The New York Jets and Detroit Lions had two of the most disappointing seasons in 2012. The Jets won just six games after reaching back-to-back AFC championship Games in the 2009 and 2010 seasons, while the Lions went 4-12, following their first playoff appearance in 12 years. On Friday night, both clubs start fresh as they face off in their first game of 2013.
New York, who has been one of the most talked about teams in the NFL over the past few years, will be surrounded by even more controversy when they play their first preseason game. The organization drafted Geno Smith in the second round of the draft, and he’ll compete with Mark Sanchez to be the starting quarterback. Sanchez will start, but the West Virginia product should see plenty of time on the field. If he impresses, Smith could surpass Sanchez on the depth chart in the early going. The Jets No.1 signal caller in the past four seasons was benched at the end of 2012, when he committed 27 turnovers and threw for just 13 touchdowns.
Part of the reason that Sanchez played so poorly was his lack of playmakers. New York didn’t do much to address the issue in the offseason, and is hoping a few guys step up in the exhibition games. With Shonn Greene gone, the Jets are looking for a reliable starting running back. Mike Goodson won’t player after his arrest and Joe McKnight is out with a head injury. Chris Ivory would be No.1 on the depth chart, but will be forced to sit out with a hamstring injury. That has forced Bilal Powell into the starting role for now. He’ll get a chance to prove himself after totaling just 458 yards in two NFL seasons.
On the defensive side, Darrelle Revis’ replacement will play in the first NFL game of his career. First-round pick Dee Milliner will get the start at corner. He probably won’t have to worry about stopping Calvin Johnson, though, since Antonio Cromartie will get that assignment. Johnson is playing for the first time since setting a record by recording 1,964 receiving yards, breaking the mark that was held by Jerry Rice.
The Lions are hoping to get a glimpse of one of the top offenses in the league. Detroit has the potential to put up a lot of points with Johnson at wide out and newly signed Reggie Bush at running back. The team showed how much confidence they have in Matthew Stafford by giving him a three-year, $53 million extension in July. Stafford is looking to bounce back after seeing his touchdown total drop by 21 between 2011 and 2012.
Detroit and New York are scheduled to get things started at 7:30 p.m. ET. The contest won’t be televised nationally, but can be seen locally on ABC in Detroit and CBS in New York. Viewers watch a live stream online by purchasing NFL Preseason Live.
Betting Odds: Detroit-3.5, 36
Prediction: Detroit 30, New York 10