Tanking clearly works in Major League Baseball. The Cubs and Astros both did it for a handful of years. Chicago ended a 108-year World Series championship drought in 2016 and is set up as a contender for at least the rest of this decade thanks to high draft picks through tanking. Houston is currently the favorite to win its first-ever World Series this October and looks equally stacked until at least 2020 for the same reason as the Cubs. Tanking largely works in the NBA, too, as I think in 2017-18 that we will start to see the rewards of the Philadelphia 76ers doing so the past three years.
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Does tanking work in the NFL? I would say it's not as clear cut as those other sports. First off, many believe it's nearly impossible to tank in pro football because there are only 16 regular-season games. Plus most careers are very short and contracts aren't guaranteed so guys are going to go all-out in every game. The Colts largely tanked in 2011 and it got them Andrew Luck so it was worth it. The Browns tanked last year … and didn't even land their franchise QB because there wasn't one in the 2016 draft.
This brings me to the 2017 New York Jets, a team I believe has the worst overall roster in football - yes, worse than the Browns or 49ers - and is 100 percent tanking this season no matter what the front office might say. Jets ownership overreacted to the team overachieving in 2015 with a 10-6 record under first-year coach Todd Bowles. That club was more like an 8-8 team at best but some guys had flukish season (now-departed Ryan Fitzpatrick for one). So the Jets largely kept the band together for 2016 and the team flopped to a 5-11 mark.
This offseason, just about every veteran was jettisoned, from top receiver Brandon Marshall to offensive line anchor Nick Mangold to leading tackler and defensive leader David Harris. The longest-tenured Jet now? Long snapper Tanner Purdum. I would bet everything I have in my bank account that Todd Bowles will not be the Jets' coach in 2018. He's the favorite at every sportsbook to be the first fired. Bowles might make it through the season because nothing is expected of this team, but he's a goner. The team can start fresh with a new coach. The good news is that the 2018 draft class looks loaded at the top with quarterbacks, so the Jets are picking a good time to finish with perhaps the worst record in franchise history: I'm staring at you, 0-16. OK, they probably luck into a win or two. The 1996 Jets went 1-15, and matching that is absolutely in play.
New York was 3-5 on the road last season (one game better than home), 3-5 against the spread and 3-5 "over/under." The Jets travel to three playoff teams in 2017: Oakland, Miami and New England. I'd call the home schedule a bit tougher. New York has only one trip to the West Coast. I project a 0-8 record. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 10 at Bills ( -6, 41): Two of the Jets' five wins last season were against the Bills, which was reason enough for Buffalo to fire Rex Ryan (actually the Week 17 Jets win was against interim coach Anthony Lynn). The Jets won in Buffalo 37-31 in Week 2 on a Thursday. Matt Forte had 30 carries for 100 yards and three scores. Fitzpatrick had a rare good game, throwing for 374 yards and a TD. Key betting trend: Jets 6-4 ATS in past 10 as at least a 6-point dog in series.
Sept. 17 at Raiders (-8.5): Jets open with back-to-back road games for the first time since 1992. New York can look to Oakland to see how one draft (2014 for Raiders) can change a franchise's future quickly. Jets lost last meeting 34-20 at Oakland in November 2015. One of the most memorable games in Jets history took place in Oakland -- the famous Heidi Game in 1968. This could be their last trip ever there. Key betting trend: Jets 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 at Oakland.
Oct. 8 at Browns (pick'em): Jets off a Week 4 game vs. Jacksonville. If New York is going to win a road game, maybe any game, this likely is the best chance. This also could well determine the No. 1 overall pick next year, although the Browns are well ahead of the Jets in their rebuild. The Jets' projected starting QB, Josh McCown, played the past two years for the Browns and was released this winter. Yes, the Jets are picking up Cleveland's trash. Key betting trend: Jets have seven pick'em games on record and are 5-2 ATS in them (last 2013).
Oct. 22 at Dolphins (-8.5): From 2012 to 2016, the visiting team won eight of 10 meetings in this series. This is the one road game where the Jets will have plenty of fans. New York lost in South Florida last year, 27-23, on a late kickoff return TD. The Jets hurt themselves with four personal foul penalties and two interceptions thrown by Fitzpatrick. Key betting trend: Jets 7-1 ATS all-time as at least a 7-point road dog in series (last 2014).
Nov. 12 at Bucs (-8): Jets with extra time to prepare as they host Buffalo on Thursday in Week 9. It's also ahead of New York's bye. Tampa is also proof that landing the right QB (Jameis Winston) can turn around a franchisee quickly. Key betting trend: Jets 7-3 ATS in past 10 before bye week (any location).
Dec. 10 at Broncos (-9): If Paxton Lynch is starting for Denver at QB in this one, it makes it more interesting in that the Jets passed on him in the first round last year and then decided to take mega-bust (so far) Christian Hackenberg in round 2. Key betting trend: Jets 2-4 ATS all-time at Broncos.
Dec. 17 at Saints (-6.5): The only dome game of the season for Gang Green. Back in January, the Jets hired Saints receivers coach John Morton as their offensive coordinator. Morton hasn't worked directly with quarterbacks in his career, which could be an issue on this team. But then Morton likely will only have the job for one year. Key betting trend: Jets 2-3-1 ATS at NFC South teams.
Dec. 31 at Patriots (TBA): As usual, no Week 17 lines. New York off what I think could be its lone home win of the season, Week 16 vs. the Chargers (Browns got their lone 2016 win in this exact same spot vs. the warm-weather, nothing to play for Bolts). I suppose the Jets could win this game - and ruin their potential shot at the No. 1 overall pick - if the Patriots have the top seed in the AFC wrapped up, which is quite possible, and they rest everyone. This will be the second New Year's Eve game in Jets history. The only other came in 2006, a 23-3 home win over the Raiders. Key betting trend: Jets 1-9 SU & 5-4-1 ATS in past 10 as at least 7-point road dog in series (they will be if Pats care at all).
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