It’s the New York Jets’ next best chance to stop the bleeding as they play host to the Las Vegas Raiders, but they’ll have to do so as greater than touchdown underdogs according to the markets. In their penultimate home game, we look at the Jets’ path to a single victory and the NFL odds offered at the sportsbook on whether the Jets go 0-16.
First, some inspiration from a Jets’ franchise from a long-ago era.
Adam Gase’s best chance here is to sit the team down and play the film from the 1968 AFL Championship Game for inspiration. It’s their only hope.
That was the game that Joe Namath’s Jets won the American Football League Championship. Two years prior, the NFL agreed to a merger with the AFL, but for the first few years, the leagues would compete separately. Their respective champions would meet in some kind of a post-post-season super championship. (After some solid marketing meetings, they settled on the catchy name “AFL-NFL World Championship Game.” Rolls right off the tongue.)
The championship games usually offered more excitement than the super championship that came after because of the disparity of the leagues. The NFL would crown its champ, and the AFL would do the same for theirs, so the AFL winner could head off to get beat like a red-headed stepchild at the Big Game.
On this particularly cold December day at Shea Stadium, the 11-3 Jets played host to the 13-2 Oakland Raiders. This is old-school AFL points-on-the-board football where any score under 30 was a disappointment, in contrast to a good old-fashioned 9-6 NFL finish. These Raiders had the quarterback of the day, Daryle Lamonica, and they’d already beaten the Jets the previous month, 43-32. That is remembered for other reasons: “The Heidi Game.”
The field conditions of torn, frozen turf mixed with whipping winds kept the score relatively low in the first half, the Jets leading 13-10 but at the cost of some quarterback abuse on Namath, the likes of which would get you kicked out of a modern game along with a steep fine. (Hey kids — lookit who’s on the Raiders’ sidelines — it’s linebackers’ coach John Madden. Someone should hire him for a video-game franchise.)
Seeking to add to their four-point lead in the fourth quarter, Namath threw a pass in Jets’ territory and George Atkinson absolutely picked Don Maynard’s pocket. The Raiders’ corner carried the pick into the red zone, where Namath threw himself into front of Atkinson (whose nickname was “Butch”) to drive him out of bounds.
On a plunging Pete Banaszak touchdown, Oakland took its first lead, 23-20, but that lead would last all of 33 seconds. On the subsequent drive, Namath hooked up with Maynard at the end of a monster rainbow that the wideout, more or less, caught at the 12-yard line. Another Maynard touchdown catch put the Jets back on top 27-23.
This was the AFL however, which held to the conventional wisdom that, in a game like this, the last team to possess the ball would win. In this case, with 2:20 left, that was the Raiders, driving deep into Jets’ territory. Lamonica took the snap and dropped back, throwing a lateral to Charlie Smith — which Smith appears to be completely ready to catch, a half-second later and thrown to his other shoulder.
Flailing out, Smith doesn’t touch the pass and watches as it rolls on the ground when Ralph Baker rumbles in, practically comes to standstill to pick up the ball, and hikes it downfield, stopping when he realizes the rules were the ball could not be advanced.
These Jets would go on to be 18-point underdogs to the “true” NFL champion, Don Shula and the Baltimore Colts, who had just a couple of weeks before finished curb-stomping the Cleveland Browns 34-0. They picked a better name for their game — the Super Bowl — in which the Jets would go on to a stunning upset of the Colts 16-7.
Who are we kidding? Gase is just going to play the tape from last year’s 34-3 win over these same Raiders. Strap Sam Darnold in a chair at a seedy out-of-town motel and program him Clockwork-Orange style with the all-22 tape. Do it, Adam!
The updated line for whether the Jets will go 0-16 is +115, down from +150 after they lost last week to the Dolphins. After the Raiders, their four remaining opponents have a combined 28-16 record — the Seahawks, the Rams, the Browns, and the Patriots.
Odds of +115 implies a 53.5% chance that the Jets will beat one of the remaining five teams on their schedule. Curiously, that works out to about 14% for any given game (simplifying things by calculating each game as equal) whereas their +300 moneyline price this week versus the Raiders works out to be a 25% chance.
The Road So Far…
|ATS Result||Dolphins cover by 9½|
When it died: Miami technically put it out of reach via a Ryan Fitzpatrick touchdown to Adam Shaheen with 6:54 left. While Xavien Howard would pick off Sam Darnold just two plays later, the Jets really gave up on the drive before that.
The Jets scored first but fell behind 13-3 by the half. The Dolphins did everything in their power to gift the Jets a win, or at least a cover, in the third quarter. Miami fumbled on consecutive drives, first on their 45, then on their 26 — and the Jets failed to convert either possession, the shortest dying on a failed fourth and one on the Miami 17-yard line.
New York didn’t try to go for it, albeit on a fourth-and-10 after their next drive went three and out at their own 42. Their next drive saw Sam Darnold throw an interception on the second play; the Dolphins would hold the ball for the final 6:20.
|Opponent||Los Angeles Chargers|
|ATS Result||Jets cover by 4|
When it won: Their third cover of the season showed the powers of Adam Gase could not stop the power of Anthony Lynn — at least their power to blow point-spread covers. With four minutes left in the game, Joe Flacco threw a touchdown pass to Chris Herndon bringing them to within eight points.
The Chargers then went three and out, looking like they could figure out a way to somehow allow the Jets a tying score. The Jets couldn’t get any further than the Los Angeles 32 on what should have been their final drive attempt. Should have, because the Chargers still managed to turn the ball over with one more play for the Jets after giving up a purposeful safety.
The ending was a good reminder the Jets squandered one of their best opportunities for a win. At least they improve to 3-1 ATS in their last four.
|Final Score||Gase 1-Jets 0|
|ATS Result||Not good|
Bye Week: It’s hard to lose during your bye week, but not firing your coach as a 0-9 team going into your bye sends a unique message. While the management and ownership for the team have been in a strange political holding pattern for the past few years, there’s an understanding that widespread change is on its way.
Jets faithful have heard that song before, but it does raise the question how much support the ownership is giving to the practice of tanking games to improve draft position and leaving the dud coach to help that along. It’s a clear message they’re not interested in trying out anyone else currently in their coaching ranks.
|Opponent||New England Patriots|
|ATS Result||Jets cover by 6|
Finally: You did it, Jets — a sweat-free, wire-to-wire point-spread cover!
They carried a ten-point lead into the locker room at the half and fought to keep it in the third quarter. After weeks of failed bets, sharps could finally feel good about taking points with New York, even laughing off the fourth-quarter interception they threw that set up the Patriots’ tying touchdown.
Of course, New England went on to move the ball 45 yards in as many seconds, setting up their game-winning 51-yard field goal, and sending the Jets into their bye week with an 0-9 record.
|Opponent||Kansas City Chiefs|
|ATS Result||Chiefs cover by 6|
When it died: Causing a splash when it opened, the point spread between the Jets and the Chiefs ranked in the top ten largest chalk in the Super-Bowl era. Wiseguys grabbed the +21 right away, with the closing number split between widely-available +19½ or +20s.
Here is a look at the latest Super Bowl Odds
Sure enough, New York trailed by 19 going into the fourth quarter. While the Chiefs seemed content to experiment with new plays instead of hanging at least 30 on their opponent, these were still the Jets. On a casual third and five, Patrick Mahomes flung a 40-yard pass to Tyreek Hill that broke CB Blessuan Austin’s ankles, as Hill scooted into the end zone.
Afterward, the Jets went three and out, the Chiefs obliterated over seven minutes of clock on a 12-play drive which ended on the Jets’ 34, not with a field goal attempt, but rather a failed pass attempt to leave New York with a shred of dignity. Even with decent field position and two remaining timeouts, the Jets ran three plays with no hurry-up offense or any effort to scrape out a garbage-time touchdown to cover the number.
With a 26-point difference, the Jets became only the third team ever to fail covering a 20+ point spread. (It’s an exclusive club with the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 1991 Indianapolis Colts.)
|ATS Result||Jets cover by 1½|
When it died: It didn’t die. The Jets covered! Carrying a 10-0 lead late into the first half, the Jets appeared to at least tease an upset. Had Buffalo swapped some of its half dozen field goals for touchdowns, or even hit paydirt on the other two missed field-goal attempts, the final would have been closer to 24-10 or 30-10. It was still a sweat for Jets’ backers, like Buffalo, up to five and driving as the clock approached the two-minute warning, settled for a field goal after being stuffed on a third and two at the Jets’ 22.
|ATS Result||Dolphins cover by 14|
When it died: The Jets’ strategy to defeat the Dolphins by punting ten times in a game proved to be ineffective. Miami scored its second touchdown early in the second quarter and never looked back. The Jets ran a total of four second-half offensive plays in Miami territory, and one of those was a missed field goal from 55 yards.
|ATS Result||Cardinals cover by 13|
When it died: In a low-scoring affair, the Jets managed a third-quarter touchdown to Jamison Crowder to pull within seven points. As the third wound down, Arizona tacked on another touchdown, followed by another with 8:35 left in the game. A 12-play drive which crashed out on the Cardinals’ 35 with about five minutes remaining ended the Jets’ efforts.
|ATS Result||Broncos cover by 10|
When it died: Not only were they favored — no really, how badly do the oddsmakers think of the Broncos? — but they even covered the number for an entire quarter. The Jets’ largest offensive effort so far this season also resulted in a fourth-quarter lead over these Broncos. What would have been a push lasted only a few minutes though, as Denver took back the lead with a field goal at 3:08, and then picking up an insurance touchdown past the two-minute warning off two stalled Jets’ drives.
|ATS Result||Colts cover by 16½|
When it died: Midway through the second quarter, the Colts tacked on a field goal to establish a 13-point lead which only grew as the Jets failed to score another point. Any thoughts of a miracle backdoor cover were dismissed by an Indianapolis Pick-Six at the end of the third quarter.
|Opponent||San Francisco 49ers|
|ATS Result||49ers cover by 11|
When it died: The Niners pulled to a 14-3 lead with a mid-second-quarter touchdown, covering the spread from that point on. New York’s garbage-time score at the end left only 1:23 on the clock and an 18-point deficit. (They didn’t even attempt an on-side kick.)
|ATS Result||Bills cover by 3½|
When it died: Buffalo covered the number from the time they scored their first touchdown at 5:38 in the first quarter. After scoring a garbage-time touchdown to pull within ten points, the clock left only 0:54 in the game. The Jets’ onside kick was unsuccessful.