New York Jets (5-7) at Denver Broncos (3-9)
One of my favorites things to do as a bettor is go against significant week-to-week line movements, as they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play. The Broncos were 3 point favorites here at home against the Jets on the early line and now they are 1.5 point underdogs, a huge swing, considering about 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less. That line movement comes as a result of the Jets’ home upset victory over the Chiefs and the Broncos’ big road loss in Miami.
Given the way the Chiefs have been playing in recent weeks though, beating them on your homefield isn’t a huge accomplishment and the Broncos’ loss in Miami, while definitely concerning, was closer than the final score suggested and it came without stud cornerback Aqib Talib, who returns from his one-game suspension this week. Even without Talib last week, the Broncos had a good defensive showing, holding the Dolphins to 15 first downs and a 28.13% first down rate.
They are not the same defense they’ve been in recent years without Wade Phillips, but they still have a talented secondary and a strong pass rush and are clearly the better of the two defenses in this game. They rank 10th in first down rate allowed, allowing opponents to move the chains at just a 32.64% rate on the season. Their offense clearly holds them back, as they rank 30th in first down rate, moving the chains at a mere 29.61% rate. As a result, they rank 25th in first down rate differential at -3.03%. That being said, 25th isn’t horrible and it suggests they aren’t quite as bad as their record. On their current 8-game losing streak, they’ve actually won the first down rate battle 3 times, against the Giants, Bengals, and Chiefs.
They’ve had serious problems with the turnover margin, as they are -16 on the season, 2nd worst only to the Browns, but turnover margin tends to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. Their quarterback situation is so bad that they will probably continue throwing a lot of interceptions, but their talented defense only has 11 takeaways through 12 games, tied for 2nd fewest in the league, and that can definitely improve going forward. The Broncos have also faced a pretty tough schedule overall. This home game against the Jets is arguably their easiest game so far.
Given that, it doesn’t make sense that the Jets are favored. The Jets have had some success at home this season, beating the Dolphins, Jaguars, Bills, and Chiefs and playing close against the Falcons, Patriots, and Panthers, but they have not been a good road team. Their one road win came in Cleveland by 3 in a game the Browns could have easily won had they not continually squandered red zone opportunities. The Jets have losses in Tampa Bay and Miami, two comparable teams to the Broncos, and big losses in Buffalo and Oakland. On the season, they rank just one spot higher than the Broncos in first down rate differential, ranking 24th at -2.44%, despite an easier schedule. I still have this line calculated at -3, so we’re getting significant line value with the home underdog here.
The Jets are also in a terrible spot, as they are coming off of a huge home victory and play one of their toughest games of the season in New Orleans next week. They could easily look past the Broncos a little bit. Teams cover at just a 45% rate historically after a home upset victory and teams are 50-82 ATS since 2012 before being double digit underdogs, which the Jets likely will be next week against the Saints. The Broncos, meanwhile, turn around and have an easy game in Indianapolis, although it is on a short week on Thursday Night Football. This is just a medium confidence pick because I don’t trust any of the Broncos’ quarterbacks, but the Jets are in such a bad spot and this is too much line value to pass on.
Denver Broncos 19 New York Jets 16 Upset Pick +105
Pick against the spread: Denver +1.5