Do NFL schedule-makers have a sense of humor? How else to explain the fairly random season opener that has the New York Jets and rookie starting quarterback Zach Wilson visiting the Carolina Panthers and former Jets starting QB Sam Darnold in Week 1? New York opened as a 4-point underdog on the William Hill Sportsbook NFL odds. Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick, will face off against No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars in Week 16 (barring injuries, etc.).
The Jets have been a dumpster fire in terms of drafting quarterbacks since 2010. Instead of giving 2018 No. 3 overall pick Darnold a shot with a new coaching staff to right his career, the Jets shipped Darnold off to the Panthers and are entrusting their future to the former BYU signal-caller Wilson – who wasn't even on most NFL scouts' radar this time last year. Under first-year head coach Robert Saleh, New York has an Over/Under of 6.0 wins this season at William Hill, and the SportsLine Projection Model forecasts Gang Green for 4.6 wins, the fewest in the NFL.
The list of Jets QBs drafted since 2010 before Wilson: James Morgan (fourth round 2020), Darnold (first round 2018), Christian Hackenberg (second round 2016), Bryce Petty (fourth round 2015), Tajh Boyd (sixth round 2014), Geno Smith (second round 2013) and Greg McElroy (seventh round 2011).
Wilson is the first BYU quarterback to be drafted since John Beck in the second round of the 2007 draft by the Dolphins. No BYU QB has been a good pro since Steve Young was the No. 1 pick of the 1984 supplemental round. Wilson is thus the highest-drafted player in the normal draft from the school.
Last year, Wilson led BYU to an 11-1 record by completing 73.5 percent of his passes (second in the FBS, school record) for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns and just three picks. His rating of 196.4 was No. 2 nationally and broke Jim McMahon's school record. One concern, though, over Wilson's career: As a starting quarterback against AP-ranked teams in his career, Wilson went 2-4 with eight touchdown passes and five interceptions.
In free agency, New York's big additions were linemen Carl Lawson and Sheldon Rankins and linebacker Jarrad Davis on defense and running back Tevin Coleman and receiver Corey Davis on offense. Lawson recorded 38 pressures from right end/right outside linebacker in 2020, the most in the NFL. A defensive front of Lawson, Quinnen Williams (broken foot but should be fine for camp) and Rankins should be a strength (the Jets are shifting to a 4-3).
Davis was the No. 5 overall pick in 2017 but never lived up to expectations with the Titans with zero 1,000-yard seasons. He did have 64 catches, 984 yards and five touchdowns last year. Coleman was injured most of 2020 with Saleh's 49ers and had just 28 carries and 63 offensive snaps. Coleman is a good receiver out the backfield, though, and thus should be a perfect fit in new coordinator Mike LaFleur's offense.
As noted above, the SportsLine Projection Model has the Jets winning just 4.6 games in 2021 despite the added game for all teams. Houston is second-lowest with 4.8 victories.
The Jets' 2021 schedule is ranked as the 19th-toughest in the league as their 17 opponents – hosting Philadelphia is the 17th game -- were a combined 132-138-2 last season.
New York Jets trends/William Hill Sportsbook odds
- 2020 record: 2-14 (6-10 against the spread, 7-9 Over/Under)
- 2021 strength of schedule rank: 19th (opponents' combined winning percentage of .489)
- 2021 Over/Under win total: 6.0
- SportsLine Projection Model forecasted wins: 4.6
- Odds to win Super Bowl 56: +8000
- To win AFC: +4000
- To win AFC East: +1600
- To make playoffs: No -550, yes +425
- NFL MVP odds: N/A
New York Jets Schedule
Week 1 at Carolina Panthers: Jets have covered just two of seven all-time meetings
Week 2 vs. New England Patriots: Jets have lost five straight at home in series but are 3-2 ATS
Week 3 at Denver Broncos: Teams met in New Jersey last year and Jets were 1-point favorites, losing 37-28
Week 4 vs. Tennessee Titans: First meeting anywhere since 2018; New York is 3-0 ATS in past three
Week 5 at Atlanta Falcons (London): Past three in series decided by a combined 10 points; Jets are 2-1 ATS
Week 6 BYE
Week 7 at New England Patriots: Jets' last win at New England was in 2008 but they did cover as recently as 2019
Week 8 vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Cincinnati is 3-0 SU & 2-0-1 ATS in past three meetings overall
Week 9 at Indianapolis Colts (TNF): Jets were +11.5 last year at Indy and lost 36-7
Week 10 vs. Buffalo Bills: Buffalo has won three straight at the Jets but is 1-2 ATS
Week 11 vs. Miami Dolphins: New York was routed 20-3 last year, its third straight ATS home loss vs. Fins
Week 12 at Houston Texans: Houston is 3-0 SU (1-1-1 ATS) in past three overall meetings
Week 13 vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Added 17th opponent; Eagles have won past eight in series, going 7-1 ATS
Week 14 vs. New Orleans Saints: New York lost last meeting 31-19 in 2017 but has covered past two overall
Week 15 at Miami Dolphins: Jets haven't won or covered a game in South Florida since 2014
Week 16 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jags have won and covered the past two in the series, both at home
Week 17 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jets' eight-game SU & ATS win streak in series ended in last meeting (2017)
Week 18 at Buffalo Bills: New York's two-game ATS & SU road win streak in series ended last year in 27-17 defeat
Where does every player appear in our 2021 Fantasy football rankings? And which rookie quarterback will provide shocking value? Join SportsLine right now to get 2021 Fantasy football rankings, all from the model that simulated the entire season 10,000 times.