Two teams who had top four picks in the 2022 NFL Draft and still have long histories of imbecilic incompetence are getting loads of love for their offseasons. If you listen to the way some media personalities present it, the Detroit Lions and New York Jets have a chance to not send their fans into a tailspin a month into next season.
By many accounts, including our own, the Jets had an outstanding draft. They landed three blue chip prospects in the first round with selections of cornerback Sauce Gardner, wide receiver Garret Wilson, and edge rusher Jermaine Johnson. I saw at least one NFL expert project Iowa State running back Breece Hall in the first round, and while that didn’t happen, New York traded up and nabbed him, too.
I’m as confused as any football fan about Zach Wilson. He went from getting Brett Favre comparisons before the draft to the forgotten man of the 2021 QB class this offseason. There is genuine optimism for a guy who only had nine touchdowns because he had six pass catchers get tackled at the 1-yard line. It’s basically a silly stat that lets Gang Green fans sleep better at night, which is common among teams grasping for any semblance of a silver lining.
For Detroit, their security blanket of a stat was Dan Campbell’s record against the spread (11-6) during the coach’s rookie season.
The NFC North cellar dweller got a shout out in Peter King’s first round of power rankings Monday, which slotted them in at No. 20. That take isn’t internet shattering, but it is higher than most expert’s projections. The longtime NFL writer pointed to the team’s competitiveness as reason for promise. However, covers don’t count as wins, and as someone who rooted for a college football team that did nothing but cover spreads and lose close games, that says more about finding ways to gag opportunities than valiant efforts in defeat.
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There also was a surprising amount of Detroit talk between Warren Sharp and Bill Simmons on The Ringer founder’s podcast Friday, saying the schedule favors the Lions due to a lack of short rest weeks. Sharp, a gambling expert by trade and last name, spoke at length about the NFL’s new trend of not giving a fuck about shortened weeks due to its obsession with over saturating football fans with games on Thursdays, Black Friday, Christmas, etc. (The NFL might want to expend that energy in other areas, but I’ll let Deadspin senior writer Carron Phillips fill you in on that.)
As commenter ATL Lion noted in the comment section of the Pride of Detroit’s story about all this hype, if you follow a prognosticator close enough during the summer, they’ll sprinkle in little bits of optimism — with substantial caveats — about a ton of teams that have no business looking on the bright so they can tout their genius if said squad surprises.
I personally hate hedging takes, so allow me to say both of these teams are going to be resplendent trash yet again, and the only real debate is which fanbase is more delusional. Picking a starting QB between Jared Goff and Wilson is like asking someone if they’d rather be killed via gunshot or murdered with a machete.
I prefer a quick death over losing a pound of flesh each week, which is why I’d rather root for the Jets and be done with football by the time the NBA kicks off. They start the season by playing every team from the AFC North, followed by Miami, a visit to Green Bay, a trip to Denver, and then New England, Buffalo, a bye week, and a rematch with the Patriots in Foxborough. Depending on the (hopefully inevitable) Deshaun Watson suspension, Kenny Pickett’s development, and how Miami looks under new coach Mike McDaniel, New York may not be favored in a game until Week 12’s matchup against the Bears.
The Lions begin the year with contests against Jalen Hurts, Carson Wentz, Kirk Cousins, whoever ends up starting at quarterback for Seattle between Drew Lock and Geno Smith, and Mac Jones. What’s more cruel: Goff and Campbell stringing along Detroit fans for a third of the season, or Wilson immediately dousing the enthusiasm of Jets’ fans with piss poor performances?
The logical choice for the fanbase with the most unrealistic expectations is Detroit, but I can’t pick them because they dream about just making the playoffs. It’s the Jets, and will always and forever be the Jets.