The Jets (0-0) at the Detroit Lions (0-0) at Ford Field in Detroit, on Monday, Sept. 10 at 7:10 p.m. ET.
Fall-like, with overcast skies and temperatures in the upper 50s. But who cares? The Lions play in a dome. It'll be nice inside.
WHAT IT MEANS
Five years and five months from now, when the Jets are winning Super Bowl LVIII and millions of delirious Jets fans are camping out to welcome Sam Darnold down the Canyon of Heroes, you'll take a moment to think back to this Monday night game, where it all began. It's the dawn of the Darnold Era and the first time the Jets will go into a season with the real hope that they have their franchise quarterback for the first time since Joe Namath left town. The result of this game is almost secondary to how Darnold performs. It's all about him. It's all about hope.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Sam Darnold
You were expecting someone else? The youngest Opening Day starting quarterback since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, all eyes are on Darnold to see a couple of important things:
1. Was the promise he showed in the preseason real? He showed so much poise, so much intelligence and ability. But it was only the preseason.
2. Can he open things up and really carry his team? The Jets protected him with their calls in the summer. He rarely threw down field and didn't do too much. The Jets aren't good enough to win with a game-manager at quarterback. They'll win when Darnold is ready to be a star.
Darnold is the real deal, but don't expect this to be easy. Even the best rookie quarterbacks struggle along the way. I don't think Darnold's struggles will be serious, but we haven't really seen what he can do yet, and that's concerning. He's going to have to move the offense and throw downfield much more than he has in the summer, and he's going to have to do that against a defense that will blitz him and disguise coverages in ways he hasn't seen yet. He'll also have to score, because Matt Stafford and the Lions certainly have the weapons to make this something of a shootout. The problem there is Darnold isn't blessed with the greatest surrounding cast.
The defense should be OK, but doesn't have the pass rush to really get after Stafford. And on the Jets' offense, who is the player that really scares opposing defenses? They have a lot of Nos. 2 and 3 receivers, but no real No. 1. That describes their running backs and tight ends, too. And that offensive line -- well, if it's not better than it was this summer, Darnold is going to be on the run a lot. So the odds are stacked against him. He has ability. He has the tools. And he's going to flash a lot of potential. But in his first start, that just won't be enough.… Lions 30, Jets 16.
MY RECORD: 9-7
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO WIN: 2-4
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO LOSE: 7-3