New York Jets (4-2) at Oakland Raiders (3-3)
Both of these teams have exceeded expectations this season, after being among the worst teams in the league last season. However, the Jets have been significantly better, ranking 4th in rate of moving the chains differential, while Oakland comes in 17th. Ryan Fitzpatrick has bounced back well from a broken leg that ended his 2014 season and has continued his surprisingly solid play from 2013 and 2014 in Tennessee and Houston, giving the Jets arguably the best quarterback they’ve had since Chad Pennington. Wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker give him a pair of talented targets to throw to and running back Chris Ivory has broken out as a legitimate feature back. Meanwhile, a veteran offensive line has rolled back the clock a little bit and played very well.
Defensively, new head coach Todd Bowles has improved a defense that was already pretty solid to begin with, in large part due to big contributions from free agent acquisition cornerback Darrelle Revis and first round pick defensive end Leonard Williams. Last week, they led in the 4th quarter in New England, before eventually losing by a touchdown. Oakland is better on both sides of the ball this year too, thanks to rookie wide receiver (4th overall) Amari Cooper, free agent acquisition wide receiver Michael Crabtree, and much improved 2nd year quarterback Derek Carr on offense, and free agent acquisitions defensive tackle Dan Williams and outside linebacker Aldon Smith on defense. Williams and Smith lead a solid front 7 with holdovers defensive end Justin Tuck and outside linebacker Khalil Mack, both of whom have played better this year than last year.
Unfortunately, Tuck is now out for the year with injury, as of a few weeks ago. They were able to win in San Diego last week, in their first week without him, but their defense didn’t really play that well in that one, as they won on the strength of their offense. That’s going to be harder to do against the Jets, given that the Jets still rank 1st in rate of moving the chains differential after a trip to New England last week. The Raiders have barely had any injuries this season, so losing Tuck really hurts their defense. The Jets have some injuries of their own, as center Nick Mangold and safety Calvin Pryor are out for this one, which also definitely hurts, considering those players are both talented starters and considering they haven’t really had any injuries yet either. However, this line is still too low at 3.
The Jets are also in a better spot, as they’re in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 49-33 ATS as road favorites off a road loss since 2008, including 41-27 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 204-212 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.51 points per game, as opposed to 296-411 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 2.94 points per game. On top of that, they have an easier game than the Raiders do on deck, as they host the Jaguars, while the Raiders have to go to Pittsburgh. With the public all over the Jets, I don’t think there’s not quite enough here for me to put money on the Jets unless this line goes under a field goal, but they should be the right side.
New York Jets 19 Oakland Raiders 13
Pick against the spread: NY Jets -3