Arthur Smith and Robert Saleh were two of the hot names on the coaching market this offseason. Smith interviewed twice with the Jets and signed with the Atlanta Falcons the day after the Jets hired Saleh. For now, it appears Smith will get the first laugh. Here are the two teams’ outlooks for regular-season wins.
Falcons Over 7
The 28-3 jokes are played out by now, but I’m not sure the wounds the infamous Super Bowl loss created ever fully healed under former coach Dan Quinn. In comes Smith, bringing a celebrated reputation for coaching offense, something the franchise has been seeking since the departure of Kyle Shanahan.
We all probably agree that the Bucs are the rightful favorites in the NFC South, but some wins will be up for grabs. With two games against Sam Darnold and two against Jameis Winston, it’s not impossible that a Falcons team that blew countless big leads last year, including back-to-back 15-point fourth-quarter advantages, can improve enough to be the second-best team in the division. They lost eight games by a touchdown or less and were similar to the Chargers, finding ways to lose.
The list of quarterbacks they face is not exactly daunting outside of Tom Brady. Besides Darnold and Winston, whom they combine to play four times, also on the docket are Daniel Jones, Jared Goff, Zach Wilson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Cam Newton or Mac Jones.
With improved coaching and better luck in close games, the road map is there for Atlanta to get to 10+ wins and cash the Over, and +225 to make the playoffs is also a good bet.
Jets Under 6
They are the Jets. Thanks for reading, enjoy the games … OK, OK, I’ll expand a bit, but the point stands.
This team won two games last year, and I am the furthest thing from a Darnold fan, but the chances of the quarterback play improving are slim, considering Wilson is a rookie. Not only that, Wilson is going into a division with Bill Belichick, Brian Flores and Sean McDermott, all highly regarded defensive coaches.
In his final season at BYU, Wilson faced Navy and Louisiana Tech and scored 17 points in a loss to Coastal Carolina. This will be culture shock for the young quarterback, who has very little chance to absorb it and lead this team near a .500 record.
The travel schedule is not ideal, either. In the first five weeks, the Jets play the Falcons in London and face the Broncos at altitude. This team is in a total teardown (again), and a four- or five-win season with signs of hope from the young QB is about all you can reasonably hope for.
The division is tough. The Bills are one of the favorites to win it all, the Dolphins won 10 games last year and the Patriots are likely to be much improved and are a coin flip to make the playoffs. It is hard to be a bad team in a good division because you don’t get to play yourself, so your schedule is even harder than your division foes.
New coach, new quarterback, same old Jets, at least for this year.
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