Jets-Lions Betting Preview & Pick: Can Darnold Pull off Upset?

Sep 10, 2018
Jets-Lions Betting Preview & Pick: Can Darnold Pull off Upset?

Sunday was a prime example of why getting a line at the number you want is vital.

On Friday, I released my selection for the Steelers-Browns game and my pick was the under 43. Between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning, the total dropped a full two points. If you bet the under before kickoff, you got the number at 41, which looked profitable when the division rivals combined for just 7 points in the first half. When the game went off the rails in the second half, however, you became victim to a bad beat as the teams combined for 35 points in the final two quarters.

Fortunately, if you got the number at 43, the two missed field goals in overtime led to money in your pocket. Granted, lines won’t always move that significantly from day-to-day but when the weather is a concern (like it was in Cleveland on Sunday), it’s best to lock in your pick when you see the number you want.

As for my other Sunday plays, the Ravens routed the Bills as a 7.5-point favorite, cashing easily, and the Chargers-Chiefs over 48 was never in doubt as the two teams poured it on from the outset. The three wins, combined with my Falcons-Eagles under winner from Thursday night, leaves me with a 4-0 ATS record heading into Monday night.

Looking ahead to tonight, I’m staying away from the second game of the MNF doubleheader. Laying 4.5 points with the Rams against a dysfunctional Raiders team in Jon Gruden’s debut looks too good to be true (as did the Saints on Sunday when they hosted a Jameis Winston-less Bucs team at home as a large favorite). With over 75% of the betting tickets on the Rams, public bettors love L.A. and following the public is often a recipe for disaster. Still, I also don’t want to back a Raiders squad with a potentially horrible defense, so I’m avoiding that game altogether.

That said, I do see value in the first Monday night clash between the Jets and Lions so let’s break that one down.

New York Jets at Detroit Lions

  • Point Spread: Lions -7
  • O/U: 44.5
  • Time: Monday, 7:10 p.m. ET

Line Movement

The Lions opened as a 6.5-point favorite, but the spread has been bet up to the key number of 7 at most sportsbooks. As for the total, the over/under opened at 44 but was bet up to 44.5.

Public Betting

As of Monday morning, 56% of the betting tickets are on the Lions to cover the 7 points. The money is also backing Detroit at a 63% clip.

Key Injuries

While the Lions don’t have a single player listed on their injury report, the Jets will likely be without receiver Jermaine Kearse, who is doubtful to play with an abdominal injury.

Defensively for New York, linebacker Avery Williams (hamstring) is questionable, while fellow ‘backer Kevin Pierre-Louis (one game) and cornerback Rashard Robinson (four games) are out due to suspension.


The Jets are 9-4-1 against the spread in their last 14 games overall but are just 2-6-1 against the number in their last nine road games.

As for the Lions, they are 5-1 against the spread in their last six Monday night games and are 4-1 ATS in their last five season openers.


Welcome to the NFL, Sam Darnold. Your first regular-season professional game comes on the road and in front of a national TV audience. Oh, and you’ll become the youngest Week 1 starting quarterback at 21 years, 97 days.

No pressure, kid.

Despite the inexperience that comes with their starting quarterback, I like the Jets and the points tonight. They were better than everyone thought a year ago when they finished with a winning ATS record, plus, Darnold’s intangibles are off the charts. He’s poised and mature for his age and while preseason should be taken with a grain of salt, it was hard not to be impressed with Darnold’s performance during exhibition play (29-of-45 for 244 yards with two touchdowns and one interception).

The Jets are not without talent. Robby Anderson came into his own last year and keeps improving after playing just two seasons (24 games) at Temple before joining New York. Quincy Enunwa also returns after missing all of 2017 due to injury and the Jets have capable backs in Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell. Defensively, Leonard Williams is the focal point of the defensive line and the secondary is solid. The two weaknesses are pass rush and offensive line, which will be an issue throughout the season, but not enough to sway me towards laying the points with Detroit.

Speaking of the Lions, while the Jets are young and experienced, Detroit is unveiling a new head coach, a new defensive coordinator and a new defensive scheme, not to mention plenty of new faces on that side of the ball. It will take some time before Detroit’s defensive players grasp what head coach Matt Patricia and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni are asking them to do within their scheme.

Matthew Stafford will have his moments tonight because the Lions’ offense will be the best unit on the field. Still, the spread feels inflated, likely because Darnold will be making his debut and the perception is the Jets are one of the worst teams in football. But the gap between the bottom 15 teams in the NFL isn’t as wide as people think and given how new everything is for the Lions defensively, I’ll gladly take the points with an undervalued Jets team.

If you like the Jets too, remember the intro to this piece: Don't wait and expose yourself to a bad number right before kickoff. The line could always jump up to 7.5 but why take the risk?

Pick: New York Jets +7

2018 Season Record

  • Week 1: 4-0
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