San Diego Chargers (5-9) at New York Jets (6-8)
Ugh. How am I supposed to pick between these two teams? The Chargers have been incredibly inconsistent and the Jets are a mediocre at best team who has just been eliminated from the playoff race making a controversial move to start a former 7th round pick who has never made an NFL start. There’s a lot of conflicting stuff on both sides.
For the Jets, they’ve beaten almost every mediocre or worse team they’ve played this season and the Chargers certainly qualify. They’re 0-6 against the likes of New England (twice), Seattle, Pittsburgh, Houston, and San Francisco, but 6-2 in their other 8 games, beating Buffalo, Indianapolis, Miami, Arizona, St. Louis, and Jacksonville. Their only two losses against mediocre or worse teams were last week in Tennessee in a 5 turnover shit show and in a rematch game against the Dolphins.
Speaking of that 5 turnover shit show, Greg McElroy should be an upgrade over Mark Sanchez, but do we really know? I normally hate picking games featuring quarterbacks making their first NFL start and this is no different. I have no idea what to expect from McElroy and furthermore, I have no idea what to expect from the rest of the team. What if they just completely quit now that their season is over and their quarterback has been benched?
For the Chargers, they’re actually in a great spot as dogs before being favorites when their opponent will next be dogs. The Jets go to Buffalo next week, while the Chargers just host the Raiders. Teams are 118-61 ATS in this spot since 2008. The Chargers are also typically a good December team. They’re 22-11 ATS in week 14 or later in the Philip Rivers era, including 9-2 ATS as dogs.
We’re also getting line value with them as they rank 22nd in net points per drive at -0.23, while the Jets rank 25th at -0.38. If you take the difference, multiply by 11 (the average amount of drives per game), and add 2.5 points for home field, you get that the Jets should be only favored by 1. However, DVOA only backs this up somewhat as the Chargers rank 23rd in regular and 24th in weighted, while the Jets rank 24th and 25th respectively and it’s not really enough to make any pick off that.
Besides, the Chargers have also fallen flat in a bunch of games where the trends favored them. The last time they covered as anything other than touchdown plus dogs was way back in week 9 and the time before that was way back in week 4, both instances against the crappy Chiefs. They somehow pulled off a huge upset in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, but that was when they were touchdown plus dogs and nothing at all was expected of them.
They followed that up by falling completely flat at home last week as favorites, even though it was December. Maybe here as December dogs, it’ll be different, but I don’t know. They already know their Head Coach and GM are getting fired at the end of the season. They reacted well to that news in their first game after the news broke, beating Pittsburgh, but then there was last week. What if they’ve completely quit?
They’re also 2-9 ATS as non-divisional dogs in the last 2 seasons and they are a West Coast team playing at 1 PM on the East Coast here, a situation teams generally don’t cover in. I’m going to just fade the heavy public underdog here and take the Jets and hope that the Chargers have quit and the Jets haven’t, that a quarterback change and bottoming out was good for them, but this would rank last in any confidence pools. If you actually make a play on this game, you have a problem.
Public lean: San Diego (80% range)
Sharps lean: SD 5 NYJ 2
Final thoughts: 7 people are crazy.
New York Jets 17 San Diego Chargers 13
Pick against spread: NY Jets -2.5 (-110) 1 unit