Los Angeles Chargers (7-7) at New York Jets (5-9)
The Chargers lost last week 30-13 in Kansas City, but the game was closer than the final score suggested. The Chargers actually led 13-10 in the 3rd quarter before turning the ball over on 4 straight possessions. Turnover margins tend to be unpredictable on a week-to-week basis though (teams that have a -4 turnover margin, on average, have a turnover margin of +0.0 the following week), so I don’t expect the Chargers’ turnover problems to continue into this week. They are still +7 in turnover margin on the season anyway and they are facing a Jets team that is starting backup quarterback Bryce Petty, who has thrown at least one interception in each of his first 5 career starts.
This line dropped from 10 on the early line last week to 6.5 this week, crossing two key numbers (7 and 10), which is a huge overreaction to the Chargers’ loss in Kansas City. I am still very high on the Chargers, who still have a +56 point differential on the season, despite the 17-point loss last week. If you exclude their 2 games against the Chiefs, who seem to have their number and who won the turnover battle by 7 in their 2 games, that point differential is +87. They are just 7-7, but their other 5 losses have come by a combined 18 points, with three of them coming against the Eagles, Patriots, and Jaguars, who are among the best teams in the NFL.
In first down rate differential, they are even better, as they rank 4th in the NFL at +4.80%, despite the middling record. Making that even more impressive is the fact that they have next to no homefield advantage in Los Angeles. With a reasonable homefield advantage and better luck in close games, they could easily be 9-5 and in the driver’s seat in the AFC West, despite the two losses to the Chiefs. Outside of Los Angeles, the Chargers have been a great team against the spread this season, going 5-2 ATS, with one of their non-covers coming in an 8-point loss in New England as 7.5-point underdogs. That actually dates back a few years, as the Chargers had next to no homefield advantage in their final years in San Diego. Since 2015, they are 15-8 ATS on the road.
The Jets have had success at home this season, going 6-1 ATS, with the one non-cover coming in a 8-point loss as 6-point underdogs against the Panthers, a game in which the Jets led until the Panthers had two return touchdowns in the fourth quarter. This is where I think their home success runs out. Not only are the Chargers a great road team, but this isn’t the same team without quarterback Josh McCown, who is out for the season with a broken hand. McCown was having one of the best seasons of his career prior to going down and was the main reason this team was surprisingly winning some games, despite having one of the weakest rosters in the NFL.
Petty, meanwhile, is arguably the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. Outside of the Browns and maybe the Colts, the Jets are the worst team in the league right now with Petty under center. I still have this line at -10, so I’ll happily take the Chargers at -6.5, especially since the Jets are in a very tough spot with a game in New England on deck. Underdogs of 6+ are 39-60 ATS since 2014 before being underdogs of 6+ again, as it’s very tough for inferior teams to compete against superior teams when they have a tough upcoming game. On top of that, teams are just 32-52 ATS since 2014 before being double digit underdogs. If the Jets get down big early, they could quit in this meaningless game with a bigger game on deck. This is my Pick of the Week.
Los Angeles Chargers 24 New York Jets 10
Pick against the spread: LA Chargers -6.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week