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AFC vs. NFC here as the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons do battle in the second week of the preseason. The Jets are coming off a loss to the Giants, while the Falcons fell to the Dolphins. Fortunately, we should get to see a little more of each teams’ starters here. Sam Darnold got a little bit of action for the Jets last week, while Matt Ryan didn’t suit up for the Falcons.
The Jets are coming off a disappointing season, but there’s still a lot of optimism surrounding the team heading into 2019. New York missed the playoffs yet again, which resulted in the firing of head coach Todd Bowles. To replace Bowles, the team brought in former Dolphins coach Adam Gase. They’re hoping Gase can reinvent their offense and help develop Sam Darnold.
The team made a huge splash in free agency, signing running back Le’Veon Bell and linebacker C.J. Mosley to massive contracts. There’s a lot of buzz about the Jets right now, but ultimately everything will come down to how well Darnold progresses. Darnold sure looked good in the Jets’ first preseason game, going 4/5 for 68 yards and a touchdown before giving way to Trevor Siemian. The Jets likely want Darnold to get as many reps as possible in Gase’s offense before the season starts, so I’d expect him to play quite a bit this preseason. Experience matters and the fact that Siemian will be playing a lot here helps as well.
Sam Darnold looking ready for the season 🔥
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) August 8, 2019
Siemian has started a lot of NFL games, and he’s way better than most of the no-names that we’ll see in exhibition action. Luke Falk also looked pretty good under center for New York last week. As for skill position guys, we should continue to see a lot of Trent Cannon and Elijah McGuire out of the backfield. I’ve always been high on McGuire’s talent, and he often shines during the preseason. These next couple of games will provide an interesting glimpse into what we can expect from the Jets in 2019.
Big Season For Falcons
While the Jets are very excited about the future with Sam Darnold, there’s an air of uncertainty hovering around the Falcons right now. Atlanta looked like a potential contender for years to come just a couple of seasons ago, when they made it all the way to the Super Bowl. The offense was by far the league’s best, but ever since offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan left, the team has declined sharply.
They missed the playoffs last year, although a lot of their struggles were due to having terrible injury luck. Still, Dan Quinn is officially on the hot seat heading into 2019, and if the Falcons don’t at least make the playoffs, he’ll likely be looking for a new job. The Falcons played in the Hall of Fame Game two weeks ago, so this is actually their third preseason game. Matt Ryan still hasn’t played yet, and he should make his debut here. Unfortunately, the prospects behind him don’t seem too promising. The top backup is veteran Matt Schaub, who was atrocious in the Hall of Fame Game. Kurt Benkert was playing decent in the Hall of Fame Game, before he went down with a season-ending injury.
They were forced to sign Matt Simms off the street, and the prospect of him and Schaub having to play extensively doesn’t sound too good. With all the injuries they suffered last year and the veteran nature of their team, we likely won’t see too many of their starters here. Ito Smith and Brian Hill will battle it out for most of the carries here. Their preseason defense didn’t look too good in their most recent game, giving up 34 points to the Dolphins.
The defense for the Falcons struggled last year and they drafted DB Jordan Miller in the 5th round to help out. WR Julio Jones had some nice things to say about him.
“His confidence is through the roof,” Falcons receiver Julio Jones said of Miller. “He’s one of those guys, you want to keep beating him because he’s going to keep coming back. I love his attitude. I love everything about him. The way he approaches the game, everything. It’s rare that you see in a younger guy.
“You know, they try to feel things out. But for him, since day one, he told me, he pulled me to the side one day and he was like, ‘I want to cover you. I want to get better.’ For him to even have that mentality, it’s impressive.”
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I’m rolling with the Jets here. Their quarterback situation is leaps and bounds ahead of Atlanta’s, for starters. Schaub and Simms will both likely be terrible, while Darnold and Siemian should see a lot of run for New York. Atlanta is clearly taking it very easy on their starters this preseason, while Gase is playing his a bit more. I’m also much more intrigued by New York’s young skill position guys.
Full-Game Total Pick
I’m also playing the over here, as both defenses struggled last week. The Jets gave up 31 points to the Giants while getting shredded by Alex Tanney and Daniel Jones, while the Falcons gave up 34 to the Dolphins. Gase’s offense looked really good last week, and Darnold should get at least a few series’ here. This one could be pretty high scoring.