New York Jets (2-4) at Indianapolis Colts (3-5)
Neither of these two teams are in a good spot this week. The Jets are coming off of a surprising upset victory over the Bengals as 11-point home underdogs, winning their first game with backup quarterback Mike White under center, but the Jets were in a great spot last week, embarrassed after a blowout in New England the week before, facing a Bengals team that was in a trap game spot between a big upset of the Ravens the previous week and another big divisional game against the Browns on deck, meaning they were likely to overlook a 1-win team starting a backup quarterback.
This week, the Colts will have more tape on Mike White than the Bengals did a week ago and the Jets win last week also puts them in a bad spot this week, as teams tend to be flat after a big home upset victory, covering at just a 41.1% rate all-time after a win as home underdogs of 5 points or more. The Jets had a similar situation earlier this year, pulling a home upset victory over the Titans as 6-point underdogs, only to be mostly uncompetitive against a mediocre at best Falcons team the following week.
Making matters worse, Mike White and the Jets will have to go on the road to face a solid Colts team on a short week. It tends to be very tough for a team to go on the road and face a superior team out of the division on a short week and, as a result, non-divisional road underdogs cover at just a 35.0% rate on a short week, with that percentage dropping to 27.5% as underdogs of 7 points or more. The Colts are just 3-5, but they are much better than their record, as all three of their wins have come by double digits, while three of their five losses have come by one score against teams that currently have two losses or fewer (Rams, Ravens, Titans).
Of the Colts’ two losses by more than one score, one was a competitive 9-point loss, also against the Titans, in a game that could have been even more competitive had Colts quarterback Carson Wentz not been playing with two sprained ankles, which he has since healed from, while their other double digit defeat was back in week one. The Colts also were without their top two offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith for 4 games and 6 games respectively and have seen them return from those injuries in the past couple weeks, though Nelson remains at less than 100%. Despite the Colts’ underwhelming record, it will be tough for the Jets to come on the road and be competitive with them on a short week.
Unfortunately, we’re not getting any line value with the Colts, who are favored by 10.5 points, despite still missing some regular contributors on both sides of the ball. The Colts are also in a terrible spot because their loss to the Titans last week came in overtime, putting them in a near impossible spot on a short week, with teams historically covering just 6 times out of 34 on Thursday Night Football after an overtime contest the week before.
As bad of a spot as the Jets are in, the Colts are in an even worse spot and, if anything, we’re actually getting some line value with the Jets, who I have calculated as 10-point underdogs. White is likely to struggle much more than he did a week ago, but he could still be the Jets’ best quarterback, so the Jets don’t like as bad of a bet as they did a few weeks ago. There are too many conflicting things going on in this game to bet on the Jets confidently, but they are the better side for pick ’em purposes as they are in the slightly better spot and are getting a little bit of line value.
Indianapolis Colts 24 New York Jets 16
Pick against the spread: NY Jets +10.5