New York Jets (5-10) at New England Patriots (12-3)
Since losing Josh McCown for the season with injury a few weeks back, the Jets have become arguably the worst team in the league, along with the Browns and the TJ Yates led Texans. They weren’t blown out by either the Saints or the Chargers, but that was because they won the turnover battle in New Orleans (and still lost by 12) and because they got a couple long runs against the Chargers, who were missing key players on both sides of the ball. Neither of those are sustainable ways to win, as both turnover margin and big plays tend to be unpredictable on a week-to-week basis. The lost the first down rate battle by a wide margin in both games (-9.91% and -11.31%).
New starting quarterback Bryce Petty has been terrible, as he was last season when he was forced into starting action down the stretch, completing less than 50% of his passes in both starts so far this year. Even before having to start Petty, the Jets had no success away from home this season, as they have a -74 point differential in 7 road games this season (10.57 points per game), even though the Saints are the only difficult team they’ve faced on the road this season (Buffalo, Oakland, Cleveland, Miami, Tampa Bay, and Denver are the other 6).
The Patriots are an obvious step up in class and should be favored by much more than 15 in this one. The Patriots covered as 11-point favorites at home last week against the Bills in a game in which they won the first down rate battle by 22.06%. I don’t buy that the Bryce Petty led Jets are only a few points worse than the Bills. The only explanation I can think of for why this line is only 15 is that the oddsmakers think the Patriots could pull their starters in the second half if they are up big, but that’s not historically how they’ve done things in week 17. In fact, they are 12-4 ATS in week 17 games in the Bill Belichick era. The Patriots may pull their starters late in the game if the game is completely out of hand, but by that point they’ll likely have already covered, so I’m not too worried. This is a high confidence pick.
New England Patriots 34 New York Jets 13
Pick against the spread: New England -15