NFL Week 1 Bets: The Opening Week Crapshoot

Chris Celletti submits his best bets for week 1 of the NFL season

Oh brother, here we go.

It’s Week 1 of the NFL season, and nobody knows what the hell will happen, which makes gambling on the league this week all sorts of frustrating and fun at the same time. You’re just as likely to hit something that seemed like a reach than you are to miss on a perceived no-brainer. Betting on NFL games is a total toss up to begin with, but it’s even crazier in the opening weeks before teams settle into their own. In that way, Week 1 is a bit like the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

Even if you’re talking about games without a point spread*, Week 1 is tough to forecast. Yeah, it might sound crazy unlikely, but would anyone be completely and utterly shocked if the Browns beat the Eagles on Sunday? I mean, sure, the Eagles are a better team and will probably win, but they’re still coached by Andy Reid…which makes any scenario possible. Every Week 1 sees one team who was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender start off with an epic crapfest, so why can’t that be the Eagles this week? Or the Patriots? Or the Saints? It will happen to someone.

*Sorry for the Grantlandish footnote-y thing here, but I have a quick aside: I hear a lot of people complain about the various NFL pregame shows picking games without the spread. And it’s not just idiot fans too, it’s radio hosts like Joe Beningo who are like “Bro, BRO… come on, how easy is it to pick games without a spread?!” when talking about the NFL Today or Fox’s pregame show or whatever. This is one of the most mindless complaints ever. You know why Bill Cowher doesn’t make his picks against the spread? Because actual, real life NFL football is NOT played with a point spread! Football analysts are there to break down actual, in between the lines football.  When the Jets take the field on Sunday against the Bills, the game will NOT kick off with the Bills already up 3-0 (and thank the lord for that). So go on Dan Marino, Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Bradshaw and make your non-spread picks. I have no problem with it. Plus, join a survivor pool and see how easy it is to pick games without a spread.

On that note, here are my three picks for the week, of course, against the spread.

Lions -8.5 vs. Rams – I’ve seen this line at -7.5 or even -7 in some other places, but either way I’ll take the Lions. Now, I don’t have a ton of confidence in the Lions overall this year, because if there’s any franchise that can screw up the momentum of last year and a good young quarterback with a can’t-miss wide receiver, its the Detroit Lions. But for this week, I like them at home against the Rams for one main reason; Brian Schottenheimer. Yes, our great old buddy from the Jets’ sidelines is running the Rams’ offense this season. And he actually has less offensive talent on this squad than he ever had with the Jets, and we saw how dynamic Gang Green’s offense was under his guidance this past half decade. Add in the fact that this offense employs the likes of Wayne Hunter and Matthew Mulligan, I mean, how in the hell are the Rams going to stay within 10 points of a team that threw for 5,000 yards last year in their building? Not happening.

Patriots -5 at Tennessee

Five points? That’s it? You’re telling me the  Patriots won’t beat the Titans by a touchdown? Believe me, just like every other writer on this site I’m rooting for Tennessee, but I’m not holding my breath. Too much Tom Brady, who will have a killer day throwing to his new toy Brandon Lloyd on the outside and to Vinny and Ronnie Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski down the seams. The Patriots D isn’t great but I think they’ll be ahead enough early to render Chris Johnson useless.

Chiefs +3 vs. Falcons

The Falcons are one of those teams I talked about above, one that has big expectations coming into the season and could fall flat on its face in Week 1. I don’t like the Falcons outdoors, on the road in a hostile situation against a solid defense. Here are Matt Ryan’s QB ratings the past four season while playing outdoors: 94.2 (the outlier), 76.2, 80.3, and 79.1. His numbers are even worse on grass. I like the Chiefs in an upset outright, so I’ll gladly take the three points.

Bonus Non-Football Bets of The Weekend: Did you know two of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the world, in their primes, are fighting each other on Saturday for free on HBO? No! No you didn’t know, because you have no idea who Andre Ward or Chad Dawson are, even though you’re clearly a sports fan if you’re on this site. That’s how horridly boring these two are outside of the ring (and sometimes inside the ring too). Ward is the world’s best Super Middleweight (168 pounds) while Dawson is the best at 175, and the fight will be for Ward’s WBC and ring belts. Dawson isn’t a huge puncher, so going down in weight shouldn’t hinder him too much. With a six and half inch reach advantage and a two inch height advantage, I like Dawson  in a pretty big upset at +265.

TOJ Roundtable: Tebow, Tebow, Tebow And The Jets

The TOJ writers discuss the pros and cons of the Tim Tebow trade

An emergency calling of the roundtable to discuss the pros and cons of the Tim Tebow trade to the New York Jets. I am going to sit this one out, as I wrote about 5,000 words on it yesterday and have plenty more on the way today.

Chris Gross: First, let’s look at why this could be viewed as an idiotic move by Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan. The Jets have been portrayed as a circus since the public meltdown after last season’s loss to Miami in week 17. There is a great scare that Tim Tebow, and the massive amount of publicity that he receives, will only add to the zoo that has become the New York Jets.

There is also the fear that Tebow’s presence will cause a split between players and fans if Mark Sanchez begins to struggle. The assumption here is based on how the fans and players of the Denver Broncos pushed for Tebow to take over for Kyle Orton after he got off to a shaky start last season. However, the fact of the matter is Kyle Orton is not Mark Sanchez. In his seven seasons in the NFL, Orton has never won a playoff game. In three seasons, Sanchez has won 4 postseason games, all on the road mind you. There is no question that Mark Sanchez, who was just given a three-year contract extension, is the starting quarterback for the New York Jets. Tebow is not being brought in here to challenge Sanchez for that title, regardless of what the so-called experts in the media say. Instead, Tebow will serve as a very useful weapon in Tony Sparano’s arsenal, regardless of what capacity that may end up being.

Sanchez will not feel threatened by Tim Tebow. Regardless of what people say, Sanchez is not fragile. He has taken more scrutiny and physical beatings on the field (Hello Wayne Hunter) in his first three seasons combined than some quarterbacks face in their entire career. Tebow was not brought to the Jets to take Sanchez’s job. He was brought to New York to help the Jets win, and that is exactly what he is going to do.

Anyone who is a fan of football has grown to know Tim Tebow as many things. He is super competitive, he is a winner, and most of all, he is a team player. It is understandable that fans view this move by the Jets as an acquisition of a glorified role player. However, if Sparano uses him correctly, Tebow will serve as much more than a Wildcat quarterback. At 6’3” 245 pounds, there is so much flexibility to how Tebow can be used.

Tebow will dedicate everything he has and fulfill that role to the best of his ability, which he has shown to be extremely high. He is certainly one of the hardest working, most determined players in the NFL, and on top of that he wants to win more than anything.

Matt Fritz: Tough for me to even try to give positives out of getting Tim Tebow from the Broncos since I have been a Tebow hater all along, but I’ll do my best. In all honesty, if the reason we got Tim Tebow is for what I truly believe it to be, then I cannot fault the Jets on this decision entirely. Just after giving Mark Sanchez an extension, do you really think the Jets are thinking of making Tebow their every down quarterback? No, the Jets reached out and got Tim Tebow because they feel as though it will make their offense that much better. Tebow will most likely get somewhere around 10-12 snaps a game, all primarily out of the wildcat, and could be a nice change of pace in the Jets offense, much like Brad Smith was two years ago.

This is ultimately how I would like the Jets to go about handling Tim Tebow in the Jets offense next season. Whether they use him like that or not we will just have to wait and find out. In the end, as much as I despise this trade, I will admit three things about Tim Tebow that there are no denying. He is a winner, he is tough, and he’s got God on his side.

We all know it’s the same song and dance. Mark comes out in the first game next year and throws two picks, and the whole New York Media and Jet fan base are calling for Tim Tebow to take over . This is ultimately my biggest fear out of all of this mess. Obviously the talk has been that Mark needs to feel some pressure behind him at the QB position, but he doesn’t need to feel like he has to be perfect. On top of that, I just don’t think that Tim Tebow is a very good quarterback. Do I think he is a tremendous athlete? Yes. Do I think he is extraordinarily tough? Absolutely. Do I think he is a winner? He’s proven that.  It’s just that if Jet fans are calling for a switch from Sanchez to Tebow next year, there just simply won’t be an upgrade.

Rob Celletti: I have a lot swirling in my mind right now, so I’m unable to really lay things out in a pro/con fashion.  I will just say that I think this is one of the worst personnel decisions that the Jets have made in the history of their franchise, for two reasons:

1) The Jets have proven that selling Tebow jerseys and PSLs are ahead of winning football games on their list of priorities.  And to send Mike Tannenbaum out there to basically lie about the main motivation for this move to the media is tantamount to spitting in the faces of the intelligent members of the Jets fanbase.  This move insults me, which brings me to…

2) If it insults me, how do you think Mark Sanchez feels right now?  What’s worse, what happens when Sanchez plays merely a mediocre half at MetLife Stadium and the Jets find themselves trailing by 7 or 10 points?  I was in the old building when people literally cheered when Chad Pennington was injured.  This is one of the most brutal fanbases in sports.  The “We Want Tebow!” chant will be deafening.  And it will be the death knell to Mark Sanchez’s career as a Jet.

Some people claim that this won’t/shouldn’t affect Sanchez.  They have to be kidding.  Did they witness what occurred last year?  Throw in Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes and however many “unnamed players”, and the 2012 circus could make 2011 look like the Monmouth County fair.

I won’t even touch upon the 8 other positions the Jets should have prioritized over gimmick/backup/wildcat quarterback.  I’m just too upset.  All I know is that being born into Jets fandom is something that will test my love of sports for as long as I walk this earth. I’m sure I’ll eventually come around to Tebow, and learn to grin and bear it, but all I can say is that being a Jets fan is extremely difficult for me right now.

Don’t Panic Jets Fans, NFL Draft Is Deep At Safety

After losing out on Reggie Nelson, Chris breaks down the safeties the New York Jets could pursue in the NFL Draft

With the Jets getting spurned by Reggie Nelson after hosting the free agent safety for a weekend long visit, it seems as though LaRon Landry is the only viable option left. But if Landry happens to politely decline an offer from the Jets as well, Mike Tannenbaum and Co. will most likely need to address this need via the draft. Many “experts” view this year’s crop of safeties to be shallow in comparison to other positions. However, when taking a closer look, this may not be the case at all. There are three safe picks that the Jets could make in one of the early rounds this year that may save their safety situation for the upcoming season.

The first, and probably most popular, of the bunch is Alabama’s Mark Barron. By now, Jets fans know who Barron is simply because his name has been linked to the team in countless mock drafts. Having played his entire career under the tutelage of defensive backs guru Nick Saban, Barron was a cornerstone to the nation’s top defense this past season, making him the safest pick at his position this year. Barron certainly has the skills and big game experience that will make him an immediate impact player on whatever team selects him.

However, the Jets are starving for a dominant pass rusher, something Rex Ryan has never had since coming to New York. The first round is poised to be filled with game changers at outside linebacker, so Tannenbaum and Ryan may opt to pass on Barron for the likes of Courtney Upshaw, Melvin Ingram, or Nick Perry.

So if not Barron, then who else? The two most quality under the radar safeties this year are Antonio Allen of South Carolina and Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith. Allen is more of an in the box type strong safety, having played the Rover position for the Gamecocks last year, but his ability to make big plays in big games should be noted. Last season, Allen’s two best games came at Georgia, where he had six tackles and a 25-yard interception returned for a touchdown, and home against Auburn in which he totaled 13 tackles, including 9 solos, and an interception. His combine numbers aren’t flashy, having run only a 4.67 40-yard dash, so Allen may be a day two option for the Jets.

Smith, on the other hand, has blown away scouts with his athletic ability. At 6’2” 213 pounds, combined with a 4.57 40 yard dash, 19 reps on the bench, and a 34 inch vertical leap, he has all the tools to be a force in both the pass and run games. A 4-year starter and Captain last season at Notre Dame, Smith has also proven to have the durability, experience, and leadership skills that should make him an asset if drafted into the right system. There is a good chance the Jets will give him a look if they choose to pass on Barron. However, at the rate his stock is expected to rise closer to draft day, Tannenbaum may have to resort back to his “Trader Mike” days and work a deal to get into the back end of the first round to grab him.

With Nelson seemingly using the Jets as leverage to obtain more money from Cincinnati, there is certainly cause for concern among Jets Nation. However, there is no reason to panic. As TOJ noted, Nelson is a good, not great, safety. Although he surely would have been an upgrade to New York’s current safety situation, he does not possess the upside of any of these three young players. Rest assured all is not yet lost for Gang Green.

New York Jets: Tannenbaum Might Still Have Faith In Ducasse

New TOJ writer Chris Gross explores if Mike Tannenabum is being stubborn at right tackle because of faith in Vladimir Ducasse

EDITOR’s NOTE: TOJ would like to welcome aboard our newest writer, Chris Gross. You can follow Chris on Twitter (@CGross97). He is a recent graduate of Union College and continues our trend of hiring former D-3 athletes who attended schools that lost to my alma mater Muhlenberg in football, when I attended there. Happy to have you on board Chris! – JC

Throughout his run as the New York Jets’ General Manager, Mike Tannenbaum has become widely known as one of the most active GMs in the NFL. So with a glaring need at right tackle, Jet fans everywhere are wondering one thing: What is taking him so long to fill the huge hole occupied by Wayne Hunter last season? Not only have the Jets not signed someone to fill this void, they seemingly haven’t even reached out to any of the big name free agent tackles on the market. It is easy to assume the Jets will be going budget on the offensive side of the ball to spend big on one of the remaining safeties left on the market, presumably Reggie Nelson or LaRon Landry. While that may be the case, there may be another reason for Mike T’s madness (or lack thereof).

With a new offensive line coach and offensive coordinator in place, Tannenbaum and the Jets coaching staff may have more confidence in the tackles currently on their roster then some believe, namely Vladimir Ducasse. While Mike T has previously stated that he fully expects Wayne Hunter to be the starter at RT next year, there are questions regarding the sincerity of that comment with reports that Hunter was shopped before the start of free agency. Remember, this is the same man who publicly stated that he expected Brian Schottenheimer to be the Jets’ offensive coordinator next season.

So, enter Ducasse, the Jets 2010 2nd Round Draft Pick. While Ducasse has done little during his short tenure as a New York Jet to illustrate to the fan base that he is worthy of ever setting foot on the field, much less be a starter, all hope may not be lost for him in the eyes of the Jets front office. Based on the remainder of the Jets starting offensive line, it is safe to say that the Jets feel confident in their ability to develop players up front. Ferguson, Mangold, and Slauson were all drafted by the organization, while Brandon Moore signed as an undrafted free agent in 2002. Although Ducasse has seen very limited game time in his two years with the Jets, it is possible that the organization still believes he can be a significant piece in rebuilding the right side of the offensive line.

Although this theory may seem crazy to some, there are certain things to remember about the Jets and Big Vlad. First, he came from Division 1 FCS University of Massachusetts. Although the NFL has seen countless players succeed from lower level schools, there are very few who had an impact with their respective teams early in their careers. The perfect example of this is Victor Cruz. Unless you are a Giants or Jets fan, odds are you had no idea who Victor Cruz was up until week 3 of this past season. Until his breakout game against the Eagles, even fans of both New York teams only remembered Cruz for his 2010 preseason performance in which he torched the Jets for three touchdowns. Cruz had the early hardships that most young players coming out of small schools face. In 2010, he appeared in only three games, and was virtually irrelevant to the NFL before his breakout 2011 campaign. There is no question that players drafted from smaller schools have a more difficult time transitioning to the NFL than those who come out of larger schools.

Second, the Jets may feel that Ducasse could benefit greatly with new voices in his ear. Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano made his mark in the NFL as an offensive line guru, and along with newly hired offensive line coach Dave Deguglielmo, the organization could be developing the idea that these men can mold Ducasse into the player they envisioned when they took him with the 61st overall pick in 2010. After all, Vlad fits the psychical mold of an NFL tackle at 6’5” 325 pounds. The Jets may feel that Sparano and co. will now be able to help him fit the mental mold as well.

Finally, Tannenbaum and the Jets do not like to give up on players that were selected with early round draft picks. In 2008, the Jets selected Vernon Gholston with the 6th overall pick in the NFL draft. Although he did not record a sack during his entire NFL career, the Jets held onto Gholston for three years hoping he would eventually develop into the pass rusher they thought they were getting. Certainly there was much more of a financial commitment to Gholston then there is with Ducasse, but the point is that Mike T likes to give his guys time to develop.

Although the Jets lack of activity along the offensive front is frustrating, they could simply be putting a lot of faith in Ducasse. And while it does not seem smart for the organization to put confidence in such an unproven player, especially considering they just gave their franchise quarterback a multi-year extension, it might just be their train of thought. If they do in fact feel this way, expect a continued lack of interest toward free agent offensive lineman by the Jets in the coming weeks.

Rex Ryan Deserves Some Blame For Jets Struggles On Offense

Chris Celletti on why the Jets offensive struggles fall both on Brian Schottenheimer AND Rex Ryan

I’m as guilty of it as the next disgruntled Jets fan. On December 4, 2011 at 1:47 PM, sometime during the first or second quarter of the Jets-Redskins game, I tweeted the following:

“I hate Brian Schottenheimer. That’s all.”

Hate is a bit of a strong word. I don’t hate the man. He seems like a hard-working guy who takes his job seriously. Other than make me grow some gray hairs because I care about the Jets way too much, he really hasn’t done anything to m e.

But I probably tweeted that after a failed tight end screen, a wildcat call on 3rd and 4 (even if it was successful) or a draw on 2nd and long. There are countless times during a Jet game when they are on offense when you could tweet something like “I hate Brian Schottenheimer”. That’s because, despite probably being a really nice guy who you’d like to play golf with, Brian Schottenheimer is a bad offensive coordinator.

But blaming a coordinator is the thing football fans do the best. The Eagles are 4-8, why? Juan Castillo, thats’ why! The Giants have lost four in a row? Perry Fewell has lost his way! Us Jets fans are especially great at it, whether it be Schottenheimer, Mike Heimerdinger (I’ve decided that the next time the Jets make an awful play call on offense, it should be known as a “Schottenheimerdinger”), Paul Hackett, Bob Sutton…the list doesn’t end. And yes, sometimes it is warranted. But it is also an easy way out.

I love Rex Ryan and what he’s brought to the Jets. Sure, sometimes I wish he’d keep his mouth shut, sometimes I wish he’d learn to manage a clock a little bit better, but on the whole I’m more than pleased with Rex leading the Jets. My biggest concern with Ryan is that he’s a defensive coordinator masquerading as a NFL head coach. Ryan has such a love for “his” defense (in case you were wondering, he’ll remind you every time he can that it…”his”) that the offensive suffers. ESPN analyst and memory-less former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Steve Young has consistently stuck on this premise when discussing the Jets, and I think it has a lot of credence.

My next tweet after the in-the-moment Schottenheimer blast mentioned something about getting sick of Rex Ryan-Ball. What’s Rex Ryan-Ball? It is what we’ve seen from the Jets since the home loss to the Patriots in Week 10. It is about doing anything, everything, at all costs, NOT to turn the ball over. Rex Ryan-Ball would rather win a game 13-10 with no turnovers in a nail-biter than win 31-20 by taking a few chances. It is all about the defense. Get my defense on the field at the end of the game with a lead, and we will win. Well, we saw how that worked in Denver, and if Stevie Johnson could catch, how it worked against Buffalo.

I guess you could say that it is smart football. Maybe you share Ryan’s opinion. Maybe that’s just how the Jets have to play. Maybe Sanchez would kill them with pick-six after pick-six if they simply let him chuck the ball all over the place. But Rex Ryan-Ball works best if you have a truly dominant defense, if your running game is elite. The 2000 Ravens, the 85 Bears. Once in a lifetime type of teams. I don’t know if Ryan has got this memo yet, but it is week 13 and the Jets have neither a dominant defense or a good running game this season.

Just know that next time you destroy Schottenheimer for a crappy play call, he has a hulking head coach right behind him, perhaps drilling this style of football into his brain. Do we honestly think that if Ryan wanted to throw the ball downfield more, Schottenheimer wouldn’t listen to him? Would he really disregard his boss? If this in fact does happen, and Ryan has literally no say in offensive matters, then that’s a really big problem. We all know he’s a defensive guy, and you can’t change his defensive football upbringing. But the best coaches in football — Tom Coughlin, Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin — have full command of their sideline. If Tom Coughlin wants to blitz on a specific play, guess what? The Giants will blitz. If Belichick wants to fake a punt? They’re doing it. And it’s likely that Rex does have a say in the offensive style the Jets play, which is why when they struggle to move the ball, you can’t point JUST at Schotty.

And that brings us to this Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs will throw Tyler Palko at the Jets. Tyler freaking Palko, probably the worst quarterback to start an NFL game this season. I, for one, am fascinated to see how the Jets play this thing. For 55 minutes, the Jets were in a dogfight with the Washington Redskins, a bad football team with nothing to play for. The Jets didn’t try to jump on them, get a lead, and stomp on their throats. They were content playing a one-possession game, where one mistake loses them the game. Thankfully, the mistakes came by the guys wearing maroon and gold, and the Jets made a couple big plays. But how often can you count on that to happen?

I want to see the Jets come out guns blazing and give the Chiefs zero hope. I want to see them take the opening kick (stop deferring Rex, “your” defense keeps getting gashed early in games), march down the field and score, force a turnover and score again and put the game out of reach early. At home, the Jets CAN do that against the Chiefs. I hope they do. I think most Jet fans hope they do? Will Rex let them?

Prediction – It will be more of the same. I think the Jets win, and that’s because the Chiefs with Palko at quarterback are one of the worst offensive football teams in a very long time. But my dream of a 31-9 thrashing will probably be just that — a dream. I think they do it the way Rex wants it. Sanchez won’t put up big stats. They’ll try (mostly unsuccessfully) to run the ball. They’ll get some points off turnovers (I’m not sure if we’ve mentioned this yet, but Tyler Palko is really bad). They’ll win something like 20-10. Maybe 17-13 even. I wish the Jets would finally go out and beat up an inferior opponent. I just don’t see it happening.

It Is Now Or Never For Jets Fans: Suggestions For MetLife Stadium

Chris Celletti with a call to action for Jets fans this Sunday and a few suggestions for the MetLife Stadium game-day production crew

I’ve been going to Jets games since the days of Boomer Esiason. I’ve seen some great moments for sure – plenty of bad ones, and now I’ve gotten to experience two different stadiums. MetLife Stadium has many faults. When it was being designed and then built, Jets fans were sold on the idea that this would be OUR stadium – not just a shared one with the Giants – even though we were sharing this one with them too. How would that be accomplished? By green lights, and green signs, and just a bunch of other green things. When I first walked into the place, the color that overrode everything was gray. It’s a huge hunk of steel and concrete. I suppose it is better than the Giants’ red that the seats in the old building had, but walking into MetLife stadium doesn’t exactly invoke an overwhelming amount of Jet pride.

Jets fans have always seemed a bit whiny when it came to not having their own stadium. I say this because there is no reason that on eight Sundays a year (and hopefully more, but who are we kidding?) Jets fans can’t lose their collective minds and go be completely off the wall in support of their team, regardless of the name of the stadium or the color of the seats. I watch enough NFL football on TV to know what a truly great home crowd is. Every other NFL stadium seems totally packed by kickoff; in most buildings the entire place is standing and cheering on the team’s first defensive possession. From being at every Jets home game this season, I can tell you that that’s not nearly the case at MetLife Stadium.

The place is generally about 60% full at kickoff. When I walk into the stadium from the parking lot, usually about a half hour from kickoff, I notice hoards of people still lounging in their bucket seats, knocking back Coors Lights and flipping burgers, priorities clear. Why you’d pay whatever you pay for a Jets ticket and waltz in 25 minutes late because you just had to have another sliver of Sal’s awesome skirt steak, well, I’m not sure. I hope Sunday night is different.

You have all day to tailgate. Get to your seat by 8 o’clock. Go nuts for the team when it is announced. Stand up, get loud, make it as tough as you can for Tom Brady. If the Jets go down by 7, or 10, don’t wallow. Rex Ryan and Bart Scott have both said the crowd could make a difference this week. They’re not crazy.

As for MetLife Stadium? Well, they cant change the colors. Whatever. But there are some things that can be changed.

-First off, don’t attack our senses at every chance. I don’t need to hear “Ridin’ Dirty” blasting in my ears after every Shonn Greene 10 yard run (thank God, in that sense, that he’s had a rough year). My brother, Rob Celletti, has made the very valid point that the blasting of music does absolutely nothing to get people pumped up. Instead, it has the reverse effect. All it does is drone on and drown out any crowd noise.

-Replace your PA announcer, please. I usually don’t begrudge people who do their jobs since, but I know I could do a better job. I swear I could. Almost anyone could.

-You’ve gotta be kidding with “Down With The Sickness” by Disturbed before kickoff. To every New York sports team who isn’t sure what song to play when their team comes out, here are four words: Empire State of Mind.

-Give me more classic highlights during TV timeouts! This was one of the best parts of the old Giants Stadium. So what if we’re losing to the Dolphins 3-0? Show me Ken O’Brien hitting Wesley Walker for an 86-yard bomb in 1988, and all will be fine.

So there’s that. The gameday stadium production will be the same, but one can dream. Either way, now is the time for Jets fans to step up their game and make MetLife Stadium a fortress. The team has given you plenty to cheer about the past two and a half seasons.

Now go cheer.

NFL Week 5 Smart Bets: And The Yankees Post-Mortem

Yikes. Well my Week 4 picks didn’t go so well, thanks to two athletes who are quite similar, Tony Romo and Alex Rodriguez. We’ll get to the Week 5 NFL picks in a little bit, but if you recall one of my bets last week was the Yankees beating the Tigers in the ALDS. I also proclaimed that Jose Valverde’s consecutive saves streak would come to and end, and while it nearly did, well, it didn’t.

So what happened to the 2011 New York Yankees? We’ve had a little time to digest the Yanks’ postseason failure, and I’m going to take what will probably be a very unpopular view on this. This Yankees team actually overachieved. By a lot.

Yeah, it’s possible for a team with the highest payroll in the sport to overachieve.

Heading into the season, all the “experts” had the Red Sox winning the AL East and going to the World Series. And for good reason. Who wouldn’t have picked the BoSox with their rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, a bullpen with the second best closer in the game (I think so at least), and a lineup that is stacked with multiple MVP candidates? If in February you would have told me that the Yankees would lose Alex Rodriguez for about half the season, Mark Teixeira would hit under .250, Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon (it is 2011!!!) would start 51 games combined, Derek Jeter would have a DL stint, A.J. Burnett would have an ERA in the fives and Rafael Soriano would pitch only 39 innings – and with all that the Yankees would win 97 games and win the division by six games, I probably would have told you to check into rehab immediately.

The fact of the matter is is that the Yankees were gritty and gutted their way through 162 games. Sure, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson had MVP-type seasons, with the latter putting up otherworldy numbers. Teixeria had good power numbers but let’s face it, it was a down year for him. Throw in all the Jorge Posada drama, and it wasn’t an easy task winning 97 games by any stretch. This season should go down as a good one for the Yankees. You can’t win it every year.

But in Yankees Universe we have to dissect the playoff meltdowns, and it really doesn’t get much easier than looking at the middle of the lineup. The Yankees simply needed much, much more out of their four, five and six hitters. A-Rod hasn’t been A-Rod all year, but he was vintage postseason A-Rod this year, and he’s starting to prove that his gargantuan 2009 playoff performance was an aberration. Rodriguez will be around for six more years, and thank goodness there is no salary cap in baseball. Additionally, it might be time for the Yankees to try something else in right field. Nick Swisher is a good player, seems like a great guy and teammate, and the fans like him. But man, how much more deer-in-the-headlights could you get than Swisher in the postseason?  Is it really worth the solid regular seasons if he’s going to be an automatic out in October? There are plenty of other players who could play a good right field with a solid bat and have a better approach at the plate in a big situation.

And I think Joe Girardi had a really rough time this postseason. Yanking Ivan Nova so early in Game 5 sent a message to the whole team that he was in panic mode. The Yankees can spin “forearm tightness” for Nova all they want. Girardi freaked out and pulled Nova. He also mismanaged the end of Game 2 by essentially giving away a run by bringing in Luis Ayala, a run that proved not costly but surely important. Girardi doesn’t need to be fired or anything, but he needs to learn from his poor managing the past two postseasons.

The future isn’t dark for the Yankees. Offensively they’ll be built around Cano and Granderson for the next few seasons, with Rodriguez and Teixiera of course capable of putting up big numbers. The pitching may lend itself to a youth movement, with Nova joining Sabathia and Phil Hughes in the rotation full time without the fear of being sent down (although maybe Girardi will pull him every time he gives up a few runs in the first two innings). Burnett will be back (it is what it is), and the Yankees can look to their youth with Dellin Betances or Hector Noesi for the fifth spot. The bullpen will be good as long as Rivera is around.

The Yankees are home early, and any first round loss stings. But fans should take a step back and look at the whole season, and realize that it could have been much, much worse.

And now, on to the picks –

Eagles -3 at Bills

The Eagles are a talented team and they are desperate. The Bills are a nice story, but I don’t think many people see them being a serious playoff threat. The Eagles won’t go 1-4. If they do, Andy Reid better walk around Cheesesteak Town in disguise.

Atlanta +6 vs Green Bay

I’m taking six points with Matt Ryan/Mike Smith at home. I think the Packers could very well win the game, but it will be close. One of the better games of the weekend.

Steelers -3 vs. Titans

I’ll take the Steelers at home off a bad loss. I know the Steelers are banged up, and very much like the Jets, look a little slow and old. But I think Mike Tomlin rallies the team, and at home, they don’t lose to a team quarterbacked by Matt Hasselbeck.

Saints -6.5 at Carolina

No spread is too high for the Saints these days. It could be a shootout, but I think the Saints put up a ton of points.

Non-Football Bonus Bet of the Week

NBA Playing entire season: 8-5

Yes, you can actually bet on this. Things sound a little uplifting recently, with David Stern caving a bit and offering the players close to 50% in revenue. Too much at stake for both sides, I think they get it done.

NFL Week 4 Smart Bets

A ridiculous weekend that involved a lot of drinking restricted me from doing what I love to do this time last week – give gambling advice. Although as with anything, there are mixed results. Two weeks ago, I went 4-for-4 on my NFL picks. I would have made it a perfect cross-sport 5-for-5 had Victor Ortiz not gone completely mad and headbutted Floyd Mayweather, causing Mayweather to rightly sucker punch him into oblivion. I’m convinced that fight absolutely would have ended in rounds 9 through 11, like I said it would. Either way, a pretty solid weekend two weekends ago.

And then, inexplicably this past Tuesday, I said to myself – what’s a more sure bet in this world than Manchester United and Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League against clubs from Switzerland and Amsterdam, AT HOME? At halftime, up 2-0 in both games I was joyous, and then seeing Man-U choke the game away only to do what only the Red Devils could do, score in the 90th minute to tie, was infuriating. Anyway, I’m back on it this weekend with what I think are locks for Week 4 in the NFL.  And away we go…

Giants -1  at Cardinals

As a die-hard Jet fan I can’t believe I’m saying this, but will everyone get off the Giants’ back? This is a team with a solid quarterback (not spectacular, not awful by any stretch), a great defensive line and a very good coach. I’m not saying that the Giants are going anywhere serious this season. They’re in a very tough division that appears as though it is going to beat itself up over the course of the regular season.  But I think to say they are a bad team is really shortsighted. In related news, the Cardinals are a bad team, and the Giants will win this one.

Falcons -4.5 at Seahwaks

This line jumped out to me as being a little low simply because of how bad the Seahawks are. They may have a great home-field advantage, but that’s not enough to keep them close enough in this one when they host a hungry and ticked off Falcons team. The Falcons’ offense has a field day as they win by more than a touchdown.

Cowboys  -1.5 AND Over 46 vs. Lions

The Lions are a fantastic story, and a very good football team, but they’re not going to go undefeated. Tony Romo has shown some great courage in battling through some tough injuries, and usually plays well at home. In a shootout, the Cowboys give the Lions their first loss of 2011.

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week – Yankees in 5

Can the Yankees win one of the games Justin Verlander starts? If they can, they should win the series. I actually think the Yankees will get decent starting pitching from Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia. The Tigers aren’t the most dangerous offensive team. And mark it down: Jose Valverde’s saves streak is coming to an end in this series. It will be a really good series with some dramatic games, but I think the Bombers advance past the Tigers in five games.

As usual, don’t hate me if you lose all your money this weekend.

TOJ Roundtable Week 3: Jets/Raiders Predictions

Joe Caporoso: Read the 12 pack

TJ RosenthalJets Win if: The makeshift line holds up long enough for Mark Sanchez to work the short passing game. Sanchez will throw for 250 plus yards on the day the Jets will offset the loss of Nick Mangold with the addition of the “Wildcat” some Joe McKnight, and more unpredictability in the Jets run game as far as the point of attack is concerned. The Jets secondary will continue their hot start with another handful of interceptions. FINAL: 23-17 JETS

Raiders Win if: The loss of Mangold becomes too much for the Jets to overcome. Backup C Colin Baxter gets beat in crucial moments. The lack of confidence and mutual trust by the makeshift O line up leads to too many false starts. QB Mark Sanchez tries to do too much, and is picked off three plus times. The ground game remains pedestrian. Darren McFadden gashes a tired Jets defense that is on the field too long too many times. FINAL: 31-20 RAIDERS

Chris Celletti: The Jets need to be careful here. West coast trip, no Nick Mangold, two BIG road games coming up after, and Oakland’s home opener? To quote the great (kidding) Mike Francesa, It will NOT be easy. I think the Jets will be able to handle the Raiders’ offense for the most part, but will struggle to run the ball without Nick Mangold at center. The Jets should be able to exploit some mismatches on the outside with Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes, as long as Brian Schottenheimer has his head on straight. I think the Jets will be able to make enough plays in the passing game to get by, and will win in a game that is decided late in the fourth quarter.

Justin Fritze: Colin Baxter is not the name you want to hear today. The Jets will be forced to test the run and play action their way to two touchdowns. I see this one going to the wire in a 21-17 penalty filled game that will finally legitimize the Jets as one of the top 5 teams in the league. Dustin Keller will have a few good catches, look for Santonio and Plaxico to get involved early with a few shots down the field.

Rob Celletti: The superstitious side of me says that it’s a bad idea to keep picking the Jets to win every week, but this is part of getting used to the Jets actually being a team that should expect to win almost every single week.  And so I’ll take the Jets in this one, 23-13.  The consensus this week seems to be that the Jets should be able to throw for a bunch of yards on the Oakland secondary, and while proclamations like this usually lead to unmet expectations, I think it’ll happen.  The matchups just seem right, though I am worried about the makeshift offensive line’s ability to protect Mark Sanchez.  I think the Jets will contain Darren McFadden for the most part and force Jason Campbell into some turnovers by not only pressuring, but also confusing the quarterback with different coverage looks.  Campbell does have a huge arm, so the Jets need to be mindful of the deep ball.  The Raiders will move the ball but mostly be forced into field goal attempts.  The Jets will kick more field goals than you’d like to see, but will do enough to secure their 3rd victory of the year.

Check out the week 3 NFL highlights and picks

TOJ Roundtable: Jets/Jaguars Picks

Joe Caporoso: See the 12 pack.

Justin Fritze: Looking at this with the scientist’s eye, I notice a few things. The Jets defensive line should have a field day. 4 down lineman, 5 man rush should be sufficient. They’re going up against a bunch of scrubs, a 3rd round rookie out of Lehigh (Editor’s Note: again not thrilled with the shot at Lehigh), and a former first round pick in Eugene Monroe. Kenrick Ellis and Muhammad Wilkerson should see serious playing time, and the Jets can probably sit back and have some fun confusing Luke McCown, mixing up coverages, perhaps bringing the famed “cloud coverage” back and tee off from there.

What else do I like about this game? The Jaguars have nobody at linebacker. The Jets will have to run it to death, for one because they need to find out if Joe McKnight can be the change of pace they need, if Shonn Greene can tire a defense, and if Jeremy Kerley and the wild Hornfrog can create some confusion.  The Jets will also occasionally play action with Keller and take a few shots over the middle with Plaxico Burress as he outsizes all the Jaguars DB’s by 3 feet, give or take a few inches. I may be crazy, but I’m gonna go Jets over Jaguars by 6. Don’t ever count out the short man with a “bum knee”. Lot’s of Jets field goals.

Chris Celletti: I think the Jets get this done fairly easily…by Jets standards. I just simply can’t see them having too much trouble with the Jaguars’ offense and Luke McCown specifically. The Jets’ defensive strength is in their run stopping, and the Jaguars lean heavily on Maurice Jones-Drew. While MJD is one of the top runners in the league, the Jets should keep him in check. Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense won’t put up a ton off points, because I think Brian Schottenheimer and Co. will try to really pound the run and get Shonn Greene going. The Jets play an overall solid game, get a few turnovers on defense, and roll to a 24-7 victory.

Rob Celletti: I was originally going to pick the Jets to win in a close game, because as a Jet fan, I know not to get too confident in this team, especially when they’re favored by more than a touchdown.  But Jason Hill’s (who?!) comments today, calling the Jets’ defense “overhyped”, might light an early fire under the team and particularly their defense, so now I expect them to dominate.  Luke McCown is going to have a miserable game with less than 125 yards passing. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville’s only credible threat, will have a decent game, but not much of an impact.  The Jets will get back to a more balanced attack on offense and be able to dominate time of possession, holding the ball for around 35 minutes.  Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason and Shonn Greene will get in the endzone in a 27-7 Jets win.

TJ Rosenthal: Jets Win: If the Jets start fast and begin to show they are putting all phases together together Sunday, we see them winning 31-10. This scenario has Shonn Greene with a 100 yard day and a deep ball to Holmes or Burress for a TD. Keller will shine in this type of game as well. Maurice Jones Drew will cut the Jets lead to a harmless 21-10 at some point with a short yardage TD.

Jags Win: The Jags win 17-10 if the Jets continue to struggle on offense and come out of the gates slowly. The snails pace by Sanchez and co. will allow the Jags to settle in until they can find a few spots to pull off a big run or long completion in order to pull of the upset.