Well, here we are again. Some things are the same and some are different as the Jets travel to Foxborough to take on the Patriots on Sunday.
One thing that’s the same is the Patriots still have a massive winning streak over the Jets, which now stands at 13 games after New England’s 22-17 victory at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 30. Another is the stakes remain high thanks the Jets’ upset victory over the Bills before the bye. The Jets are 6-3 and with a win would claim first place in the AFC East on tiebreakers over the idle Dolphins (7-3) and Bills (6-3 and facing the Browns).
One change is that both teams could be getting some players back from injury. Wide receiver DeVante Parker and safety Kyle Dugger are two important Patriots who could return, while Corey Davis, nominally the Jets’ top receiver, also could be back.
The major thing that would have to change for the Jets to cover as three-point underdogs, let alone win, is Zach Wilson has to find a way to not disintegrate at Bill Belichick’s feet. Wilson threw three interceptions in the first meeting and was credited with one rush for 2 yards.
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Against the Bills the following week, Wilson ran five times for 24 very important yards, moving the chains at key times. If Wilson had turned even one of his interceptions against the Patriots into a first down, the Jets probably would have won that game. They most likely would have won had there not been a roughing the passer penalty on John Franklin-Myers that negated a pick-six that would have made it 17-3. Replays showed that to be a legit call but would the Jets have gotten the same flag on the road if, say, Matthew Judon had put the same hit on Wilson?
If you had bet on the Jets each of the last 13 games against the Patriots, you’d be livin’ in a van down by the river and eating dry cat food. But that doesn’t mean they can’t beat them on Sunday. I believe the way they beat the Bills showed the Jets what they need to finally conquer the Patriots. So here goes …
Pick: Jets +3
NEW YORK GIANTS (-3) over Detroit Lions
The Lions come into MetLife with statistically the worst defense in the NFL in yards allowed, and they have allowed the most points in the league. Though they are 5-4 ATS and have played a lot of close games, one result that sticks out is their 29-0 drubbing at New England. The Giants eventually will stub their toes again but it won’t be this week in windy conditions against an indoor team.
Chicago Bears (+3) over ATLANTA FALCONS
The Bears are the first team in NFL history to lose three games in a row in which they scored at least 29 points. Those losses, however, came against the Cowboys, Dolphins and Lions — good offensive teams. The Falcons are not that. Also, the Bears scored 33 in a win at New England before that ignominious streak. You can count on Justin Fields and can’t rely on the Falcons to keep pace.
Buffalo Bills (-7.5) over Cleveland Browns (in Detroit)
The change venue from Snowpocalypse Orchard Park to toasty and dry Ford Field dropped the line a full point, but it might make the Bills a better bet than they were. The conditions no longer reward Cleveland’s ground-heavy attack. Not sure about Josh Allen’s elbow but I do figure the Bills will be hopping mad after consecutive losses to the Jets and Vikings.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (+6.5) over Philadelphia Eagles
Jeff Saturday was a winner in his Colts interim debut as Jonathan Taylor broke a long one against the win-repellant Raiders. This is a huge step up in class. The biggest concern with the Eagles is they are traveling on a short week after a physically draining loss to the Commanders.
Los Angeles Rams (+3) over NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
This selection comes down to not wanting to lay a field goal with the Saints. Cooper Kupp is gone from the Rams and it’s easy to think they have no talent left, but Matthew Stafford is expected to return and maybe guys like Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, Bobby Wagner and Jalen Ramsey can take over a game the way they used to.
Carolina Panthers (+13) over BALTIMORE RAVENS
Here’s a spread that doesn’t look quite right. The Ravens have bookended their season with a 15-point win over the Jets and 14-point victory over the Saints. In between, every game has been decided by single digits, including margins of two, three, three and four. Baker Mayfield returns for the Panthers and is playing to save his career as a starting QB, most likely.
Betting on the NFL?
Washington Commanders (-3) over HOUSTON TEXANS
Not worried about the short week and road back-to-back for the Commanders, because they had an 81-47 play advantage and kept the ball for over 40 minutes. They could have played this game Tuesday morning. Washington can keep pounding Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson at the NFL’s 30th-ranked yardage defense.
Las Vegas Raiders (+2.5) over DENVER BRONCOS
Denver allows the fewest points per game in NFL (16.6) but it also scores the fewest (14.6). It’s hard to cover even a small spread as a favorite when you score so little. Raiders are 0-6 in one-score games but at least they play close games. They still have enough talent to win one here.
Dallas Cowboys (-1.5) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Despite much public money on Minnesota, the books are holding firm on Dallas as a small road favorite. The Vikings are a lofty 8-1 but own just a plus-35 point differential and also rank 29th in yardage defense.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (+3.5) over Cincinnati Bengals
With Ja’Marr Chase still out for Cincinnati and T.J. Watt available for Pittsburgh, this is a very interesting call at this number. We’ve given this trend a bit of a rest here but Mike Tomlin is 48-26 in his career as an underdog, including a Week 1 win in Cincinnati.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (+5.5) over Kansas City Chiefs
It’s the same story for the Chiefs, who remain a top-tier Super Bowl contender but are only 3-5-1 against the spread. It’s a concern to give points with them. Wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams returned to practice on Wednesday for the Chargers. If even one of them can come back, stay on the field and produce, it would be a huge help for Justin Herbert.
Arizona Cardinals (+8) over SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (in Mexico City)
Big question mark at quarterback for the Cardinals. They beat the Rams with Colt McCoy in for the injured Kyler Murray, but now McCoy is hurt. While this would be a nice number to back Murray, you’d want double digits if Trace McSorley is under center for Arizona.
Best bets: Commanders, Bears, Cowboys.
Lock of the week: Commanders (Locks 6-4 in 2022).
Last week: 7-7 overall, 2-1 Best Bets.