Miami Dolphins (6-4) at New York Jets (0-10)
The Jets haven’t won a game yet, but they’ve played better in recent weeks. In their last four games, their only loss by more than one score came against the Chiefs and they were able to keep it within a touchdown against capable opponents in the Bills, Patriots, and Chargers. That doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment, but considering they lost each of their first 6 games of the season by at least 9 points and an average of 18.33 points, it represents progress. The Jets still rank dead last in schedule adjusted first down rate differential at -7.00%, but a lot of that is because of how much they struggled earlier in the season and they’ve actually moved out of the basement to 30th in my roster rankings.
While the Jaguars and Bengals both being extremely banged up is a big part of the reason why the Jets moved ahead of them in my roster rankings, the Jets are also improved, primarily due to their offense being healthier, especially in the receiving corps, where the Jets have gotten each of their top-3 wide receivers back from injury in Jamison Crowder (4 games missed), Denzel Mims (6 games), and Breshad Perriman (4 games) in recent weeks. That’s been the biggest reason for their improvement on the field and, this week, they’ll get starting quarterback Sam Darnold back as well. While Darnols has hardly been impressive in his career, he’s still the Jets’ best quarterback and he’ll have his full complement of receivers available to him this week for the first time all season, so this offense has the upside to be much improved.
When these two teams back in week 6, the Dolphins utterly dominated the Jets in a 24-0 victory in which they won the first down rate battle by 13.30%, but the Jets didn’t have Darnold, left tackle Mekhi Becton, or wide receiver Denzel Mims in that game, which were big absences. On top of that, the Dolphins were still starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick back then and their offensive efficiency numbers have been better with him under center this season than with raw rookie Tua Tugavailoa, who will also be playing through a hand injury that knocked him out of the Dolphins’ loss in Denver last week.
That loss wasn’t really a fluke either, as the Dolphins have not been as good as their 6-4 record, ranking 22nd in schedule adjusted first down rate differential at -0.83%. The Dolphins have faced an easy schedule and they have benefitted from things like a +6 turnover margin, a +3 return touchdown margin, and a 63.64% opponent’s field goal percentage (best in the NFL), three things that tend to be totally unpredictable on a week-to-week basis. With the Jets being better in recent weeks, my calculated line for this game is just Miami -4, so we’re getting good line value with the Jets at +6.5. There isn’t enough here for me to actually want to bet money on the Jets this week, something I haven’t done all year, but if this line moves up to 7, I would strongly consider it, as the Jets seem to finally be bettable.
Update: Tua Tagovailoa was surprisingly ruled out for the Dolphins today, so Ryan Fitzpatrick will now get the start instead. I think that improves the Dolphins’ chances in this game and the odds makers and sharps seem to agree, pushing this line up to a full touchdown. With Fitzpatrick, my calculated line is Miami -5, so we’re still getting line value with the Jets, but I have no interest in betting them.
Update: The Jets are surprisingly going to be without left guard Alex Lewis, even though he practiced throughout the week. The Jets will already be down their right tackle, which wasn’t a huge deal because their receiving corps is significantly better than it was earlier this season, but missing two offensive linemen is going to be a problem against a good Dolphins defensive front. I’m dropping all confidence on this game, but remaining on the Jets slightly.
Miami Dolphins 23 New York Jets 17
Pick against the spread: NY Jets +7