San Francisco 49ers (2-1) at New York Jets (2-1)
Remember how the Jets’ chance to make the playoffs was on the conservative offense, good defense, don’t make mistakes, easy schedule model? Yeah, that doesn’t work if you can’t play good defense and without Darrelle Revis, they’re going to have a hard time doing so many of the things they normally do on defense. They also don’t run the ball particularly well with mediocre back Shonn Greene now ceding carries to an unproven Bilal Powell and Mark Sanchez is as he’s always been.
Revis’ injury is huge. It can’t be understated. Revis’ presence as someone who can shut down one side of the field is huge because it allows the Jets to use all sorts of exotic blitz packages. They already rank just 27th in the league in pass rush efficiency so I don’t expect them to get very much pressure at all on Alex Smith behind an improved San Francisco offensive line. Calvin Pace looks pretty done, Aaron Maybin is proving last year was a fluke, and rookie Quinton Coples hasn’t done anything yet.
Smith has proven that if you give him time, he can move the chains through the air and with Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster playing significant roles in the secondary, he should be able to do that with some ease this week. He’ll be helped by what should be a strong game from Frank Gore as the Jets, normally a good run defense, rank just 26th against the run in this early season.
So San Francisco’s offense vs. the Jets’ defense, advantage San Francisco, Jets’ offense versus 49ers’ defense, well let’s just say it won’t be pretty. The Vikings moved the ball well on the 49ers’ defense last week, but the Vikings are an underrated bunch and San Francisco was in an obvious let down situation so that doesn’t surprise me that much. This is still the same defense that shut down the Packers and Lions in their first 2 games and the same defense that ranked 2nd in opponent’s scoring last year. It’s arguable that their defense is even better this year because they’re not as reliant on forcing turnovers.
Well coached teams normally rebound off of upset losses. There isn’t much data with the 49ers in that situation because they’ve only had one upset loss (two if you count the NFC Championship game last year), but the 49ers have covered easily in both instances. They’re all 4-0 ATS off a loss in the Harbaugh era. Expect that to continue into the future and to play a factor this week. The Jets’ offense doesn’t have much of a chance against a pissed off 49ers defense and the Revis injury destroys so much of what they do defensively.
There aren’t any true trends in play here, other than the Harbaugh off a loss one, but the 49ers should win this one with ease. On paper, the Jets don’t even come close to matching up with the 49ers without Revis. Four things do worry me. One, this is a 1 PM ET time start for the 49ers on the East Coast, which is normally a disadvantage. However, the 49ers were a perfect 4-0 in this situation last year and since they had a road game last week, they haven’t returned to San Francisco. Harbaugh has them practicing in Youngstown, Ohio in the East Coast time zone so there’s not going to be much of an issue of jetlag for them.
The 2nd reason is that the Jets are a home dog and home dogs are 13-6 ATS and 12-7 SU this year, though I think that’s probably a fluke and probably had something to do with the replacement refs. The third reason is just that the public is betting the 49ers heavily and the public is just 4-12 on heavy leans this year. The fourth reason is that the media has written the Jets off this week, so that’s provided a 2-1 team with plenty of bulletin board material. Also the general media is normally wrong, with goes right along with the public normally being wrong. Still, I like the 49ers. It’s not a huge play or anything, but they should be the right side.
Public lean: San Francisco (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 (sharps is defined as anyone with a 66.7% winning percentage or higher in Las Vegas Hilton): SF 11 NYJ 7
Update: Feeling a little bit more confident now that I know the sharps like San Francisco too. This one had me nervous because it felt like a trap line, but I’m sticking with the 2 units.
San Francisco 49ers 27 New York Jets 10
Pick against spread: San Francisco -4.5 (-110) 2 units