There have been a few weird trends in pigskin betting this season, characterized by the rush of “Under” bets bringing the Over/Under totals down on a bunch of preseason and early-season NFL games. Coaches were so conservative and bound to using training-camp players at skill positions that defenses ruled the exhibition slate, and the rash of low-scoring scrums spilled over in the 17-week schedule.
Another difference in 2019 is that the discussion of “who’s the worst team” has arrived sooner than usual. Typically there are a whole bunch of NFL clubs at 1-3 and 2-4, and after a few weeks of failing and flailing by the worst of the bunch, articles will begin to be posted on blogs speculating about the top picks in the next year’s NFL Draft.
But this season, there’s a bunch of smelly, stinky last-place teams that we’re pretty sure are headed for the cellar at the end of the year. The Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins will hold a vintage “Super Bowl rematch” this Sunday, from which reports and recaps could be more like a Blooper Bowl Dispatch. The Denver Broncos might finish last-place overall in the AFC, and the Arizona Cardinal defense might be the poorest unit in the league.
From my POV there isn’t quite as much noise about how bad the New York Jets are – it would appear that the club’s high-profile supporters like Mike Greenberg are simply resigned to losing at this point. The 0-4 Jets have looked as miserable as any loser in the NFL over the last 3 weeks, not even coming close to beating the Browns, Patriots, or Eagles, and looking entirely non-competitive in the 2nd half of 2 of the games.
Given how the Cowboys began the season, you might imagine Dallas as a double-digit favorite when the Cowboys visit the Jets at MetLife Stadium this Sunday. But a few cracks in the ‘Boys armor have led to a mundane TD + XP point spread for when Downtrodden David meets a greedy Goliath in Week 6.
Who: Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets
When: Sunday, October 13th, 4:25 PM EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Lines: DAL (-7) at NYJ (+7) / O/U Total: (44.5)
The Silver Star has been surprised and beaten in its last pair of appearances. Few expected backup New Orleans QB Teddy Bridgewater to out-play Dak Prescott when the Cowboys visited the Superdome, but Bridgewater was more accurate through the air and had a better ground game to rely on in the Saints’ 12-10 victory. The following week it was the Dallas D’s turn to have an off-week against Aaron Rodgers and a potentially-resurgent Pack.
New York was blessed with a bye in Week 4, giving QB Sam Darnold time to deal with a kiss he shouldn’t have made or a beer he shouldn’t have drank. Darnold still sat-out with mononucleosis last week, which led to 1 more week of Luke Falk, which resulted in a 31-6 loss in Philadelphia.
Falk threw 2 interceptions, and has now thrown for just 416 yards with no TD’s and 3 picks in 3 starts. To say the Jets need Darnold back would be a huge understatement, and he’ll likely play this Sunday:
The locker room is elated to have Darnold back, even as running back Le’Veon Bell cautioned: “We can’t expect Sam to just go out there and be Superman.”
Darnold’s return almost has to bring improvement: Over three games with Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk at quarterback, the Jets were 5 of 40 on third-down attempts (worst in the league during that span). They have one passing touchdown, by Darnold in Week 1, and just 454 passing yards — total. And they gave up 10 sacks to the Eagles on Sunday.
Theoretically, Darnold is surrounded by playmakers. A WR trio of Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, and Demariyus Thomas is not shabby. Thomas returned from IR last week and was targeted 9 times, catching 4 passes for 47 yards. However, after what Aaron Jones and the Packers did to the Cowboy defense last week, Jason Garrett’s play-script will likely favor RB LeVeon Bell.
Meanwhile, Kellen Moore is under attack from the media as the play-calling is being questioned in Big D. Dallas only ran the ball 12 times against Green Bay despite having 1 of the best tailbacks in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott, and Dak Prescott rang-up a huge yardage total through the air – including a prodigious 226 yards on Amari Cooper targets alone – but the poor run defense made it too tough to catch up after a bad start.
I’m feeling the Cowboys a lot here. Play-calling controversies are often bunk – too many fans think you can win a Super Bowl by simply calling all of the right plays, like it’s a video game or something. Heck – it’s hard to win in PlayStation football with sound play-calling alone.
What’s more, the Jets’ poor offensive line play won’t disappear just because the starting QB is back. If New York’s offensive line was blocking well enough to hold-back the Cowboys this weekend, then Falk’s numbers would be a whole lot shinier than there’d be speculation about him keeping the job.
Few players or coaches’ jobs are likely to be safe with the Jets after this season.
Take the Cowboys to cover (-7).