The New York Jets have had a rough offseason, dealing most notably with a daily circus surrounding the quarterback situation. After a much ballyhooed competition, rookie Geno Smith has been named the team's starting quarterback for Week 1, but only by default. Beleaguered incumbent Mark Sanchez played better throughout training camp and preseason, but he suffered a shoulder injury that is expected to leave him on the bench for the season opener.
The Jets also lost pivotal pieces of their defense in linebacker Bart Scott and cornerback Darrelle Revis, creating unfilled voids. It shouldn't be too surprising, then, that pundits are predicting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to roll over the Jets on Saturday. All 11 ESPN experts and nine CBS Sports experts picked the Bucs to beat the Jets in New Jersey.
Not that the Bucs are expected to be a juggernaut this season. Quarterback Josh Freeman still has yet to show consistency, and the loss of defensive end Michael Bennett may be bigger than many realize. The team has been able to avoid distracting drama, however, and has improved in other key areas, including the secondary, which will feature Revis at cornerback. The Bucs also have Doug Martin, one of the best young players in the NFL.
The game will likely turn on how well Smith is able to handle the pressure of his first career NFL regular season start. Based on his performance in preseason, the Jets could have rough time Sunday.