The New York Jets are among the biggest surprises in the first half of the 2017 NFL season. Long thought to be tanking for the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Jets got off to a 3-2 start and have hung around the AFC wild card picture with a 4-5 record.
New York is still at the bottom of the AFC East and certainly fighting an uphill battle, but for a team that some felt could vie for an 0-16 record, they’re greatly exceeding anyone’s expectations.
While it’s been nice to see the Jets work hard and compete to this point, fans and bettors alike have to wonder what the future holds. Are the Jets good enough to get back to .500 in week 10, and do they have a realistic shot at the playoffs or more?
Who Are They?
Before we even get into how we want to bet on the Jets right now, let’s consider what this team is.
It was supposed to be an utter dumpster fire, but a 38-year old journeyman quarterback in Josh McCown has actually been the glue to a surprisingly efficient offense.
New York’s offense doesn’t spring a lot of big plays, but they balance things out with short passes, run the ball when it makes sense and they play solid defense.
McCown is completing over 70% of his passes, New York’s three-headed running back dragon is churning out a ton of total yardage and the defense is simply not caving when it matters most.
New York is far from an elite team, but they have working pieces across the board. Individually, nothing stands out for the Jets this year, but as a whole, this team is doing enough to play winning football.
Of course, as is the case with any team that overachieves, it’s fair to wonder if and when the bottom will drop out.
Betting on New York in Week 10
The Jets find themselves in a decent spot in week 10. Josh McCown leads New York up against one of his former teams in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while Gang Green also gets to face off of one of its former quarterbacks in Ryan Fitzpatrick.
It’s possible Fitzmagic gets a shot at some revenge in this game and it certainly isn’t easy to trust the Jets on the road, but one has to think if the Bucs are down Jameis Winston, they’re not a lock.
NFL betting sites agree, as Bovada specifically backs the visiting Jets as the favorite at -140. The spread is about as mild as it gets (-2.5) and we should brace for a close game that could go either way, but after seeing the Jets crush the Bills last week, we have to consider the possibility this team isn’t ready to go quietly into the night.
On paper, this is a good matchup for New York’s offense. The Buccaneers have been atrocious against the pass all year (currently ranked 29th) and they struggle immensely to generate anything that resembles a pass rush.
Tampa Bay’s defense as a whole has left them wanting all year, as their run defense has been about as bad as their pass defense. That unit has given up the 12th most rushing yards per game and could be vulnerable against the duo of Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire.
The absence of Matt Forte (knee) does put a mild damper on this week’s outlook, but the Jets have utilized all of their running backs together all year. They should do the same in week 10 as they move the ball and put up points against a sluggish Buccaneers defense.
The only upside the Jets bring to the table is the fact that Tampa Bay is about ready to nail their season in at 2-6 and the turnover-prone Fitzpatrick could oblige to help make that happen.
Will the Jets Make the Playoffs?
Even if New York does win this week like Vegas expects them to, they have a long road back to relevancy.
Taking down the Bills helped that path get easier, but that season series is still split and they are also being dragged down by losses to the rival Patriots and Dolphins.
Suffice to say, going 1-3 in the division isn’t going to do you any favors. Getting to 5-5 keeps the Jets alive in every regard, but with New England once again running away with the division at 6-2, their best path to the playoffs is without a doubt nabbing a wild card spot.
That means we can probably rule out the Jets storming the AFC East castle, even though their +5000 odds to win the division are quite tempting.
Tempting or not, they don’t seem realistic. As I suggested earlier, the bottom could always drop out on this team. McCown could go down with an injury or start turning the ball over like crazy, the offense could run into matchups too difficult to overcome or the defense could show its youth.
One way or another, an overachieving team could quickly turn into the loser everyone thought it would be.
That may very well still happen, but with a win this week, the Jets would be 5-5 and would absolutely still be in play for a playoff run.
The schedule only intensifies from here, of course. Rivalry clashes with the Patriots and the Dolphins await New York, while brutal matchups with the Saints, Broncos, Chiefs and Panthers lie ahead.
With four of their final seven games coming on the road, the Jets will have no safe haven during the stretch run. In reality, as impressive as the Jets have been to this point, they may need to shock the world just to finish at .500.
Finishing at 8-8 won’t be enough, but the AFC playoff picture is less daunting than the NFC’s.
It’s easy to argue the Jets are better than division rivals like the Bills and Dolphins right now. If it can be assumed that they will finish second in the division when it’s all said and done, then they simply need to out-last the likes of the the Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, and whatever team doesn’t win the AFC South.
Oakland holds the tiebreaker over the Jets stemming from a week two win, but the Jets could get in ahead of them if they have more wins. The Ravens also are no lock to remain in the playoff picture, which could further help New York.
There is still a lot of football left to be played and if there are still “will the Jets make the playoffs” bets out there, it might make sense to bet on the “no” side. Still, this team has been a surprise through the first nine weeks and die hard Jets fans can’t help but marvel at their +25000 Super Bowl 52 odds.