Buffalo Bills (4-4) at New York Jets (5-3)
This line, 2 in favor of the Jets, suggests that the Bills are the slightly better team. I don’t think that’s true. The Jets rank 4th in rate of moving the chains differential, while the Bills rank all the way down at 24th. Given that about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal, the fact that this line came off of 3, where it was earlier this week, is very intriguing, considering the Jets are the better team. It also doesn’t help the Bills that they’re coming off of a win. Rex Ryan coached teams are just 1-12 straight up off of a win since the start of the 2013 season (5-8 ATS), as Jets fans should know well. Given his personality and the type of coach he is, that makes a lot of sense.
The Jets are also in the better spot, as they head to Houston next week, while the Bills have a much tougher test in New England. While the early line favors the Jets by 3 over the Texans, the Bills are expected to be 10 point underdogs. Teams are 108-82 ATS before being 3+ point road favorites since 2012, while teams are 34-52 ATS before being 10+ point road underdogs over that same time period. The Jets are not guaranteed to be 3+ point favorites next week and the Bills are not guaranteed to be 10+ point underdogs next week, but, either way, the logic holds. The Jets don’t have an upcoming distraction, while the Bills definitely do.
The one thing that worries me is injuries, as the Jets are more banged up than they’ve been all season, missing two key starters from their secondary, safety Calvin Pryor and cornerback Antonio Cromartie. Ryan Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, will play, but is expected to get left thumb surgery tomorrow after the game. It’s his non-throwing hand, so it shouldn’t affect his ability to throw, but it could be problematic when he tries to hand the ball off or protect the ball while being sacked. He could also be knocked out of the game, which would force the Jets to turn to Geno Smith, who is a definite downgrade. Fitzpatrick made it through the game fine last week against Jacksonville, but the Bills should be able to pressure him more than the Jaguars did. Center Nick Mangold does return this week from a neck injury, which should help their offensive line majorly, but he also returned last week, before getting knocked out again.
The Bills, meanwhile, have quarterback Tyrod Taylor, running back Karlos Williams, running back LeSean McCoy, and wide receiver Sammy Watkins all healthy for the 2nd straight week and are only missing wide receiver Percy Harvin and defensive tackle Kyle Williams. Williams’ absence hurts their defense, but this is his 3rd straight missed game and their offense was a lot better last week with the aforementioned quartet healthy. The Jets should still be able to win by at least a field goal in this spot though.
New York Jets 24 Buffalo Bills 17
Pick against the spread: NY Jets -2