s doubleheader when the New York Jets visit the Detroit Lions in Week 1. The Jets’ quarterback of the future is now the quarterback of the present when it was announced No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold would start the opener. Darnold did enough during the preseason to unseat incumbent Josh McCown and get Teddy Bridgewater traded. The other rookie is Detroit coach Matt Patricia, who will attempt to put a game plan together for other coaches to use on how to defend Darnold.
This NFL regular season matchup in Week 1 will take place on Monday, September 10, 2018, at 7:10 p.m. ET at Ford Field.
NFL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu
New York Jets +6.5
Detroit Lions -6.5
There’s been no movement on the line since it opened at Detroit -6.5. Not even the announcement of Darnold starting for the Jets moved the needle. The money has been evenly dispersed on the spread and on the total, which opened at 44 and jumped a half-point to 44.5.
Jermaine Kearse – There is no true No. 1 receiver among the group, but Kearse is probably the closest to it. Unfortunately for Darnold and the Jets, Kearse is expected to miss the opener after undergoing an abdominal procedure. He had a career-high and team-leading 65 receptions last season for 810 yards and five touchdowns.
Player to Watch
All eyes will be on Darnold as he opens the season as the starter. The Jets are hoping for a Carson Wentz outcome with their prized pick rather than a Ryan Leaf scenario. Many of the so-called experts said Darnold was the most NFL-ready of the quarterback-rich draft class and he’ll be the first of the six first-rounders to start a regular season game.
There is so much more pressure playing in New York and Darnold showed class and style during the preseason. His numbers were good, not spectacular, but there was nothing worth waiting for. Either Darnold is the franchise QB the team has been lacking since Joe Willie Namath donned the green and white, or he isn’t. The Jets aren’t going to win the Super Bowl and they probably won’t contend for a playoff spot, but showing improvement in his game as the season progresses is a must and seven wins would be a bonus.
Matchup to Watch
The Lions haven’t had a 1,000-yard season or a 100-yard game from a running back since 2013 and it’s an issue they’ve worked on for several years. They just haven’t been able to figure it out. The Lions have finished last in rushing in two of the last three seasons and haven’t averaged more than 89 yards per game in the last four years. The situation hit an all-time low last year when the Lions managed just 76.3 yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry.
Steps were taken again to address the situation. LeGarrette Blount was brought in and Kerryon Johnson was drafted in the second round. They showed some promise with Blount amassing 98 yards in three preseason games and Johnson totaling 68 on 15 carries. New York’s defensive line should be strong against the run, meaning more pass attempts for Matthew Stafford and fewer chances for the running backs, extending their streak of futility on the ground.
Free ATS Pick
I have to give props to Todd Bowles for going with his top draft pick as the starter. Darnold is a gifted player and he will learn on the job. There will be mistakes and hardships, but as long as the kid develops, the Jets are set for the future. They aren’t expected to compete for playoff spot this year and the offense still needs some work up front and at the skill positions. But give Darnold the keys to the kingdom and see what he can do.
There’s a lot more pressure on Patricia heading into the season after the Lions won nine games in each of the past two seasons and reached the playoffs in 2016. They had problems during the preseason, but that’s what the exhibition games are for, to work out the kinks. Stafford is one of the best and it doesn’t matter if the Lions can’t run the ball. Detroit will put up enough points to come away with a home cover.
NFL Betting Odds: Lions 30, Jets 17
BookMaker offers play-by-play betting odds for live sporting events every day! The user-friendly wagering interface on your smartphone provides an easy way to place bets on the go. Mobile betting lines are updated by the minute, so click here to start gambling on thrilling live action at BookMaker Sportsbook!