New York Jets (4-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6)
One of my favorite things to do when picking games is go against significant week-to-week line movements, as they tend to be overreactions to a single week, and this line had a very significant line movement, shifting from 4.5 in favor of the hometown Buccaneers last week on the early line to 2.5 in favor of the visiting Jets this week. Tampa Bay top wide receiver Mike Evans was suspended and Ryan Fitzpatrick will start this game at quarterback for the Buccaneers with Jameis Winston taking a few weeks off to rest his shoulder injury, but none of that justifies this 7 point line movement.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a good starting quarterback, but as far as backup quarterbacks go he’s among the better ones and he might not be that much of a downgrade from Winston considering how badly Winston had been playing in recent weeks, as he tried to play through his injured shoulder. Losing Evans hurts, but the Buccaneers have a very deep receiving corps and still have good receiving options this week with wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries, and Chris Godwin and tight ends Cameron Brate and OJ Howard. Against a relatively easy matchup at home, Fitzpatrick should be able to move the ball.
They’re also arguably as healthy as they’ve been on defense since the start of the season with top cornerback Brent Grimes returning from injury. He’s missed 3 games, linebacker Kwon Alexander has missed 4, and fellow linebacker Lavonte David has missed 2, but all three will be on the field this week. Prior to Winston’s injury, I thought this was an underrated team, as they started 2-2 and would have beaten New England if they had make makeable field goals, and now I think they are underrated once again, as the public has soured on them despite their defense getting healthier. Even with all of their injury issues, the Buccaneers still rank 19th in first down rate differential, as 3 of their 6 losses have come by a touchdown or less.
The Jets are well coached and give good effort, but they aren’t that talented of a team and don’t deserve to be favored on the road against anyone except the worst few teams in the league, which I don’t think the Buccaneers are. They were road favorites in Cleveland earlier this year and they would have lost that game if the Browns hadn’t consistently imploded in the red zone. They haven’t been nearly as good on the road in general this season, losing by more than a touchdown in Buffalo and Oakland, losing in Miami, and barely winning in Cleveland.
The Jets are 5-0 ATS at home and are coming off of a win against the Bills, but the Bills were an overrated team, so I’m not as impressed with that victory as the odds makers and the general public seem to be. I have this line calculated at -3 in favor of the Buccaneers, so we are getting a lot of line value at +2.5. I am hoping this line moves to +3 before game time, in which case I will make this a high confidence pick. The Buccaneers are worth a bet as long as we are getting points with them, but about 1 in 6 games are decided by a field goal exactly, so I want protection from the Jets winning by 3.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23 New York Jets 20 Upset Pick +120
Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay +2.5