July 28, 2021

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Not yet time to back Sam Darnold

3 min read
Not yet time to back Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold is back!

What does that mean for betting markets? It’s still tough to gauge his exact point-spread value because there are so many warehoused Jets unable to fly … and because sharp perceptions in general have changed about this team.

Pro bettors have noticed many other teams have weathered quarterback injury storms without plummeting in the power ratings. The Jets collapsed from possible dark horse to expansion-caliber in the blink of an eye. Well, the offense on its own was arguably even worse than expansion-caliber.

The Jets will likely close as a touchdown underdog Sunday at home against the Dallas Cowboys (4:25 p.m., CBS). Using a standard three points for home-field advantage, that suggests the Jets would be 10 points worse on a neutral field than a slumping visitor that just lost at home to Green Bay, 34-24, and on the road at shorthanded New Orleans, 12-10. Let’s see where that puts the Jets in VSiN’s estimate of “market” power ratings.

AFC: Patriots 90, Chiefs (with injuries) 85, Texans 83, Ravens 82, Bills 81, Colts 81, Titans 80, Jaguars (Gardner Minshew) 80, Chargers (with injuries) 79, Browns 79, Raiders 79, Broncos 79, Steelers (Devlin Hodges) 75, Bengals 74, Jets (Darnold) 73, Dolphins 64.

Each week, Jonathan Von Tobel (“The Edge”) and I put our heads together to deduce what point spreads imply about league-wide point differentials. The Jets were down at 71 last week. That’s before Philadelphia pounded them 31-6, winning total yardage 265-128 on 4.5 to 2.3 yards-per-play. If we assume a drop to 70 or 69 with Luke Falk at quarterback, we can project that Darnold’s return is worth about 3-4 points.

We dropped the Cowboys to 83 off their loss to the Packers.

NFC: Rams 84, Packers 83, Eagles 83, Cowboys 83, Vikings 83, Seahawks 83, 49ers 83, Bears 82, Saints (Teddy Bridgewater) 82, Panthers (Kyle Allen) 81, Lions 80, Falcons 79, Buccaneers 79, Giants 76, Cardinals 74, Redskins 71.

Maybe Cowboys 83, Jets 73 isn’t quite right. It doesn’t seem correct to keep the Cowboys at 84 given recent form (which would put “the Jets with Darnold” at 74). Maybe the sum of market influences really has it at 82 and 72. We’ll know more in future weeks.

For now, the Jets are still seen as one of the worst teams in the AFC (and the league) even with Darnold. A much cleaner read is ahead against a variety of opponent classifications. The Jets host defending Super Bowl champion New England next week. That’s followed by a road trip to potentially up-and-coming Jacksonville. Then, three other distant power rating also-rans — at Miami, vs. the Giants, and at Washington.

Should optimistic bettors believe Darnold will make the Jets a value choice? Dicey. He likely will be rusty at first. And, the youngster hasn’t performed like a superstar at full health. Plus, Dallas is in an obvious bounce-back spot, at a road site it’s familiar with because of annual visits to play the Giants. More logical Jets investment opportunities are a few weeks away.


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