Patriots Favored Over Geno Smith, Jets Team in Transition, With Forgiving Schedule Making Up for Early-Season Injuries

Geno SmithIt may have taken a while, but the New England Patriots eventually snuck past the Buffalo Bills in their Week 1 opener, proving — for now at least — that their 10-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl are legit. On Thursday, the Patriots will look to pocket yet another winnable game early in their 2013 campaign when they butt heads with the New York Jets.

Opportunities like this one have Bill Belichick and Tom Brady right back among the elite on the NFL futures list. What they may have lacked in offseason buzz (positive buzz, that is), they seem to have made up in luck and fortunate scheduling.

The Patriots are 13-point favorites to tear into the Jets in Foxboro, but a date with a rookie quarterback in Week 2 isn’t the only reason they’re one of the more popular NFL betting options this season.

Not only does New England play two early games against less-than-formidable opponents in the Jets and Bills, but they naturally play them twice. The Dolphins, who round out the AFC East, aren’t all that imposing, either.

The result is a team that should face one of the easiest workloads in football. It’s no wonder the Patriots are being bandied about as a veteran club on the fast track to the postseason.

Wes Welker may be taking part in the Peyton Manning aerial assault in Denver, and Rob Gronkowski may be in street clothes on the sidelines, but if Julian Edelman and the unheralded corps of rookie receivers can mesh with their quarterback, the Patriots may once again find themselves playing football well into 2014 despite a rash of early-season injuries.

But just because New England is favored heavily against Gang Green doesn’t mean that a victory is inevitable.

Rookie quarterback Geno Smith powered his squad to a one-point victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his debut, and he did so with 300 total yards and a touchdown. That may not be enough to convince Jets fans to hand over the keys to the city, but it shows that this team may be resilient enough to beat the spread.

The Jets have some frightening 100-1 odds to win the Super Bowl this season, and many of those reasons haven’t changed since the lines were projected by oddsmakers in the first place.  But if Smith can overachieve behind center, this team may be worth keeping an eye on.