Baltimore Ravens (3-3) at New York Jets (1-5)
No team has had a bigger drop-off from 2015 to 2016 than the New York Jets. A year removed from going 10-6 and finishing 2nd in first down percentage differential, the Jets are now 1-5 and rank dead last in that metric. They entered the season with one of the oldest rosters in the league, so some drop-off was to be expected, but they’ve been night and day different than last year. The obvious culprit is the offense, where veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been easily the worst quarterbacks in the NFL this season and has looked lost without injured wide receiver Eric Decker, who is out for the season. However, their defense has been just as bad. One year after finishing 1st in first down percentage allowed, they enter this game 28th in that metric, just one spot worse than their offense, which enters in 29th in first down percentage.
The Jets have made the switch at quarterback from Fitzpatrick to backup Geno Smith, who will be making his first start since 2014 this week. He’s unlikely to be better though, as he looked overmatched as a starter in his first 2 seasons in the league in 2013 and 2014 and didn’t look much better in relief of Fitzpatrick last week. In his career, he’s completed 57.9% of his passes for an average of 6.84 YPA, 27 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions. He also doesn’t have a lot of talent around him on either side of the ball; outside of the defensive line, this team doesn’t have a single above average position group.
Despite that, they’re actually favored at home in this matchup for some reason, as 2 point home favorites over the visiting Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are far from great, entering at 3-3 with all 6 games decided by a touchdown or less, and also enter this game very banged up, missing both starting outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, middle linebacker CJ Mosley, wide receiver Steve Smith, and right guard Marshal Yanda. Those are some of their best players. However, they still shouldn’t be getting points here on the road against an awful Jets team. Even as banged up as they are, they still have a significantly more talented roster than the Jets.
On top of that, the Ravens are in a great spot in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 132-100 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 104-68 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 222-236 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.87 points per game, as opposed to 322-448 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.03 points per game. In fact, the Ravens have actually played a game in New York more recently than the Jets did, losing a close one to the Giants last week. The Jets, meanwhile, have had to fly to the West Coast and back in the past week, with a crushing 28-3 defeat in Arizona on Monday Night Football in between. I don’t see them being able to bounce back on a short week. The Ravens are my Pick of the Week.
Baltimore Ravens 20 New York Jets 16 Upset Pick +105
Pick against the spread: Baltimore +2
Confidence: Pick of the Week