New York Jets (5-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-7)
The Bills may be 3-7, but they’ve faced a tough schedule, which now gets easier. They will probably be favored in 5 of their remaining 6 games, including 3 at home, where they’ve been very good. This is the first of the games in which they will be favored at home. So far at home, they’ve beaten Carolina and Baltimore and almost beaten Kansas City, Cincinnati, and New England. That’s 4 likely playoff teams and a 5th who is a wild card contender and the defending Super Bowl champions. With the exception of maybe Baltimore, all of those teams are definitely better than these Jets.
The Bills are also getting healthier. EJ Manuel struggled in his first game back against Pittsburgh, completing 22 of 39 for 155 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception in a 23-10 loss that wasn’t as close as that would suggest. However, he’s another week healthier this week and he won’t be facing rookie destroyer Dick LeBeau, who is now 19-2 against rookie quarterbacks. CJ Spiller is getting healthier, as is their secondary, which was without Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd to start the season. There’s a good chance they finish at 8-8, despite starting 3-7, starting with a victory here.
The reason this isn’t a significant play on the Bills though is because they have a big trend working against them. Since 2002, home favorites of 1-3.5 are 16-39 ATS before a bye, including 2-15 ATS in a divisional matchup. This does make some sense. Small home favorites are generally comparable or slightly inferior to their opponent, which is the case here.
Teams in that dynamic might just assume a victory at home going into a bye and completely overlook their opponent, which is not something you should be doing with a comparable opponent. As a result, not only do they rarely cover the spread, but they also lose the game outright more than 2 out of 3 times dating back to 2002. Being in a divisional matchup makes it worse. That’s only enough to scare me off of making a big play on Buffalo though, not to change sides. They should still be the right side. I just wish they were home dogs, even if it was only by a point or two.
Buffalo Bills 20 New York Jets 17
Pick against spread: Buffalo -1