There is now a logjam in the AFC East with the New England Patriots, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills all at 5-3. With Buffalo an underdog in Dallas this week, the winner of this contest between the Patriots and Jets has a chance to assume sole possession of first place.
The Patriots have now lost two straight games with Tom Brady at quarterback for the first time since 2006, and the Patriots have not lost three straight games with anyone at quarterback since 2002! Yet, the Jets have been installed as small (-2) favorites here, with the total set at 47½.
ODDS: OPEN: NY JETS -2 | CURRENT: NY JETS -1 | O/U: 47
1. Why New England will cover the spread: While it is true that the Jets have defended the New England offense probably better than any other team since Rex Ryan took over as the Jets’ coach, the Patriots are still 3-2 straight up in the regular season meetings during that time, and they were never the underdog in any of those games. The Patriots will cover this spread if they use being an underdog as a motivational tool, and the last thing any opposing team wants is for a dangerous New England offense to have extra motivation.
The Patriots will also win this game rather handily if they do not turn the ball over, as the Jets won the turnover battle all three times they beat the Patriots under Ryan, and in the two meetings where New England won the turnover battle, the Pats won by scores of 45-3 and 31-14.
2. Why New York will cover the spread: Besides forcing more turnovers once again, the Jets will also cover the spread if they can dominate Time of Possession and keep Brady on the sideline. That certainly seems feasible with the Jets rushing for 130.7 yards per game in the three games since center Nick Mangold came back (all victories) and the New England run defense allowing an ugly 4.8 yards per rush on the road.
3. Total Talk: While we look for Brady to make the most of his opportunities and lead the Patriots to the mild upset here, we do believe that the Jets will be successful in their goal of controlling the clock, provided that they do not go down by a couple of scores early. Given what should be a conservative game plan stressing the run, we don’t see that happening as long as the Jets’ backs do not fumble.
Therefore, we lean to the ‘under’ in this game, as the Jets should eat up clock and while we do think the Patriots will score, their points won’t be of the quick-strike variety vs. this Jets defense that finally resembled the defense of the past two years vs. the Bills last week.
4. Betting Trends for the game: The Patriots are 6-1 ATS the last seven games as underdogs with Tom Brady starting at quarterback, and Brady is 14-7 ATS as an underdog since 2003. In a couple of trends favoring the ‘over’ and thus clashing with our total selection, the ‘over’ is 19-7 in the last 26 Jets’ games overall as well as 16-5 in the last 21 New England divisional games.