So the NFL gave them a schedule that forces them to back up their braggadocio on the field: Baltimore, New England and Miami to open up.
The Jets open their half of the new Meadowlands Stadium Monday night (after the Giants initiate it against Carolina on Sunday) by taking on Baltimore, a team that should be every bit as good as they are. Or at least seems to be on paper. That's reflected in the line in which the Jets are favored by two-and-a-half -- or less than the three points that they'd get for home-field advantage.
The Ravens have some holes, notably at cornerback, where injuries have them still looking for bodies. But they also have an offense to go with the traditional defensive strength, especially now that they have Anquan Boldin, the best receiver the franchise has had in the 15 years it's been in Baltimore. And Joe Flacco in his third season is far more advanced than Mark Sanchez in his second.
So take those points and then some with a team that has a decent chance to be in Dallas next February.
|New York Jets (-2 1/2)|
The game is the sideshow here. The main show stars diva receivers: Ochocinco and T.O. for the Bengals; the seemingly temperamental Randy Moss for the Patriots. Although to be fair, Moss has been practicing hard and may not be a problem beyond his quest for a new contract..
Carson Palmer and his receivers (rookie Jordan Shipley may catch more balls than Mr. Popcorn) should cause problems for a Patriots secondary that's lost Leigh Bodden and is going with youngsters, including first-round pick Devin McCourty. (Ochocinco has been tweeting at Darius Butler, who also will be back there).
But it's hard to see the Patriots losing an opener at home.
|New England (-4 1/2)|
Speaking of young quarterbacks ...
Matt Ryan has had two years that have vaulted him into the NFL's elite. Pittsburgh, with Ben Roethlisberger suspended, is going with Dennis Dixon, the mobile but inexperienced QB. Still, it's hard to see the Steelers an underdog at home in an opener, especially with Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith back on defense.
As with the Pats, traditionally elite teams win home openers ....
|Atlanta (-2) at||
The Texans keep improving inch-by-inch.
They almost NEVER beat the Colts, who lead this series 15-1, winning a few times in the last seconds.
Why change now?
|Indianapolis (-2 1/2) at||
Like the Jets, the Packers are a popular pick. But at least they're shutting up about it.
This game pits Aaron Rodgers, a preseason MVP candidate against Kevin Kolb, who has to fill Donovan McNabb's spot. He's not ready yet.
|Green Bay (-3) at||
Can McNabb do much more with the Redskins than Jason Campbell? Granted, Mike Shanahan with Jim Haslett coaching the defense will make them a better team, but ...
|Dallas (-3 1/2) at||
|New York Giants (-7)|
|Chicago (-6 1/2)|
|Miami (-3) at||
|Tampa Bay (-3)|
|Jacksonville (-2 1/2)|
|Tennessee (-6 1/2)|
|San Francisco (-3) at||
|Arizona (-4) at||
|San Diego (-5) at||
*Indicates a team is predicted to win but not cover the spread
Last Season: 130-122-4 (spread). 163-93 (straight up)