New York Jets at Buffalo Bills: 2021 Week 18 NFL Pick

New York Jets (4-12) at Buffalo Bills (10-6)

The Bills have beaten up on bad teams this season, en route to ranking first in schedule adjusted mixed efficiency and point differential (+177), going 8-1 against teams who are .500 or worse, with their one loss coming by three points and all eight wins coming by at least 14 points, with an average margin of victory of 24.5 points. The Jets would fall into the category of bad teams, but they are not as bad as their 4-12 record and they are being given 16 points here, so we have some room for them to cover even if this game isn’t particularly close, especially if they can get a backdoor cover against a defense that is missing its top cornerback Tre’Davious White, who played in most of the Bills blowout victories this season.

The Jets have struggled significantly with turnovers this season, with the league’s 2nd worst turnover margin at -13, but that is not as nearly predictive as schedule adjusted mixed efficiency, which is based on first down rate and yards per play. The Jets still rank 26th in that metric, but that is still better than their record suggests and their offense has been better in recent weeks, with quarterback Zach Wilson showing some promise. I wouldn’t bet on the Jets, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes, as my calculated line has them as 13-point underdogs.

Buffalo Bills 31 New York Jets 17

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +16

Confidence: Low

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets: 2021 Week 17 NFL Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) at New York Jets (4-11)

There is obviously a big talent gap between these two teams, but this line, favoring the Buccaneers by 13 points on the road, is too high, given all that the Buccaneers are missing right now. At the very least, they will be without talented wide receiver Chris Godwin, starting running back Leonard Fournette, top linebacker Lavonte David, and their top two edge defenders Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, while their other two talented wide receivers Antonio Brown and Mike Evans are both legitimately questionable, as are their top safety Antoine Winfield and their top cornerback Jamel Dean. 

The Jets are not healthy either, missing their top three wide receivers Jamison Crowder, Elijah Moore, and Corey Davis and talented center Connor McGovern, while top cornerback Bryce Hall and top interior defender Quinnen Williams both legitimately questionable, but even in the worst case scenario for the Jets and the best case scenario for the Buccaneers, I have the Buccaneers favored by 12 points, so we’re getting line value with the Jets regardless. Even in the best case scenario for the Jets and the worst case for the Buccaneers, my calculated line is still 9, so I don’t know if I see myself betting on the Jets in any scenario, but they should be the better side for pick ‘em purposes.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 New York Jets 20

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +13

Confidence: Low

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets: 2021 Week 16 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) at New York Jets (3-11)

Both of these teams have terrible records and point differentials, with the 2-12 Jaguars sitting at -174 and the 3-11 Jets sitting at -178, but there are reasons to expect the Jets to be the better of these two teams when they meet this weekend. While their point differentials are similar, the Jets have scored and allowed about 55 more points than the Jaguars, which is a good sign for a couple reasons. 

For one, it means their points scored/points allowed ratio is better, as the Jets have scored 0.584 points for every point they have allowed and the Jaguars have scored just .530, which tends to be more predictive than point differential. Offensive performance also tends to be much more predictive than defensive performance week-to-week so, in general, I favor a team with a better offense over a team with a better defense.

The Jets have also faced a tougher schedule and, in terms of schedule adjusted mixed efficiency, which takes schedule into account and weights offensive performance higher than defensive performance, the Jets rank 29th, while the Jaguars rank 31st. Both teams are terrible and the difference between their ranks might not seem like much, but the gap between these two teams in schedule adjusted mixed efficiency translates to about a 2.5 point advantage for the Jets.

Making matters even worse for the Jaguars is that they will have the most impactful absence in this game, with talented edge defender Josh Allen, arguably their best player on either side of the ball, expected to miss this game because of COVID protocols. Without Allen, the one advantage the Jaguars have, which is having a superior defense, is not nearly as much of an advantage, if it is still an advantage at all. 

Add in the fact that the Jets are at home and they should be favored to win this game by more than the 1.5 points they are currently favored by, which is only enough to cover the advantage of the Jets being at home. My calculated line has the Jets at -4 so we’re getting decent value with the Jets at -1.5. I don’t foresee myself betting on this one, but it’s possible I will change my mind and, either way, the Jets are the better side for pick ‘em purposes.

New York Jets 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Pick against the spread: NY Jets -1.5

Confidence: Low

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins: 2021 Week 15 NFL Pick

New York Jets (3-10) at Miami Dolphins (6-7)

The Dolphins have won five straight games to put themselves back into playoff contention despite a 1-7 start. Between that and the fact that the Dolphins were 10-6 a year ago, the Dolphins are generally seen as at least an average team, but there are a couple things wrong with that. For one, the Dolphins were not nearly as good as their record a year ago, as they faced a very easy schedule and they benefited from an unsustainably high turnover margin (+11), opponent’s field goal percentage (3rd lowest at 73.91%), and 3rd/4th down conversion rate allowed (33.02%), which was actually lower than the 34.07% conversion rate they allowed on 1st/2nd down (4th highest in the NFL).

On top of that, the Dolphins’ schedule during their 5-game winning streak has been pretty easy, as only the Ravens are above .500 and they were playing a Thursday Night Football game after an overtime game, a near impossible spot, with teams covering at just a 16% rate in that spot all-time. Three of those five wins have come against among the worst teams in the league in the Jets, Giants, and the Texans, with two of those wins coming by just one-score, including a 7-point victory over these Jets in New York a few weeks ago.

That first Jets/Dolphins game was even closer than the final score too and, in fact, the Jets actually won both the first down rate and yards per play rate battles, which are the most predictive metrics. On the season, the Dolphins rank just 29th, 16th, and 27th in schedule adjusted offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency, which are based on first down rate and yards per play, and their mixed efficiency, which ranks 26th in the NFL, puts them just about a point ahead of the Jets, who rank 28th. 

The Jets are not as healthy as they were the last time these two teams met, down their two best wide receivers Corey Davis and Elijah Moore, as well as their left tackle George Fant, but the Jets will have running back Michael Carter this time and the Dolphins are missing top wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and talented safety Jevon Holland due to COVID protocols. I have the Dolphins calculated as just 5.5-point favorites in this game, giving us significant value with the Jets at +9.5. The Dolphins are in a good spot in their third straight home game, a 55.2% cover spot all-time, and this is going to be a low confidence pick for now, but I may end up betting on the Jets on gameday once the results of COVID tests are back and we know for sure who is playing for each side.

Update: Holland will play for the Dolphins, while Folorunso Fatukasi is out with COVID for the Jets. The line has moved up to 10 to compensate, but I am no longer considering betting on the Jets, so this will remain a low confidence pick.

Final update: Jevon Holland will be inactive despite being cleared, but despite that, this line has moved up to 10.5 in some places. I am going to make a late play on the Jets at that number, as the Dolphins are very overvalued, especially without Waddle and Holland.

Miami Dolphins 24 New York Jets 19

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +10.5

Confidence: Medium

New Orleans Saints at New York Jets: 2021 Week 14 NFL Pick

New Orleans Saints (5-7) at New York Jets (3-9)

The Saints got off to a 5-2 start, but injuries and other absences have completely derailed their season. Already without top wide receiver Michael Thomas from the start of the year, the Saints have been without starting quarterback Jameis Winston, top offensive lineman Ryan Ramcyzk, first round pick edge defender Payton Turner, and starting tight end Adam Trautman for an extended period of time. They will get feature back Alvin Kamara, talented left tackle Terron Armstead, and starting edge defender Marcus Davenport back this week, but they will also be without suspended wide receiver Deonte Harris, a talented offensive and special teams player, and likely edge defender Cameron Jordan, who is in the COVID protocols and would be an enormous absence for this defense.

Despite their injury situation and their current 5-game losing streak, sinking their record to 5-7, the Saints are still 5.5-point road favorites in New York against the Jets. The Jets are one of the worst teams in the league, but, in their current state, the Saints don’t deserve to be favored by this many points on the road against anyone outside of maybe the Texans. My calculated line has the Saints favored by a field goal at most, so we’re getting enough line value with the Jets at +5.5 for them to be worth betting, especially since they are also in a significantly better spot.

The Jets lost last week at home to the Eagles as home underdogs, a 15-point loss, and teams cover at a 59.0% rate all-time as home underdogs the week following a loss as home underdogs by 14 points or more. The Jets should be much more focused for their second straight home game after a big loss last week. On the other hand, the Saints play the Buccaneers next week and could overlook the Jets or take their foot off in the second half even if they can get a big lead. Road favorites of 4.5 points or more cover at just a 43.8% rate all-time before facing an opponent with a winning percentage over 50% higher than their current opponent. This is a smaller play for now, but if Cameron Jordan is officially ruled out, I would consider increasing this bet, especially if the line moves up to 6 at some point.

New Orleans Saints 19 New York Jets 17

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +5.5

Confidence: Medium

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets: 2021 Week 13 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) at New York Jets (3-9)

The Eagles lost last week in an upset against the Giants in New York, but that was primarily because they lost the turnover battle by 4, which is not a predictive stat. In terms of first down rate and yards per play, which are much more predictive, the Eagles outperformed the Giants. Even with that loss taken into account, dropping the Eagles to 5-7, the Eagles still have a +31 point differential that ranks 12th in the NFL, despite the fact that the Eagles have overall faced one of the toughest schedules in the league, with six of their seven losses coming against teams with winning records. 

Against teams with losing records, the Eagles are 4-1, with their only loss coming last week and, even with that loss taken into account, the Eagles have outscored their opponents by an average of 14.4 points per game in those five games. All in all, the Eagles rank 10th, 11th, 12th, and 9th in offensive, defensive, special teams, and mixed efficiency. Given that, they should be able to beat the Jets with ease, as they are one of the worst teams in the league, ranking 30th in schedule adjusted mixed efficiency.

However, I am hesitant to bet the Eagles as 7-point road favorites because we don’t know how healthy Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is, as he seems legitimately questionable and may not be 100% even if he does play. If Hurts plays at less than 100%, I would be concerned that it would be a repeat of his struggles against the Giants last week and, if he does not play, the Eagles don’t have as good of an upside on offense, which limits their blowout potential, key to betting them as 7-point favorites.

The best case scenario from a betting perspective would be Hurts being ruled out, rather than playing at less than 100%, and then getting the opportunity to bet on the Gardner Minshew led Eagles with hopefully a better number. Minshew is a capable starter who could cover a 4-6 point spread against a terrible Jets team with some relative ease, but that is the only scenario that doesn’t seem too risky to bet right now. For now, I am taking the Eagles for pick ‘em purposes only, but I will probably have an update before gametime.

Update: Hurts is out for the Eagles, so Gardner Minshew will start and, as a result, this line has dropped to 4.5. This is exactly what I was hoping for, as the Eagles have a significant talent edge in this game, but I don’t want to bet on an injured quarterback. Going from Hurts to Minshew is about 2.5 points in difference, but my calculated line still has the Eagles favored by 8.5 points in this game, as the Jets are one of the worst teams in the league and the Eagles have mostly blown out terrible teams this season. Even with Minshew, a low-end starting quarterback, they should win with ease over the Jets, so they are worth a bet.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 New York Jets 16

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -4.5

Confidence: Medium

New York Jets at Houston Texans: 2021 Week 12 NFL Pick

New York Jets (2-8) at Houston Texans (2-8)

The Texans won last week in upset fashion, going into Tennessee and knocking off the previously 8-2 Titans, who were favored by 10 points in that game. However, the Titans have not been as good as their record has suggested this season and they have been even worse than that since losing feature back Derrick Henry, so that win isn’t as impressive as it seems, especially since the primary reason the Texans won is they managed to win the turnover battle by 5, in a 9-point Texans win. Turnover margin is highly non-predictive on a week-to-week basis, so the Texans definitely won’t be able to count on that every week and, in more predictive metrics, the Texans lost the first down rate battle by 9.47% and the yards per play battle by 2.2 yards per play.

That was also the Texans first win since back in week one, when they beat a Jaguars team that has proven to also be one of the worst in the league. In between, the Texans lost 8 straight games, with the average margin of defeat coming by 18.3 points per game. Even that doesn’t show quite how bad the Texans were during that stretch, as that average margin of defeat would be a lot higher if the Patriots weren’t missing most of their offensive line in their 3-point win, a game in which the Patriots still won the first down rate battle by 8.67%, and if the Texans hadn’t scored 22 meaningless garbage points against the Rams in a game in which they were down 38-0 going into the 4th quarter.

Even with last week’s win, the Texans still rank 32nd, 31st, and 24th in offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency, adjusted for schedule, and, in terms of mixed efficiency, the Texans don’t just rank dead last in the NFL, but they are about 4.5 points than any other team in the league. Their win last week also puts them in a bad spot, as teams tend to struggle the week after pulling a huge upset, covering the spread at a 41.7% rate all-time after a win as double digits underdogs, including 40.3% after a win as divisional double digit underdogs. 

That effect could be even more pronounced in this game, as the Texans’ season is still lost at this point and last week’s win over the Titans was the equivalent of the Texans’ Super Bowl. It’s hard to imagine them giving anywhere near that level of effort this week against a fellow 2-8 team in the Jets. The Jets are also one of the worst teams in the league, but their mixed efficiency, which ranks 29th in the league, is still about six points better than the Texans.

The Texans did get a boost a couple weeks ago when veteran starting quarterback returned from injury and replaced overmatched rookie Davis Mills under center, so the gap between these two teams isn’t quite as big as their mixed efficiency rankings show, but Taylor is still a borderline starting caliber quarterback at best, so it’s not enough of a boost to justify the Texans being favored by 2.5 points in this matchup, especially given that they figure to be flat. My calculated line has the Jets favored by 1 point, even before taking into account that the Texans are in a bad spot. I would need a full field goal to bet on the Jets confidently against the spread, but the money line at +120 is a good value, as the Jets should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this game, and the Jets are still the pick for pick ‘em purposes.

Update: This line has moved up to a field goal on Sunday morning. This is likely because Corey Davis was ruled out for the Jets, but I made this pick and this calculated line (Jets -1) with that in mind. The Texans don’t deserve to be favored by a field goal over anyone, even before you take into account that they could be flat after winning their “Super Bowl” last week. I know the Texans beat a same caliber Jaguars team week one at home with Tyrod Taylor under center, but the Texans’ offensive line was a lot healthier in that game with their two talented offensive tackles Laremy Tunsil and Marcus Cannon. Without them, the Texans have struggled to block anyone. If you can get the full field goal, I would recommend a small bet.

New York Jets 23 Houston Texans 20 Upset Pick +130

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +3

Confidence: Medium

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets: 2021 Week 11 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (3-6) at New York Jets (2-7)

One thing I like to do is go against significant week-to-week line movements as, barring injuries, they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play. This game is a great example. A week ago, the Jets were favored by a couple points on the early line, but the Dolphins pulled an upset over the Ravens on Thursday Night Football, while the Jets were blown out in Buffalo and now the Jets are 3.5-point home underdogs, without any significant injury developments on either side.

The Dolphins’ win over the Ravens is much less impressive when you take into account that the Ravens were coming off of an overtime game and playing a Thursday game, a spot in which teams only cover the spread at a 16.0% rate, while the Jets’ 28-point loss to the Bills isn’t as bad when you take into account that all six of the Bills wins have come by 15 points or more (with an average margin of victory of 26.2 points) and that the Bills are one of the top few teams in the league. 

The Jets are just 2-7, but the Dolphins have just one more win and, aside from last week’s fluky win over the Ravens, their other two wins have come in a one-score win over the Texans, one of the worst teams in the league, and by one-point over the Patriots week one in a game in which the Patriots won the first down rate and yards per play battle, but lost a pair of fumbles, including one in easy field goal range that could have won the game. 

The Dolphins were 10-6 a year ago, but a dropoff always seemed inevitable, as they faced a very easy schedule and they benefited from an unsustainably high turnover margin (+11), opponent’s field goal percentage (3rd lowest at 73.91%), and 3rd/4th down conversion rate allowed (33.02%), which was actually lower than the 34.07% conversion rate they allowed on 1st/2nd down (4th highest in the NFL). They were always likely to disappoint this season and it’s not surprising they have done so in such a big way.

Even with last week’s win over the Ravens taken into account, the Dolphins rank just 30th, 24th, and 25th in schedule adjusted offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency and probably shouldn’t be favored by more than a field goal on the road against anyone, except maybe the Texans. The Jets also are likely getting an upgrade at quarterback with veteran Joe Flacco taking over for inexperienced former undrafted free agent Mike White. My calculated line is still about where this line was last week, favoring the Jets by 1.5 points.

On top of that, the Dolphins are also in a bad spot as a result of last week’s win, as teams cover the spread at just a 40.9% rate all-time after winning as home underdogs of 5 points or more, which applies to the Dolphins, who were 7.5-point home underdogs last week. Part of that is because teams tend to be overvalued after a big home win that could easily prove to be a fluke, which I’ve already covered, but teams could also be overconfident in this spot as well.

It would not be a surprise to see the Dolphins look past the Jets, who, by contrast, are coming off of a blowout loss and will want to play their hardest to avoid further embarrassment. With about 1 out of every 4 games decided by 3 points or fewer, we’re getting great line value with the Jets at +3.5 and, between that and the Jets being in a good spot, this is worth a big play, both against the spread and on the money line.

New York Jets 23 Miami Dolphins 20 Upset Pick +150

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +3.5

Confidence: High

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets: 2021 Week 10 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (5-3) at New York Jets (2-6)

It’s tough to know what to make of the Bills this season, as a result, this is a tough game to pick against the spread. The Bills rank 2nd in the NFL with a +117 point differential and all three of their losses have come by one score, but they have also faced the easiest schedule in the league. Their five wins have come against teams who are a combined 14-32 and last week they lost to a Jaguars team that had just one win on the season prior. Despite that loss last week, this line has not shifted at all from favoring the Bills by 13 on the early line last week. The Bills have still blown out most of the weak opponents they have faced and they should do so again here, but we’re not getting any line value either way with this game, as Buffalo -13 is right where my calculated line is. I’m taking the Bills for pick ‘em purposes, but this is close to a coin flip.

Buffalo Bills 27 New York Jets 13

Pick against the spread: Buffalo -13

Confidence: None

New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts: 2021 Week 9 NFL Pick

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

Confidence: Low