BlackJack Fletcher: How I’m Betting Jets-Lions and Rams-Raiders on Monday Night

BlackJack Fletcher: How I’m Betting Jets-Lions and Rams-Raiders on Monday Night article feature image

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Pictured: Oakland Raiders fans

  • The New York Jets will take on the Detroit Lions (-7), and the Los Angeles Rams (-4.5) face the Oakland Raiders on Monday night to close out Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season.
  • BlackJack Fletcher breaks down both matchups and gives his picks for each game.

The first Sunday of the NFL season was predictably unpredictable. It usually takes a few games to get a real read on most teams. That will, of course, not deter us from gambling on those games, but it is something to be aware of.

Week 1 now concludes with a pair of Monday Night Football games on ESPN. We have the Lions at home against rookie QB Sam Darnold and the Jets in the early game. The late game features the Oakland Raiders and old/new coach Jon Gruden hosting the Los Angeles Rams.

Here’s what you need to know to take care of business, baby!

All spreads as of Monday morning.

New York Jets at Detroit Lions (-7)

7:10 p.m. ET

This game is intriguing for several reasons. First and foremost, we get a look at Darnold … the latest and greatest savior at quarterback for the New York Jets.

Darnold played well in the preseason, although the training wheels were still very clearly on. I expect them to stay on in this game. While the Jets have not been a dynamic team of late, they aren’t devoid of talent with Robby Anderson, Terrelle Pryor, Quincy Enunwa and Isaiah Crowell.

Their defense is also competitive and young, featuring a pair of safeties taken in last year’s draft who may become as good as any in football. The Jets are also one of those teams that are scrappy and play tough.

The Lions are starting the season with a new head coach in former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. They retained Jim Bob Cooter as offensive coordinator, so there shouldn’t be much change on that side of the ball.

The Lions are a team that has talent throughout the roster yet always seems to fall short of expectations. Matt Stafford has had, what I would consider, an underrated career at this point, and is hungry for a return to the playoffs and some success on that stage.

When playing this game, one cannot underestimate how the Jets’ caution with their shiny new toy will affect the scoreboard. I think we see a ball control-type game from New York with some short passes spread throughout.

The Lions are good enough to win this game, and they should win the game, but the number feels right in terms of the outcome.

THE PICK: 1H Under 22.5

Los Angeles Rams (-4.5) at Oakland Raiders

10:20 p.m. ET

I have spent quite a bit of time over the last few days trying to find a reason to like the Raiders in this game, and I simply cannot come up with one. The Rams have added Brandin Cooks to an offense that was the league’s best last year.

Todd Gurley and Jared Goff are another year into the system led by head coach Sean McVay. And then there is the defense — solid last season that has added Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.

This team should be explosive and aggressive. The Rams rested their key players a lot in the preseason, so there may be some rust to shake off. But after that, watch out.

The Raiders, on the other hand, have had a tumultuous offseason to say the least. First they brought back Gruden as head coach and then proceeded to let wide receiver Michael Crabtree leave for Baltimore.

They replaced him with an injury-prone Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant, who has since been released. Oakland’s offense did not exactly look dynamic in the preseason, and its defense lost its leader and best player when Khalil Mack was traded to Chicago.

The Raiders appear to be a team in transition at this point, more interested in having the capital and space to acquire the talent Gruden favors in time for its move to Las Vegas.

It’s chalky, but there simply is no reason to like the Raiders in this game. As we have seen already in Week 1, surprises do happen. But the Rams have the vastly superior roster and a coach who is much more in tune with today’s game.

All signs point to the Rams.

THE PICK: Rams -4.5

All right baby, let’s cash those tickets and enjoy the finales of Week 1 of this NFL season!