LAS VEGAS — Clearly, the Jets’ front office believes it has, at long last, found its franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold. And now that the rocket-armed 21-year-old from USC is signed, sealed and delivering darts to wideouts in training camp, Jets fans are believing as well.
As for the experts in New Jersey and Las Vegas who post NFL odds for a living? They might also believe that Darnold has the skills to turn the franchise around — just not this season.
With a projected win total of 5½ or 6 depending on the sports book, the Jets are in a group with the Browns (5½) and Cardinals (6) for lowest season-win total among the NFL’s 32 teams. Not only that, but two weeks after Darnold was drafted, oddsmakers from CG Technology released betting lines for all NFL games through the first 16 weeks of the 2018 season. The Jets were installed as underdogs in 11 of 15 contests — including all seven on the road. Even the Browns, who have all of one victory over the past two seasons, are a three-point home favorite against Todd Bowles’ squad in Week 3.
Coach Todd Bowles’ Jets were favored in only four games for the upcoming season, according to one set of lines set shortly after the NFL draft.Bill KostrounAs for the four games in which CG Technology currently favors the Jets — against the Dolphins, Bills, Colts and Broncos — it’s by the slimmest of margins: a single point.
The message from oddsmakers is crystal clear: No matter who is under center, Jets fans ought to brace themselves for another long season. As for the betting public, it’s mostly taking a wait-and-see approach.
“We had action on the Jets after the draft, but since then, it’s sort of been standard light action, even in New Jersey,” said Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports books at MGM Resorts International. “Unless a storyline starts to shake loose or Darnold looks fantastic in the preseason, I’d imagine people are going to be sitting on the sidelines waiting to see what happens. They probably want to see something out of [Darnold] before they’re willing to invest.”
Bettors will certainly get that opportunity over the next month, as Darnold (barring injury) will receive plenty of reps in the Jets’ four preseason games. The true test will come, as usual, in the third game, which is the annual dress rehearsal for most teams. Rood said if Darnold and his teammates show well in their annual summer showdown against the Giants on Aug. 24, people may begin to buy stock in the Jets, particularly betting them “over” their win total.
“If for some reason the Jets look really good in their first two games and it continues in Week 3 and there starts to really be some buildup around them, we have the potential to take some pretty serious money, especially in the [New Jersey] region,” Rood said. “People love to bet what they see, and if [Darnold] looks good — even though everyone will know in their brain that it’s only the preseason — it will be hard to stop the optimism.”
That optimism is already on the uptick at one New Jersey sports book. Nick Bogdanovich, the director of trading for William Hill US, says the majority of money on the Jets’ win total at the company’s Monmouth Park sports book has been on Over 5½, driving the vigorish price from minus-130 to minus-145.
More shockingly, Bogdanovich notes 500 bettors have walked up to William Hill’s windows at Monmouth Park and grabbed Gang Green at 100/1 to win the Super Bowl. That puts the Jets behind only the Giants (1,600) and Eagles (755) for most Super Bowl futures tickets sold at Monmouth Park.
“The Jets showed some promise last year, but still to have that many tickets on them [to win the Super Bowl] is sort of surprising,” Bogdanovich said. “Now we just have to hope they don’t win it.”
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