By Juan Pablo Aravena
- The New York Jets are a team to watch in one of the most unpredictable divisions in the NFL ahead of the 2020 season. Despite going through another subpar season in 2019, New York might have a real shot at winning the AFC East (+850) in 2020 since there is no NFL consensus pick to win the division.
- The uncertainty around their top division rivals, the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills, creates an opportunity. However, the Jets also deserve credit for their own potential in-house improvements.
- New York posted a 7-9 record and finished third in the AFC East in 2019, but they ended the regular-season winning six of their last eight games.
AFC East OddsThe New York Jets have a huge opportunity in front of them ahead of the 2020 regular-season. For the first time in what feels like forever, New York has a decent, realistic chance of not only reaching the playoffs, but also winning the AFC East.
Some bookies might not think the same, though. The Jets have been given +135 odds to finish fourth in AFC East, +170 odds to finish third, +380 odds to finish second, and +850 to finish atop the division. In other words, most experts believe they’ll end in last place of the AFC East. While betting on the Jets to win the division is risky, it’s not as crazy as it might sound.
Navigating Divisional Opponents
It’s fair to consider that the New England Patriots got noticeably weaker during the offseason. They lost Tom Brady, who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which means the offense will be led by newcomer Cam Newton. That’s far from the ideal scenario for the Patriots, as the differential between the quarterbacks is drastic. The Patriots also suffered from an opt-out of several key defensive pieces due to COVID-related concerns.This could leave the Buffalo Bills as the “team to beat” in the AFC East, but they may not be as good as people think. Josh Allen remains an unfinished product, they are betting on young players to offer sustained production — which is never easy in any sport, let alone the NFL — and might have overachieved a bit last season. It also remains to be seen how they’ll handle the pressure of being favorites, something this group of players has never experienced in the past.
As for the Jets, they can take confidence in their chances after winning six of the final eight regular-season games in 2019. The Jets could’ve easily fought for an AFC Wild Card spot had they shown improvements earlier in the season, and they still managed to go 7-9 despite Sam Darnold missing a few games in the opening weeks of the campaign due to contracting mono.
Speaking of Darnold, the Jets could very well have the best quarterback in the division. Allen has struggled with consistency, Newton is a fairly unproven passer, and the Miami Dolphins will likely rotate between 37-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie Tua Tagovailoa throughout the campaign.
Cream Of The CropThe numbers don’t lie. Darnold threw for 3,024 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions, completing 61.9 percent of his passes in 2019. That’s a steep improvement compared to what he did in his rookie year, when he finished with 17 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and a 57.7 passing completion percentage. Darnold also racked up more passing yards, as he only tossed for 2,865 in 2018. The Jets signal-caller started 13 games in both seasons.
Darnold will look to carry the Jets this year. If the team is able to repeat what they did in the second half of the season, then it wouldn’t be a stretch to think they might end up as the new top dogs of the AFC East. With +850 odds, the reward is far more intriguing than the potential loss.
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