Houston Texans (4-0) at New York Jets (2-2)
Prior to the Jets’ 34-0 home loss to the 49ers last week, one NFL executive compared the Revis injury to any other team losing it’s starting quarterback and he was so right. Without Revis, they can’t do any of the things to normally make them good defensively and for a defensive minded team, that’s absolutely devastating. Without him, they can’t blitz as much as they normally do, which really hurts a team that already ranked 4th worst in the league in pass rush efficiency.
It also hurts their run defense some because they have to play their linebackers and safeties deeper in coverage, rather than stacking the box with Rex Ryan’s signature 46 scheme, as they often do. Normally a good run defense team, this team ranks 30th in the league against the run and don’t expect that to improve much, if at all, without Revis’ presence. And, of course, he hurts the overall pass defense. They currently rank 10th against the pass, but with no Revis, no pass rush, and poor safety play, expect that rank to fall in future weeks.
Offensively, they were already a mess. In his last 3 games, Sanchez is 44 of 101 for 547 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Even with a strong opener factored in, he still ranks 30th out of 32 eligible in quarterback rating. Rex Ryan won’t make the switch to Tim Tebow even though they acquired him for this very purpose and even though he can’t possibly he worse. At least he can run and revitalize this rushing attack some. Plus, as a passer, he actually has a better career QB rating than Mark Sanchez with a lower interception rate and he won the head-to-head matchup last year.
Speaking of that running game, they rank 30th in the league in yards per carry. Shonn Greene is so mediocre and 2nd year back Bilal Powell isn’t much better and isn’t getting enough carries to make any difference. The receiving corps isn’t doing Sanchez any favors either. Santonio Holmes was lost for the season last week from an already thin receiving corps, leaving Sanchez with 2nd round rookie Stephen Hill, 2011 5th round pick Jeremy Kerley, career journeyman Chaz Schilens, and tight end Dustin Keller, who has been limited to 1 catch in 1 game thanks to injury this year. His leading receiver in 2011, Keller might not play in this one either, after missing the last 3. Meanwhile, the offensive line isn’t doing any favors to either their run or pass attack, ranking 27th in pass block efficiency and grading out as ProFootballFocus’ 31st ranked run blocking group. There isn’t a single thing they do well without Revis.
They looked awful last week on the field last week. They turned the ball over 4 times and didn’t force a turnover and averaged just 2.9 yards per play, as opposed to 5.6 yards per play for their opponent, the 49ers. You could have given them 10 quarters and they wouldn’t have been able to score. They have 2 wins, but if you started the season over today, they’d probably finish with the worst record in the NFL.
All that being said, there are so many reasons to bet on the Jets this week. For one, look at the line movement. This line was -4 last week and now it’s -8.5. I know the Jets looked horrendous last week, but that’s one of the biggest non-injury related line movements I’ve ever seen (I know they lost Santonio Holmes, but it’s not like he was a star player or anything). Still, the public is pounding Houston and I love betting against the public, especially on huge leans, which is what this is.
On top of that, the Jets are getting completely shitted on in the media. This is a Monday Night Football game that no one is giving them a chance to even be competitive in. Not only is the mass media normally wrong and over-reactive, the Jets are in a similar situation to before week 1, when they shut up everyone who made fun of them for not scoring a touchdown with the 1st or 2nd team all preseason by dropping 48 on the Bills.
Going off of that, teams are 38-25 ATS off a home shutout since 1989, including 33-18 ATS as a dog and 11-5 ATS as a home dog. Speaking of home dogs, home dogs of 7+ are 98-78 ATS since 2002. They tend to be really undervalued. Also undervalued are teams coming off a loss of 28 or more. Teams in that situation are 82-55 ATS the following week as dogs. The Titans pulled an upset and the Panthers nearly pulled an upset in this situation in the last two weeks. Meanwhile, the Texans could be sleep walking through this one. The Jets are being made out to be a laughing stock and the Texans are 4-0, with a 3 game division lead, and have a tough contest with the Packers next week, just 6 days after this one, so they probably won’t be 100% focused.
However, I just can’t bring myself to bet on the Jets. It’s a small play and it would be zero unit if I did those, but the Jets are just too horrible. Even though it’s a complete overreaction line, the line is still reasonable. The “real” line, for anyone who knows that formula I keep mentioning, in this game is -7 in favor of Houston. That means we technically get 1.5 points of line value with the Jets, but that’s fully not taking into account how awful they are without Revis. Also, the Texans are probably the best team in the league. Teams this year are 2-2 as 10+ point favorites. The Texans are 2-0. As 7+ road favorites, teams are 1-2. The Texans are 1-0. As road favorites in general, teams are 9-14. The Texans are 1-0. I’m not betting against them.
Public lean: Houston (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: HOU 13 NYJ 10
Final Pick: Sharps are pretty split, as am I, but I can’t bet on the Jets.
Houston Texans 31 New York Jets 9
Pick against spread: Houston -8.5 (-110) 1 unit