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

Minnesota Vikings at New York Jets: 2018 Week 7 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (3-2-1) at New York Jets (3-3)

The Jets have gotten off to a surprising 3-3 start, but they’ve faced a relatively easy schedule. Their wins have come over the Lions, Broncos, and Colts and even the teams they’ve lost to are not that impressive, losing to the Dolphins, Browns, and Jaguars. They’re also a bottom-4 team in first down rate differential at -4.56% and have the worst red zone touchdown percentage in the league, scoring a touchdown on just 30% of their red zone opportunities, with most of their scores coming on longer plays from outside the 20.

Making matters worse, the Jets come into this game pretty banged up. They will be without 2 of their top-3 cornerbacks again this week, with Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine still injured, and they will also be without top receiver Quincy Enunwa and the receiver who likely would have replaced Enunwa in the lineup, Terrelle Pryor. On top of that, top running back Isaiah Crowell is at less than 100% with a foot injury.

Fortunately, they’re facing an equally banged up Minnesota team. Projected by many to be a top contender in the NFC, the Vikings have been underwhelming in large part due to injury and rank just 22nd in first down rate differential. Defensive end Everson Griffen and running back Dalvin Cook have missed extended periods of time and continue to be out, while left tackle Riley Reiff and safety Andrew Sendejo will miss their second straight game this week, after missing last week’s underwhelming home performance at home against the Cardinals. Even with those players out, I still have this line calculated at Minnesota -4, but there’s not nearly enough here to bet this game.

Update: Linval Joseph was unexpectedly ruled out for the Vikings Sunday morning, but this line has not moved to compensate. I’m changing my pick to the Jets, but this remains a no confidence pick.

Minnesota Vikings 20 New York Jets 17

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +3.5

Confidence: None

Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets: 2018 Week 6 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (1-4) at New York Jets (2-3)

The Jets have a pair of wins by double digits, beating the Lions 48-17 week 1 and the Broncos 34-16 last week. However, they were not as good as the final score suggested in either game. Against the Lions, they won the first down rate battle by just +5.94% and didn’t have a touchdown drive of more than 6 plays all game, benefitting from short fields off turnovers (5 takeaways), big plays on offense (2 touchdowns of 40+ yards), and return touchdowns (2 return touchdowns). Last week, they lost the first down rate battle by -2.82%, but had another 3 touchdowns of 35+ yards that led to the victory.

Big plays and turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so the Jets are not going to always be able to rely on those. In their 3 losses, they are -1 in turnovers and don’t have a single play longer than 44 yards. On the season, their offense has really struggled to move the ball, moving the chains at a 31.31% rate, 28th in the NFL. They are also dead last in red zone touchdown percentage, scoring primarily from outside of the 20 on big plays. Their defense is solid, ranking 9th at 34.20%, but their offensive struggles have them 24th overall in first down rate differential at -2.89%.

The Colts aren’t much better, especially with all of the players they are missing due to injury (top receiver TY Hilton, starting tight end Jack Doyle, starting defensive lineman Denico Autry, starting safety Clayton Geathers and his backup Matthias Farley), but the Jets aren’t healthy either with their top-2 cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine out and top running back Isaiah Crowell expected to be a gametime call, so the Colts have a good chance to come in and pull off the upset.

The Colts are also in a better spot, with another easy game against the Bills on deck. The Jets, on the other hand, have to turn around and face a tough Minnesota team, a game they will almost definitely be underdogs in. Underdogs are 81-48 ATS since 2014 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs. There’s not quite enough here to bet the Colts as just 2-point underdogs when they are this banged up, but the money line is worth a small bet because the Colts are no worse than 50/50 to win this game.

Indianapolis Colts 23 New York Jets 20 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis +2

Confidence: Low

Denver Broncos at New York Jets: 2018 Week 5 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (2-2) at New York Jets (1-3)

The Jets are one of the worst teams in the league, but are strangely favored by a point at home against a decent Denver team. Under ordinary circumstances, the Broncos would be a smart bet this week, but they’re also in a tough spot, coming off of a close loss against the undefeated Chiefs, with a big home game against the undefeated Rams on deck. The Broncos are 6 point underdogs in that game on the early line and teams are just 42-77 ATS before being home underdogs of 4.5+ since 2014. The Broncos should still win this game relatively easily, but this could easily be a trap game for them so I wouldn’t recommend betting this one.

Denver Broncos 20 New York Jets 17 Upset Pick +100

Pick against the spread: Denver +1

Confidence: Low

New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2018 Week 4 NFL Pick

New York Jets (1-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1)

The Jets seemed to many to have a breakout week 1 performance on national television, beating the Lions by the final score of 48-17 on Monday Night Football. That win was not as impressive as the final score suggested though.  The Jets finished with just the 7th best first down rate differential at +5.94% that week and didn’t have a touchdown drive of more than 6 plays all game, benefitting from short fields off turnovers (5 takeaways), big plays on offense (2 touchdowns of 40+ yards), and return touchdowns (2 return touchdowns), all of which tend to be fluky and inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. Since then, they’ve lost to the Dolphins and Browns, knocking their expectations back down to earth. They have upside, but on paper they have a bottom-5 roster and they could easily continue playing like it.

The Jaguars beat up on teams like the Jets all last season, playing arguably the easiest schedule in the NFL and winning 8 games by 12 points or more. They’re not in a good spot though, as they could easily overlook the Jets with the Chiefs on deck. The Jets, meanwhile, should be focused with only a home game against the Broncos on deck. Favorites are 72-120 ATS before being underdogs (which the Jaguars will be in Kansas City) when their opponent will next be favorites (which the Jets will be at home). I’m taking the Jaguars and expecting a blowout, especially with the Jaguars coming off of a disappointing home loss to a banged up Tennessee team, but I wouldn’t bet money on it. We’re not getting enough line value at 7.5.

Jacksonville Jaguars 20 New York Jets 10

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville -7.5

Confidence: Low