AP Sports

Jets and Aaron Rodgers are driving a lot of betting action at sportsbooks

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The arrival of Aaron Rodgers and the HBO show “Hard Knocks” made the New York Jets the talk of the NFL preseason, and they are a hot topic among bettors as well.

At BetMGM, which is available in 25 states and Washington D.C., the Jets have had the most money bet among AFC teams at 16.9%, and they have had the most tickets in the AFC East at 28.8%.

Caesars Entertainment, which also is available in half the states and D.C., lists the Jets as its biggest financial liability. They trail only the Cincinnati Bengals in number of betting tickets written on them to win the Super Bowl and are behind only the Philadelphia Eagles on the amount wagered.

The Jets holding up the Lombardi Trophy doesn’t carry quite the same liability at BetMGM, which moved its Super Bowl odds on New York from 25-1 to 18-1 before the Rodgers trade was finalized. BetMGM sports trader Seamus Magee said the betting especially picked up on the Jets after “Hard Knocks” began to air and Rodgers led a touchdown drive in a preseason game against the New York Giants last Saturday.

Just because there is a lot of action on the Jets doesn’t mean everyone putting down money thinks they’re going to win the Super Bowl. They’ve had the third-most wagers to hit the under on total wins (9 1/2) at BetMGM as well as the most bets and money to miss the playoffs.

Magee, however, noted most of the recent money has favored the Jets, who have the NFL’s longest active postseason drought at 12 seasons.

“New York teams, we tend to take a good deal of money,” Magee said. “The odds to make the playoffs, that’s pretty much a 50-50 split right now. People seem to think there might be some decent value on the Jets. It’s a pretty loaded AFC, so the schedule there does no favors. So there is some skepticism there, but I think right now it’s trending toward an optimistic interest rate.”

Most of the skepticism, Magee said, came from professional bettors who aren’t sold the Jets will live up to the hype. The Gold Sheet’s Bruce Marshall is one pro, however, who gives New York the benefit of the doubt.

He said the Jets situation reminds him of when Peyton Manning went to Denver in 2012 and helped lead the Broncos to two Super Bowl appearances in four years and a championship.

“Manning there provided an uplift to the whole thing, and I have a feeling Rodgers might be able to do the same,” Marshall said. “The Jets were hanging around last year until late. (Quarterback) goes from a position of weakness to a position of potential strength for them. I have a feeling they might make some noise this year. A transcendent quarterback like that can make that sort of an impact.”

The Jets were 7-4 last season before losing their final six games.

STEELERS A POPULAR PICK

The Pittsburgh Steelers represent BetMGM’s largest liability in the AFC, which is mildly surprising considering they’re coming off a 9-8 season and play in a conference that includes the Kansas City Chiefs, Bengals and Buffalo Bills.

But quarterback Kenny Pickett enters his second year, and some believe he will take a noticeable leap for a team that went 7-2 over the last half of the season.

“And, you know, it’s a Mike Tomlin-coached team,” Magee said. “This guy has never finished below .500. The Steelers are always going to get a lot of money. They’re a big national team and they take money every year.”

On the NFC side, the Detroit Lions — thanks largely to a load of wagering in Michigan — is the sportsbook’s top liability.

OPINIONS SPLIT ON COWBOYS

The Dallas Cowboys went 12-5 last season and whether they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders is the question.

“I think the defense is going to be very good this year,” Magee said. “Whether you like Dak Prescott or not, they’re going to win games. I think they’re going to make the playoffs. Will they go to the Super Bowl? I don’t know. I don’t think they’re better than San Francisco. I don’t think they’re better than Philadelphia. Frankly, I’m pretty high on the Saints. I think the Saints could actually be a sleeper team in that conference.”

Marshall isn’t a believer in Prescott’s ability to produce in big games, noting Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones showed his hand with the Cowboys’ recent acquisition of backup quarterback Trey Lance.

“I think Jerry has overrated his roster,” Marshall said. “But I think even Jerry saw this year as Dak’s make or break (season) because if they stumble again and don’t win in the playoffs, I think he’s had it and would give Trey Lance a look. So I’m skeptical on Prescott and skeptical on Dallas.”

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