Houston Texans at New York Jets: 2018 Week 15 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (9-4) at New York Jets (4-9)

This is a tough one. On one hand, the Texans have played a lot of close games this year. They are 9-4, but have just 4 wins by more than a touchdown, including just one road win by more than a touchdown, relevant considering this line is Houston -7. On the other hand, the Jets are one of the worst teams in the league, especially without suspended every down linebacker Darron Lee, so this line seems about right, even if the Texans are not quite as good as their record suggests.

The Jets won in Buffalo last week, but they lost the first down rate battle in that game by 2.66%, winning primarily because they won the turnover margin and converted a 4th down, which is not something that they can count on every week. The previous week, the Jets almost won in Tennessee, but they lost the first down rate battle in that game by 18.59%, losing the game despite blocking a punt and scoring a defensive touchdown. On the season, they rank just 31st in first down rate differential at -6.49%, significantly behind the #11 ranked Texans, who are at +2.08%. We’re not getting any line value with the Texans, so this is a no confidence pick, but they make more sense for pick ‘em purposes.

Houston Texans 24 New York Jets 16

Pick against the spread: Houston -7

Confidence: None

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills: 2018 Week 14 NFL Pick

New York Jets (3-9) at Buffalo Bills (4-8)

These two teams met week 10 in New York in a game the Bills shockingly won 41-10 as 7-point underdogs, despite starting journeyman Matt Barkley, signed 11 days prior, at quarterback. Going into that game, the Bills had a league worst 25.85% first down rate, but they picked up first downs at a 36.99% rate in that game. The Bills then got Josh Allen back from a 4-game absence in their next game following the bye and have picked up first downs in a 39.17% rate in two games since, as Allen has improved significantly as his rookie year has gone on. The Bills also have a solid defense and are 3-3 with a -12 point differential in 6 games started and finished by Allen, who also was leading on the road in Houston in the second half in the game in which he got hurt.

The Bills winning in the first matchup doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to cover or even win this week, as divisional home favorites are just 41-68 ATS since 2002 against teams they’ve previously beaten that season as divisional road underdogs and only have a 55% winning percentage, despite being favored by 5.1 points on average. However, the Bills are the significantly better of these two teams right now, as the Jets rank 31st in first down rate differential at -6.73%, are missing top linebacker Darron Lee due to suspension, and have not played good football in weeks, losing last week in Tennessee despite an interception touchdown and a blocked punt. We’re not getting much line value with the Bills as 3.5-point favorites, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Buffalo Bills 17 New York Jets 12

Pick against the spread: Buffalo -3.5

Confidence: Low

New York Jets at Tennessee Titans: 2018 Week 13 NFL Pick

New York Jets (3-8) at Tennessee Titans (5-6)

The Titans have been one of the most unpredictable teams in the league this season, having the 3rd most DVOA variance in the league, only ahead of the Bills (who have started 4 different quarterbacks) and the Titans’ opponents this week, the New York Jets. For that reason, I’m not too excited to bet either side, but the Titans should be able to win this one with ease. They rank just 21st in first down rate differential at -2.25%, but they’ve also faced the 2nd toughest schedule in the NFL, with their opponents combining for a 56% winning percentage.

By contrast, their opponents this week are just 3-8 and are one of the worst teams in the league, ranking 29th in first down rate differential at -5.69%. If the Titans can win by double digits against the Cowboys and Patriots in recent weeks, they should be able to blowout the lowly Jets. However, because both of these teams have been unpredictable, it’s hard to say that with much certainty.

The Titans also have to play again in a few days on Thursday Night Football, which is usually a bad spot for favorites, as they are 55-72 ATS since 2012 before being a Thursday game, but the Titans have another easy game next week, hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars, so that kind of cancels that out. Favorites of 7+ are 58-35 ATS since 2014 before being favorites of 7+ again. There’s not enough here to confidently take the Titans, but I like their chances of covering this 8-point spread.

Tennessee Titans 24 New York Jets 13

Pick against the spread: Tennessee -8

Confidence: Low

New England Patriots at New York Jets: 2018 Week 12 NFL Pick

New England Patriots (7-3) at New York Jets (3-7)

The Patriots started off the season 1-2, but followed that up by ripping off 6 straight wins, putting them firmly back into Super Bowl contention once again. However, then they followed that up by getting blown out by 24 in Tennessee prior to their bye week, their biggest loss this late in the season with Tom Brady under center. Many soured on them after that loss and I think they’re underrated as a result.

They’re still one of the better teams in the league on paper and the Titans are a legitimately good team when Marcus Mariota is healthy, with one of the better defenses in the league, so that loss wasn’t as bad as it looked. The Titans got blown out in Indianapolis last week, but that was in part because they were flat after their huge upset win, in part because they lost Mariota to injury in the first half, and in part because the Colts have been quietly one of the best teams in the league over the past month.

The Patriots have also been so good throughout the years that they should get the benefit of the doubt, especially since they have played at a very high level on numerous occasions this season. They typically bounce back well after a loss, going 48-25 ATS in the Bill Belichick era, including 38-19 ATS with Tom Brady, and they are typically dominant in the second half of the season, going 65-42 ATS in the final 8 games of the regular season with Tom Brady under center.

The Patriots are also in a great spot coming off the bye against a lowly Jets team that ranks 28th in first down rate differential at -5.15%. Good teams typically beat up on bad teams after a week off. Road favorites of 4+ are 31-8 ATS since 2002 after a bye, including a ridiculous 11-1 ATS against divisional opponents. The Patriots have had two weeks to hear about how they supposedly have lost it and I expect them to come out of their bye with a statement win.

The Patriots are also much healthier going out of the bye, with right guard Shaq Mason and tight end Rob Gronkowski expected to return from short-term absences. Both were badly missed in their loss in Tennessee. This line is pretty high at -9.5, but I have the Patriots favored by 11.5 points, as this is a matchup of one of the worst teams in the league and one of the best. The Patriots should cover with ease in what should be a blowout victory.

New England Patriots 30 New York Jets 13

Pick against the spread: New England -9.5

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets: 2018 Week 10 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (2-7) at New York Jets (3-6)

I was stalling this write up a little bit because I was hoping we’d get some word today on who the Bills will start under center this week. Derek Anderson remains out with a concussion, but regular starter Josh Allen got some limited practice time in this week and the Bills did not commit to going back to backup Nathan Peterman if Allen can’t go this week, meaning street free agent Matt Barkley is a candidate to start in this one, after less than 2 weeks with the team.

If Allen is ruled out, the Bills are an auto-fade this week and I will likely bet on the Jets. The Bills have been an auto-fade ever since Josh Allen went down, losing all 3 games by an average of 27.7 points and failing to cover in any of them. Allen wasn’t exactly playing well either, but the Bills’ options behind him on the depth chart are so bad and they have a horrible supporting cast around the quarterback on offense. In a league where moving the ball in easier than it’s ever been, the Bills have picked up a first down or touchdown on just 25.85% of offensive snaps, 10.70% below the league average, and they have a ridiculous 16 interceptions to just 3 passing  touchdowns.

The Jets aren’t playing well either, but if Allen is out, they are more than 4 points better than the Bills, which is what this line (Jets -7 at home) suggests. Quarterback Sam Darnold is out with a foot injury, but that might actually be a good thing for this team right now, as Darnold had been playing terribly and they have a capable veteran backup in Josh McCown ready to go behind him on the depth chart.

Remember, McCown had a pretty underwhelming Jets team at 5-7 last season before he got hurt and he had a solid 94.5 QB rating, with 18 passing touchdowns to 9 interceptions. His age (39) and injury history are a concern, but he should be able to give them a couple good spot starts and I think he’s an upgrade over Darnold right now. The Jets also get top cornerback Trumaine Johnson back this week from an extended absence, which will help.

On top of that, the Jets are in a great spot going into their bye, as teams are 55-22 ATS since 2002 as home favorites of 7+ before a bye. Normally that trend is reserved for top level teams, who tend to be very focused with a week off in front of them, but teams with sub-.500 records are also 7-3 ATS in that spot. With no upcoming distractions, the Jets should be able to take care of business at home against an inferior opponent, as long as Allen remains on the sideline.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that’s going to be the case, as it wouldn’t make sense for the Bills to rush Allen back and risk further injury to his throwing arm in a lost season, but the Bills might be so desperate to be competitive in a divisional game that they rush him back. I’m leaving this as a low confidence pick for now, but if/when Allen is ruled out I will bump this up to medium, as long as the line doesn’t move significantly. I’m guessing it won’t and that this line already takes into account that either Peterman or Barkley will likely start this game.

Update: Josh Allen was ruled out Saturday afternoon as expected, leaving Matt Barkley to start this game for the Bills, but this line shifted to 7.5. That might not seem like a significant line movement, but about 1 in 10 games are decided by exactly a touchdown. I’m going to leave this as a low confidence pick unless the line goes back down. The Jets should win this with ease, but asking their offense to cover a 7.5 point line against a capable Bills defense is a lot. Barkley will probably throw a pick six or something to make it easier for the Jets, but that’s not something you can confidently bet on.

Final update: This line has shifted back to -7 Sunday morning, so this is now a medium confidence pick.

New York Jets 20 Buffalo Bills 9

Pick against the spread: NY Jets -7

Confidence: Medium

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins: 2018 Week 9 NFL Pick

New York Jets (3-5) at Miami Dolphins (4-4)

When these two teams met in week 2, the Dolphins got an upset victory as road underdogs in New York, winning 20-12. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Dolphins will win at home though. In fact, divisional home favorites only win about 55% of the time over the past 15 years against a team they previously beat as road underdogs and they are just 35-64 ATS against the spread. Evenly matched teams tend to split the season series, even if the road underdog pulls the upset in the first game.

The Dolphins have also had a lot of injuries since that game, with quarterback Ryan Tannehill, wide receivers Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills, and defensive ends Charles Harris and William Hayes all going down with injury since week 2, though the Jets are likely without their top-2 receivers Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson, along with center Spencer Long and cornerback Trumaine Johnson, so neither team is in a good injury situation.

The Dolphins are also in a terrible spot with a trip to Green Bay on deck, while the Jets return home and face the lowly Bills next week. Favorites are just 41-71 ATS since 2002 before being double digit underdogs, which the Dolphins are on the early line for next week’s game, and favorites in general are just 51-84 ATS before being underdogs when their opponent will next be favorites, which the Jets will be next week. I wish we were getting a full field goal with the Jets because I have these teams about even in my rankings, so there’s no line value at +2.5, but the money line is a good play at +125 and if this line moves up to 3 before gametime I will make this a higher confidence pick.

Update: Two developments in this game Sunday morning. For one, the line has shifted back and +3s are available. On top of that, both Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson are expected to suit up for the Jets, despite limited practice this week. They likely won’t be at 100%, but they should still provide a boost for a very thin receiving corps. The Jets are a solid play this week if you can get +3 because they’re in so much better of a spot than the Dolphins.

New York Jets 20 Miami Dolphins 17 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +3

Confidence: Medium

New York Jets at Chicago Bears: 2018 Week 8 NFL Pick

New York Jets (3-4) at Chicago Bears (3-3)

The Bears are just 3-3, but they are still one of the better teams in the league, with their 3 losses coming by a combined 11 points, including a loss last week to the Patriots by 7 in which they won the first down rate battle by 5.36%. On the season, they have a +36 point differential, 5th best in the NFL, and rank 2nd in first down rate differential at +7.11%, which matches their talent level, as they’ve been a top-5 team on paper since getting Khalil Mack in a trade with the Raiders before the season began.

The Jets, on the other hand, are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Despite an easy schedule (Detroit, Miami, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Denver, Indianapolis, Minnesota), the Jets rank just 28th in first down rate differential at -4.48%. Their defense hasn’t been bad, allowing opponents to move the chains a a 34.66% rate, 10th in the NFL, but their offense ranks 28th in first down rate at 30.18% and is even worse in the red zone, scoring a touchdown on just 34.78% of their red zone trips, worst in the NFL.

The Jets also enter this game pretty banged up, missing top cornerback Trumaine Johnson and three of their top-4 receivers, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, and Terrelle Pryor. The Bears, on the other hand, are close to full strength and should be able to win this game at home with relative ease. I wish this line was still -6.5 or -7 where it briefly was earlier this week, but I like the Bears still at -7.5, as this should be a double digit game.

Chicago Bears 24 New York Jets 13

Pick against the spread: Chicago -7.5

Confidence: Medium