New England Patriots (12-2) at New York Jets (9-5)
The Patriots are favored by 3.5 points in New York against the Jets this week. That doesn’t make sense, as it suggests the Patriots would be about 9 or 9.5 point favorites if this game were played in New England. The Patriots were favored by 9 points in New England when these two met there earlier this season, but the line didn’t make sense then either and I took the Jets for a big play. The Jets covered and, though the Patriots ended up winning by a touchdown, the Jets were covering for most of the game and matched the Patriots much more evenly than the line suggested, actually winning the rate of moving the chains differential battle 77.14% to 76.67%.
On the season, they’re also much more evenly matched than this line suggests. The Patriots are one of the best teams in the NFL, ranking 3rd in rate of moving the chains differential, but the Jets are right behind them in 6th and have been playing great football since getting center Nick Mangold and cornerback Darrelle Revis both back from injury, as those are two of their best players. It might not have seemed that way last week, when they only won by a field goal in Dallas, but that was on the road, which is always significantly tougher than at home, and they could have won by significantly more if they didn’t miss an extra point, a makeable field goal, and get stuffed on 4th and inches near the goal line early in the game. They won the rate of moving the chains battle 68.75% to 57.14%.
The Patriots are also much more banged up this time around, while the Jets have remained one of the healthiest teams in the league all season. Running backs Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount have since been lost for the season for the Patriots, while wide receiver Julian Edelman, tight end Rob Gronkowski, guard Josh Kline, middle linebacker Dont’a Hightower, wide receiver Danny Amendola, and safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung are all dealing with injuries.
In an ordinary week, the majority of them would play, but this game isn’t super important to the Patriots, as they need to win just one of their next two games (against the Jets and Dolphins) or have the Bengals lose in Denver, where they are underdogs this week, to clinch the #1 seed in the AFC. For the Jets, this is do or die as they basically need to win out to even make the playoffs. I’m going to take the 3.5 points at home with the slightly inferior, but healthier team in a game that means more to them, especially since the public is all over the Patriots. I love fading the public whenever it makes sense and it does here.
New York Jets 20 New England Patriots 19 Upset Pick +150
Pick against the spread: NY Jets +3.5