The New York Jets will square off against the Detroit Lions on Friday night in what should be an exciting matchup of two teams in very similar positions heading into the 2013 season.
While both franchises underperformed last year—Detroit went 4-12 and New York went 6-10—the expectations are much higher for the Lions than they are for the Jets.
Detroit has an incredibly potent offensive unit (second in the NFL in passing yards and added running back Reggie Bush), but the focus will be on how the defensive upgrades come together.
New York is facing a major overhaul this year as several marquee players left during the offseason—stars like cornerback Darrelle Revis and tight end Dustin Keller—and a lackluster quarterback battle between Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith proves the Jets are in trouble.
Friday’s matchup will be a good gauge of where each team sits coming into this season.
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.
When: Friday, August 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Watch: Not nationally televised
Live Stream: Preseason Live
Listen: Online at NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line (via Covers)
Over/Under: 36.5; Spread: Detroit (-3)
Betting on preseason games is something even the most hardened gamblers try to avoid because of the sheer unpredictability, but the over/under is incredibly low. Not only should you take the over, but you should also take the high-powered Lions giving three points. It’s not a lock, but it’s the safest bet possible.
Injury Report (via ESPN)
Chris Ivory, RB, Questionable (hamstring)
Joe McKnight, RB, Questionable (off-field issues)
Kellen Winslow, TE, Questionable (knee)
Santonio Holmes, WR, Out (foot)
Ryan Broyles, WR, Questionable (knee)
Louis Delmas, S, Questionable (knee)
Jets Player to Watch: Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, QB
The biggest conversation during training camp so far has been the QB battle between incumbent starter Mark Sanchez and Jets’ second-round pick Geno Smith. With both players getting snaps with the first team in practice, how New York handles the position battle Friday is the focus in Week 1.
According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the franchise has the plan to play both Smith and Sanchez with the first team in the preseason game against the Lions.
Detroit’s defense is still trying to find its identity after struggling in 2012—14th against the pass and 16th against the run—and there may be no better chance for the two players battling for the starting job to shine than Friday.
Lions Player to Watch: Reggie Bush, RB
Detroit averaged 100.8 yards per game last season rushing the ball, but the team addressed its need by signing high-profile free agent Reggie Bush.
The Lions have an offense predicated on the passing attack, and with Bush posing a threat as both a pass-catcher and a RB that has evolved into the kind of player that can run between the tackles, how he plays in Week 1 of the preseason could be a sign of big numbers in 2013.
Add in the possible production of Bush to the dangerous abilities of QB Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson, and you have plenty suggest Detroit will be a serious contender in the NFC.
Prediction: Detroit 30, New York 10