- Detroit's new coach Matt Patricia makes his regular season head coaching debut against a Jets team that he is quite familiar with.
New York Jets at Detroit Lions (-6.5)
Mon. 9/10, 7:10 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Jets-Lions:
1. Despite a nine-win season in 2017, Detroit fired head coach Jim Caldwell in favor of former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Patricia inherits a defense that ranked 27th in the NFL in yards allowed and 21st in the league in points allowed. That was despite the fact that in the Lions' two games against the rival Packers, Detroit got to face Brett Hundley instead of Aaron Rodgers. When he makes his regular season debut, Patricia should benefit from facing a familiar foe in the Jets, a team he gameplanned for twice a season during his 12-year stint as a defensive assistant in New England, which included the past six seasons as coordinator. Under head coach Todd Bowles, the Jets averaged just 15.3 points per game against Patricia’s Patriot defenses. New York scored only 32 points total over its last four games of 2017, and the team lacks firepower on offense. Quarterback Sam Darnold may be the future of the franchise, but he’s behind a flimsy offensive line and obviously lacks experience as a 21-year-old rookie.
2. Since they failed to make the playoffs, it's easy to overlook the fact that the Lions were the seventh-highest scoring team in the NFL last season (25.6 points per game). While Caldwell is gone, offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter remains, which will provide consistency for the offense and help them continue to put points on the board. Quarterback Matthew Stafford possesses MVP-caliber talent, and the Lions have a pair of solid wide receivers in Marvin Jones, who led the NFL in yards per reception last season, and Golden Tate, a reliable catch-and-run option who is one of only two NFL players to reach 90 receptions in each of the past four seasons. (Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown is the other.)
The area where Detroit needed to improve most was its ground game. While the Lions ranked fourth in the NFL in passing touchdowns (29), they were 21st in rushing TDs (10). Detroit addressed this over the offseason, adding free-agent running back LeGarrette Blount and using early draft picks on running back Kerryon Johnson and interior offensive lineman Frank Ragnow.
The more balanced approach should result in success against a young Jets defense coming off an up-and-down 2017 season. The Jets were one of only five teams to fail to reach 30 sacks last season. Lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and linebacker Demario Davis, the team's leading tackler in 2017, are both no longer on the roster, which means New York has nobody on defense that surpassed three sacks last season. If Stafford isn't pressured in the pocket, he will have no trouble finding the end zone.
3. The Lions' Ford Field has become a challenging environment for opposing teams in recent seasons. As home favorites, Detroit is 13-8 against the spread since the start of the 2014 season. That percentage jumps to a 10-4 ATS mark when the Lions face teams outside the NFC North. The Jets, meanwhile, haven’t been particularly good away from home of late. They were 2-5-1 against the spread on the road last season, and are 6-12-5 ATS on the road since the start of 2015.
The Pick: Lions -6.5
Confidence Level: Very High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)