It's an established veteran against a heralded rookie as Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions host Sam Darnold and the New York Jets on Monday Night Football at 7:10 p.m. ET. It's the first half of a double-header and marks the second-to-last game of Week 1. On the latest NFL odds board, the Lions are 6.5-point favorites. The over-under, or total points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 44.5, up from an open of 44. Before you lock in any Lions vs. Jets picks, you'll first want to see what the SportsLine Projection Model has to say. The model simulates every game 10,000 times to produce NFL picks -- and has been very accurate doing so. The computer went 48-34 on its top-rated picks last year and $100 bettors who followed it the past two seasons are up nearly $4,000.
Now, the model has analyzed all key components of Jets vs. Lions and crunched the numbers. We can tell you the model is leaning toward the under, but its more-confident pick is against the spread, saying one side hits in nearly 60 percent of simulations.
The model knows that one season after inking Stafford to one of the biggest contracts in NFL history, the Lions fired Jim Caldwell after guiding the team to a second-straight 9-7 season. Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was hired to revamp a Lions defense that ranked in the bottom 10 in most key statistics, including points and yards allowed.
Of course, the offense was a top-10 unit and may be even better in 2018. Stafford threw for 4,446 yards (tops in the NFL), 29 TDs and 10 INTs, and both of his starting WRs, Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, finished with more than 1,000 yards.
The team upgraded its run game by signing LeGarrette Blount and drafting Kerryon Johnson. Pairing them with Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah gives the Lions a slew of options at RB. They also retained DE Ezekiel Ansah and should have one of the best secondaries, led by CB Darius Slay and S Quandre Diggs.
But just because the Lions have plenty of firepower doesn't mean they'll cover on Monday Night Football. In fact, they Jets have improved so much after a terrific off-season that a playoff berth is a goal.
When Darnold, 21, takes the first snap of the Jets' season, he'll be the youngest starting QB since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. It will also mark the 11th consecutive season that a rookie has started in Week 1.
The Jets traded up to snag the USC product with the No. 3 overall pick. He'll take over an offense that ranked 28th last season but returns WR Robby Anderson (941 yards, seven TDs) and gets back electric wideout Quincy Enunwa, who missed all of 2017 with a neck injury.
The offense also added RB Isaiah Crowell, who in the last two seasons in Cleveland started all 32 games and gained 1,805 yards. He also caught 68 passes. The Jets also secured huge off-season additions on defense, highlighted by shutdown CB Trumaine Johnson, sure-tackling LB Avery Williamson and run-stuffing DT Henry Anderson.
Who wins Jets-Lions? And what side of the spread hits in nearly 60 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to get the pick from the advanced computer model that has returned followers more than $4,000.