New York Jets (3-6) at St. Louis Rams (3-5)
Someone check me for a concussion because I really like the Jets this week. The Jets are one of two teams I have not picked to cover once this year, along with the Bengals. Yes, their fans hate me. It may seem weird that this is the week I’m going with the Jets because they seem to be at their lowest point, given all that’s happened in the last week.
However, the Jets always seem to be at their best when they’re at their lowest point. 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? With the team now at 3-6, with all their locker room dirty laundry being aired to the media over the past week, coming off a two straight losses of 21 or more, the Jets are now at their lowest point.
Speaking off 2 straight losses of 21 or more, teams are 35-16 ATS since 2002 coming off back-to-back losses of 21 or more. Teams tend to be undervalued, overlooked, embarrassing, and playing for pride in that spot. The Jets are definitely embarrassed and playing for pride. They’re also undervalued and likely to be overlooked. This line has shifted from St. Louis -2 to -3.5 and the 3-5 Rams are now favorites of more than a field goal.
This is an unfamiliar situation for the Rams. How unfamiliar? Well, this is the first time they’ve been favored all year. Teams are 46-67 ATS as favorites of more than 3 after being dogs in 4 straight. This is also just the 8th time they’ve been favored since the start of the 2009 season. Since 2002, they are just 24-38 ATS as favorites.
Meanwhile, since 1989, home favorites are 97-162 ATS before being dogs in 3+ straight. The Rams probably won’t be in this unfamiliar situation again until at least 4 weeks from now when they host Minnesota, if at all the rest of the season. 2 of their next 3 are on the road and their only home game is against San Francisco, when they almost definitely won’t be favored. Meanwhile, they’re simply not good enough to be road favorites anywhere, even in Buffalo week 14.
All of these trends are basically saying that bad teams don’t do well as favorites. Well, this one also says that. Since 2008, teams are 57-81 ATS as favorites off a loss as dogs before being dogs. For good teams, a game like this would represent a breather game, a chance to get an “easy” win after a loss to a tough opponent before facing another tough opponent. For bad teams, it represents a game they probably shouldn’t be favored in. Over that time period, when the game they’re favored in is non-divisional and the other two are divisional (@ San Francisco, vs. NY Jets, @ Arizona), teams are 6-11 ATS. If we go back to 1989 to get a bigger sample size, that trend becomes 23-39 ATS.
I know the Rams didn’t actually lose in San Francisco last week, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Dogs before and after being favorites are 83-118 ATS regardless of the outcome of the first game (26-37 ATS off a win). That tie does make things a little tougher, but not that tough. Teams are 3-7 ATS off a tie and regardless of the outcome of last week’s game, the Rams would be in a bad spot this week.
I already mentioned the sandwich/breather game trend, but here are some more. Teams are 45-66 ATS off a win as double digit dogs, 23-36 ATS off a win as divisional double digit dogs. Favorites after a loss of 1-3 as 10+ dogs are 6-15 ATS since 1989. Home favorites are 10-24 ATS off a road loss in overtime, including 6-17 ATS when the previous overtime loss was as dogs.
If the Rams had won last week in overtime, they’d be in a bad spot. If the Rams had lost last week in overtime, they’d be in a bad spot. And having tied in overtime last week, well they’re still in a bad spot, albeit one with a really small sample size. After playing 75 minutes and taking the 49ers to the brink, the Rams are probably not going to focused for the lowly Jets this week, especially with another divisional road game next on the schedule.
The Jets are also in one more good spot as road dogs off of a road loss. Teams are 80-47 ATS in this spot since 2008. Finally, the Rams are a pretty strong public lean and the public always loses in the long run. There are a few reasons why this isn’t a 5-unit co-pick of the week along with Pittsburgh. For one, the NFC is 25-16 against the AFC this year. Two, we’re actually getting line value with the Rams as the yards per play differential method says they should be 6.5 point favorites and the rate of sustaining drives differential method says they should be 4 point favorites and that’s not taking into account that the Rams now have Danny Amendola and Rodger Saffold healthy, two things that really helped against San Francisco. They’re now 5-1 ATS with Amendola this year and 0-3 ATS without him.
Three, there’s always a chance the Jets are looking forward to a Thanksgiving game with the Patriots immediately after this one, but they simply can’t afford to lose another game if they want to maintain any hope of making the playoffs and I can’t imagine them looking past the Rams having been embarrassed in their last 2 games. They’re playing for pride and always do well at their lowest point, while the Rams are in an unfamiliar spot as favorites could easily overlook this lowly non-conference opponent off a grueling game against San Francisco with another divisional matchup on schedule next. It’s a 4-unit pick.
Public lean: NY Jets (70% range)
Sharps lean: STL 17 NYJ 3
Final update: Sharps do have this at -3, but that probably isn’t the reason why there’s a huge sharps lean on the Rams. I’m going to disagree with them though.
New York Jets 20 St. Louis Rams 16 Upset Pick +165
Pick against spread: NY Jets +3.5 (-110) 4 units