Arizona Cardinals (4-7) at New York Jets (4-7)
I’ve started using net points per drive to compute real line. It makes sense. Net points per drive measures how much you outscore opponents by on a given drive and if you take the difference between the two team’s net points per drive and you multiply that by the average number of drives per game, 11, and add 3 points either way for home field, you can get a pretty good estimate of what the line should look like.
There are other things to consider, like strength of schedule, which is why I like to look at the DVOAs, which are net points per drive based, but take into account strength of schedule, among other things. Trends and other human element type things are also very important, but net points per drive is a good starting point.
The Jets rank 27th in the league in net points per drive at -0.64, while the Cardinals rank 21st at -0.19. If you take the difference and multiply by 11 and add 3 points to the Jets side for home field advantage, you get that Arizona should be favored here by a point. However, here’s where you need to take other stuff into account. Arizona is 22nd in DVOA, while the Jets are 26th, which closes the gap some.
The Cardinals have also lost 7 straight and are on their 3rd and worst quarterback of the season. They were actually decent when Kevin Kolb was their quarterback, but then John Skelton came in when he got hurt and he was terrible, getting benched for 6th round rookie Ryan Lindley, who is one of the worst quarterbacks I’ve ever seen at the NFL level, even worse than Skelton.
At San Diego State, he never completed more than 57% of his passes in a season against weak competition. He’s got the tools, but I don’t know how he ever could have been considered to potentially be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Against Atlanta after taking over for Skelton, he went 9 of 20 for 64 yards and then against St. Louis, he went 31 of 52 for 312 yards, but with 4 interceptions to no touchdowns and his interceptions were horrible, if you watch the replays, with two going for touchdowns.
The Cardinals also suffered a serious injury on the offensive line, losing center Lyle Sendlein, who was really their only competent offensive lineman. About Sendlein before the season, left guard Daryn Colledge said, “he would be the worst one [to lose] probably on the whole football team. He is the key cog, especially for this offensive line. He is the captain and he is our guy,” before saying the “wheels might come off” without him.
I think that’s a pretty accurate assessment and if you can believe it, this offensive line can actually get worse. Right now, they have the league’s worst pass blocking efficiency rating and rank dead last in run blocking. The only reason they aren’t starting 3 players who rank dead last at their respective positions on ProFootballFocus is because they benched left tackle D’Anthony Baptiste for 7th round rookie Nate Potter, who hasn’t been much better. Potter starting makes 2 rookies starting for them, as right tackle Bobby Massie is a 4th round rookie. And Sendlein’s loss makes them worse.
The Cardinals are also in a bad spot trends wise. They are non-conference road dogs before being divisional road dogs. Teams are a ridiculous 11-30 ATS in this spot since 2002. They go to Seattle next week. They also have to travel across the country for a 1 PM ET start on the East Coast as a West Coast team, which is normally very tough for a team, though the Cardinals have strangely had success doing this over the past couple years, upsetting the Patriots and Eagles in major upset fashion and almost doing the same to the Ravens.
The Jets, meanwhile, are actually in a good spot after being blown out by the Patriots last week. They’ve had 10 days to rest and teams are 117-97 ATS on a Sunday after a Thursday Night game since 1989. Teams tend to do well after losses by 30 or more, going 83-55 ATS in this spot since 2002, including 27-18 ATS when the previous game was divisional. Teams tend to be undervalued, overlooked, and embarrassed coming off a blowout loss and if history is any indication, the Jets will definitely play well in this spot.
The Jets always seem to be at their best when they’re at their lowest point, especially this season. Remember when neither their 1st nor 2nd team offense scored a touchdown all preseason and they were the laughing stock of the football world and then week 1 they crushed the Bills? Remember when they got shut out by the 49ers and then covered in 3 straight weeks? Remember when they were 3-6, having lost 2 straight by 21+ and they had the whole “someone in the locker room called Tim Tebow terrible” controversy, and then they upset the Rams in St. Louis?
This is a similar situation. All they’ve heard all week is about how much they suck and about how Mark Sanchez ran into a butt. I think they bounce back in a similar fashion. It’s not a big play on the Jets, but they should be the right side. I just really hate taking the Jets as 5 point favorites over anyone. This is dangerously close to being six and six territory (teams who finished 6-10 or worse are 23-64 ATS since 2002 as 6 point favorites or more). I don’t understand how anyone can make a big play on this game. It’s either Jets -5 or Ryan Lindley? PUKE.
Public lean: NY Jets (60% range)
Sharps lean: NYJ 12 ARZ 4
Final update: No change. The Jets are at -6 in some places in which case I would take the Cardinals for a unit on principle because of the six and six rule, but I can’t bet heavily on either side. That would be nuts.
New York Jets 16 Arizona Cardinals 9
Pick against spread: NY Jets -4.5 (-110) 1 unit