Where are Jimmy Hoffa’s remains? What happened to Amelia Earhart? What exactly landed in Roswell, New Mexico? Over the past century, these have generally been considered America’s biggest pop-culture mysteries. And they’re about to be trumped by something far more inexplicable: How in the hell did Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez lead the New York Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Games?
I looked it up again, just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating: Following the 2009 season—Ryan’s first as an NFL head coach, Sanchez’s first as an NFL quarterback—the Jets came within a game of reaching the Super Bowl. Then they did it again 12 months later. As unfathomable as it was when it was happening in real time, it’s become even more so 2½ years hence, as we watch the entire Jets franchise dog paddle in a cesspool of their own making—without a life preserver in sight.
You know the details: Ryan has lost his mojo and his players’ respect; Sanchez has lost his confidence and his accuracy (not that he ever possessed much of either); and the front office has lost its collective mind, jettisoning All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis and reliable tight end Dustin Keller, while adding QBs Tim Tebow and Geno Smith. (While we’re on the topic of acquiring crappy quarterbacks: Welcome to the Jets, Mr. Brady Quinn!)
So now you know why New York enters Week 1 as a 3-point home underdog to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—the same Buccaneers who lost five of their final six games in 2012, have their own quarterback problems (an inconsistent Josh Freeman) and are 1-9 all time against the Jets (that win came back in 1984 … and it didn’t come in New York).
Fully cognizant of these details—not to mention the fact that Joe Public won’t touch the Jets in this game, and that you should avoid road underdogs in Week 1—I’m still confident Tampa Bay is the best bet of the week. I’m also confident about this: The Hoffa, Earhart and Roswell cases will be resolved long before anyone unravels the aforementioned Jets’ mystery …
Lucky Seven: Buccaneers -3 at Jets (Best Bet); Chiefs -3½ at Jaguars; Panthers +3 vs. Seahawks; Falcons-Saints OVER 54; Michigan -3½ vs. Notre Dame; Oregon State -27 vs. Hawaii; West Virginia +20½ at Oklahoma. Last Week’s Results: 3-0.
Scott Spreitzer of Pregame.com says … Take the Panthers +3. The Seahawks’ pass rush is banged up right now, and Cam Newton will want to make up for one of his worst performances last year, a 16-12 loss to Seattle.
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Matt Jacob appears Wednesdays on Pregame.com’s First Preview, which airs 10-11 a.m. weekdays on ESPN Radio 1100-AM.