New York Jets (6-7) at Carolina Panthers (9-4)
At first glance, the Panthers definitely seem like the right side. By all measures, the Panthers are a top-5 team and the Jets are probably a bottom-5 team. The Panthers’ +110 point differential is 4th in the NFL behind the Seahawks, Broncos, and Chiefs. The Jets’ -111 point differential is 3rd worst in the NFL ahead of Washington and Jacksonville. In terms of DVOA, the Panthers rank 3rd and the Jets rank 26th, including 27th in weighted DVOA.
In terms of rate of moving the chains, the Panthers move the chains at a 76.19% rate, as opposed to 66.57% for their opponents, a 9.62% differential that is actually the best in the NFL. The Jets, meanwhile, come in next to last, allowing opponents to move the chains at a 68.91% rate, while only moving them at a league worst 62.37% rate, a differential of -6.55%. Given that, this line is actually too small at 11. I have this line calculated at 19, which makes sense if the Panthers are a top level team and the Jets are a bottom level team.
The Jets won last week, but needing a blocked punt return touchdown to beat the Raiders at home by 10 is nothing to write home about. The Jets also have been very bad off of a win over the past 2 seasons, going 3-8 ATS in that situation since the start of the 2012 season. They haven’t handled success well. On top of that, Geno Smith has been horrible on the road this season. He hasn’t been good anywhere, part of why the Jets are moving the chains at a league worst rate and have a league worst 18 offensive touchdowns.
However, his road numbers are some of the worst you’ll ever see for a guy who kept his starting job all season. He’s completed 55.5% of his passes for an average of 6.65 yards per attempt, 4 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Even that’s skewed by a 3 touchdown, no interception performance in Atlanta. In his other 5 road games, he has 1 touchdown, and 12 interceptions. As a result, the Jets have lost those 5 games by an average of 21.4 points per game, while the win in Atlanta came by just 2. The Jets are a terrible team, especially on the road.
The Panthers have done a great job of blowing out bottom level teams since the start of the Ron Rivera/Cam Newton era. They haven’t always held their own in close games against top level teams like this year, but they’ve always destroyed bad teams, going 6-0 ATS as favorites of 6 or more since 2011, winning by an average of 20.2 points per game. The Panthers’ defense might be the best in the NFL, allowing 16 offensive touchdowns all season, with 4 of those coming in the Superdome last week. They should completely befuddle the Jets’ dysfunctional offense. I’d actually be shocked if the Jets got out of single digits offensively.
However, there are two reasons why this isn’t a bigger play. One, it’s possible that the Panthers overlook the Jets with a rematch against the Saints coming up next week. Two, the Jets, meanwhile, have no distractions here that would prevent them from covering this spread, as they host the lowly Browns next week. Teams are 49-32 ATS as double digit underdogs before being favorites since 2002, while non-divisional road dogs are 100-65 ATS before being non-divisional home favorites since 2008. The Panthers should still be the right side and get a blowout victory, but I’m not really confident or anything.
Carolina Panthers 24 New York Jets 6
Pick against spread: Carolina -11