Oct 182012
 

New York Jets (3-3) at New England Patriots (3-3)

You gotta love the public overreaction with the Patriots. Last week, they were one of the best teams in the league. Now you get guys like Tony Dungy saying they’re “not very good” and an “average team” just because they lost by 1 point to a good Seattle team in Seattle. The Seahawks are awesome at home, going 15-4 ATS as home dogs since 2007 and now they might have their most talented team in that time period. There’s not really any shame losing to them there.

That loss did drop the Patriots to 12-10 in games where they take a lead of 10 or fewer into the 4th quarter, dating back to their loss to the Colts in the 2006 AFC Championship game, which is obviously concerning since the average team wins 70% of those games. However, they are 7-6 in games where they trail by 10 or fewer going into the 4th. It’s very possible that their struggles when entering the 4th with a slim lead are caused by play calling and a lack of urgency, not that they’ve lost their clutch edge. Overall, going 19-16 in games where the score is within 10 heading into the 4th quarter isn’t so bad.

They probably won’t have to worry about that this week, as is often the case. In their last 79 games, they’ve had a lead of more than 10 heading into the 4th quarter a whopping 41 times, winning them all, and this feels like another one of those games. They’ve had to listen to how “average” they are all week and how they’ve “lost it” when in actuality, they just lost to a good team that’s very good at home by 1 point. They’ve lost 3 games by a combined 4 points this year. This is still a really good team.

They’re in a very good spot this week. Tom Brady is 16-6 ATS off a loss as a favorite in his career and 26-12 ATS in general off a loss. As a result of their “surprising” loss last week, we’re actually getting the Patriots much cheaper than we would have last week as this week was -13 last week and it’s now -10.5 and not only that, but there’s equal action on both sides by the public. We’re not getting line value with this team if we use the traditional yards per play differential method as that produces a “real” line of New England -5, but there are some issues with that traditional method.

The most important one is that it underrates teams like the Patriots who don’t have a lot of big plays and allow a lot of big plays, but also that are very tough to get off the field and are good at getting their opponents’ off the field. That’s why I created a stat known as rate of sustaining drives, which essentially is the rate of total 1st and 10s to first downs, essentially, on any given set of downs, how often does a team get another one (or score). The Patriots do that on 85.5% of their sets of downs, while their opponents do it on just 72.4%, giving them a league leading differential of 13.1% in that category.

The Jets, meanwhile, rank 27th with a differential of -7.4%. If you take the difference of those two numbers and divide by 1.5 and add 3 for home field advantage, using this method, you get a line of New England -16.5. I’m not saying this is a better method than the traditional one or that’s it’s perfect, but it can be used to find teams that the traditional method under or overrates. At New England -10, we don’t seem to be getting any real line value either way. If there is any either way, it’s in favor of New England because -5 and -16.5 average out to be about -11.5.

Meanwhile, while the Patriots are underrated and in a good spot off of last week’s game, the Jets are in the opposite situation. Dogs of 10+ are 4-7 ATS off a wins of 21+ since 1989. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it seems to be for a good reason, which is that the win the week before appears to be a fluke and typically that ends up being an accurate assessment.

The Jets were able to win last week because they were able to run the ball effectively, play solid defense, and win the turnover battle, three things I think they’ll be unable to do this week. Before last week, they weren’t able to run nearly as well as they did against a banged up Colts defense. The 252 yards they rushed for last week account for 38% of the rushing yards they’ve had all season and they still rank 23rd in the league in yards per carry. Besides, the Patriots rank 4th in the league, allowing 3.4 YPC on the ground. Even Seattle, normally a run heavy team, didn’t really even try to run the ball on them last week and they weren’t effective when they attempted it.

The Patriots also 1st in the league in points per game so the Jets’ chances of stopping them are pretty slim and thus their ability to run a conservative game plan like last week (44 runs to 19 passes) is pretty limited, bad news since that’s how their team is most efficient. I also don’t think they’ll win the turnover battle like last week, when they won it 4 to 0. Not only are turnover differentials incredibly inconsistent on a week to week basis, they’re playing a Patriots team that is tied for the league lead at +10 and is one of the few teams to be able to consistently win the turnover battle on a week to week basis. Since Bill Belichick took over in 2000, they’ve won the turnover battle 121 times and lost it 67 times.

If the Jets are going to have any chance to win this game, it’ll be up to Mark Sanchez to exploit the Patriots’ weakness, their secondary, like Russell Wilson did last week. However, Sanchez couldn’t even exploit Indianapolis’ secondary last week, averaging 4.6 YPA against a team that is allowing 7.6 YPA on the season. He’s completing just 49.7% of his passes for 6.4 YPA and 8 touchdowns to 6 interceptions on the season, all worse than Russell Wilson, and this is a road game for him, not a home game like it was for Wilson.

The Patriots’ secondary should also be improved this week, not just because it’s a bounce back game at home, but because they will get back Patrick Chung, who left last week with an injury. Donta Hightower is also expected back this week after missing the last 2 games. His absence has forced Rob Ninkovich to play more linebacker, which has turned their 2nd best pass rusher from a pure defensive end to someone who only rushes the passer in obvious passing situations. I hate laying this many points with any team, but this one feels like a blowout for many reasons.

Public lean: New England (new thing I’m adding, siding with the odds makers on bets is not a bad thing to do since they make so much money, so I’m listing this here to allow readers to “fade” the public, if they so choose, in this example, the odds makers win if NY Jets covers)

Sharps lean: NE 12 NYJ 6

Final update: No change.

New England Patriots 34 New York Jets 13

Pick against spread: New England -10.5 (-110) 2 units

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