To lay the 19.5, or not to lay the 19.5? That is the question when handicapping Sunday’s matchup between the awful New York Jets and the powerful Kansas City Chiefs.
Laying such a heavy number isn’t normally my style. So what do we do? Let’s breakdown what could be the biggest mismatch of the season.
The Chiefs have shown no signs of a Super Bowl hangover. They’re 6-1 (5-2 ATS) and bounced back from a Week 5 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders with a pair of road wins over Buffalo and Denver. Patrick Mahomes is having another superb season, with 1,899 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, and only one interception.
But the bigger narrative in this game involves Kansas City’s running game. Le’Veon Bell will face his old team just two weeks after being released by the Jets and scooped up by the Chiefs. I typically don’t buy into the overused “Revenge Game,” narrative. But it’s also rare for a revenge game to take place two weeks after a player was let go. Clyde Edwards-Helaire will likely still be the lead back, but it wouldn’t stun me if Bell got the first goal-line touch of the game as he tries to stick it to Adam Gase.
Speaking of Gase, he better put his home in New York up for sale. His tenure with the Jets is essentially over, it’s just a matter of when. The “brilliant offensive mind,” is overseeing the team that ranks dead-last in both points scored and yards gained.
Last week, the Jets mustered four—four—total yards in the second half against Buffalo. Sam Darnold is ruined and has no reliable weapons to work with besides Jamison Crowder, whose status is uncertain after missing last week’s game.
Somehow, the Jets covered their first game of the season as double-digit dogs against the Bills. It helped that Buffalo went 0-for-5 in the red zone, which resulted in six field goals. But the Jets really had no business covering.
- In the last 30 seasons, underdogs of 17 points or more are 26-15-2 against the spread, with four winning outright
- The Jets are 4-0 ATS historically as an underdog of 19 points or more
- Kansas City is 29-28-2 ATS as a home favorite under Andy Reid
- The Chiefs are 12-8-1 ATS as a home favorite since 2018, Mahomes’ first full season as a starter
- The Jets are 2-6 ATS as a road underdog under Adam Gase
Covering by three possessions is incredibly hard in the NFL, but this is a colossal mismatch.
If there’s one area where the Chiefs can be exploited, it’s in run defense. Kansas City ranks 30th in rushing yards allowed and give up 4.9 yards per attempt. The Jets are decent on the ground, averaging 4.3 yards per attempt. But it’s hard to expect much explosiveness from a tailback tandem of Frank Gore and La’Mical Perine.
Defensively, the Chiefs should get just about anything they want. The Jets rank 24th in run defense, 27th in pass defense, and have given up the sixth-most points in the league. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams relies on dialing up blitzes and playing man coverage in the defensive backfield. Sadly, it hasn’t worked. The Jets have blitzed on 31.3% of their opponents’ dropbacks and have 11 sacks to show for it.
Blitzing heavily isn’t the way to beat Mahomes. The best way to contain him is to generate pressure organically with your front four and drop back into zone. If you notice, teams like the Los Angeles Chargers give Mahomes the biggest fits because they have stud pass rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
The Jets don’t have any talented pass rushers, and Gregg Williams will probably be too stubborn to change his blitzing ways. That’s a recipe for disaster against Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce.
The only way the Jets have a chance of covering is if they can run the ball effectively and limit turnovers. That’s a lot to ask for of Darnold, who makes at least one horrible decision every week.
If you would rather just stay away from this game and not lay such a huge number, I get it. That might be what I ultimately end up doing. But you didn’t read this article to be told to stay away! If I had to bet it, I’d lay the number with the Chiefs and would only bet the Jets if the line got past 21 points.
The pick: Lean Chiefs -19.5
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