Two bitter AFC East rivals square off for the second time in just over a month when the New York Jets travel to Gillette Stadium to rematch the New England Patriots.
The last time these two teams met, the Pats dominated and rattled rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. So will Wilson and the Jets be able to flip the script on Mac Jones and the Patriots this week? Let’s break it down.
- Opening line: New England -6.5
- Current line: New England -7
- Total: 42.5
Jets try to get right following the bye week
The Jets were off last week following a disappointing effort against the Atlanta Falcons in London. Unfortunately, disappointing would be the best way to describe New York’s season.
The Jets are once again a mess on offense, and Wilson’s rookie season has been a mess thus far. The BYU product leads the league with nine interceptions, four of which came in Week 2 against the Pats. However, Wilson has shown flashes of brilliance and has made a handful of high-difficulty throws. Wilson has a long way to go in his development, but he shouldn’t be written off yet.
It doesn’t help that the rest of New York’s offense stinks. The offensive line can’t get a push in the running game and has allowed 18 sacks on the season. The tailback committee featuring Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, and rookie Michael Carter isn’t effective. And none of New York’s pass catchers have emerged. All of that results in a defense that ranks dead-last in offensive DVOA and passing DVOA.
Hopefully, this offense and coaching staff did some soul searching during the week off for Jets fans.
Defensively, the Jets play hard but aren’t very good. New York ranks 21st in defensive DVOA, 23rd in pass defense DVOA, and 17th in run defense DVOA. The unit has some pieces in linebacker C.J. Mosley, on the trade block, and Quinnen Williams. But New York’s unheralded secondary has struggled at times and has been the Achilles’ heel at times.
Patriots are far away from dynasty days.
It’s weird to say this, but the Patriots are simply mediocre. The roster isn’t devoid of talent, but it’s not flush with stars. And their good coaching has helped them stick around in games this year. But this team just hasn’t had enough to beat the league’s best, as evidenced by their gut-wrenching losses to Tampa Bay and Dallas at home.
If you asked me who the best rookie quarterback has been this season, I’d probably have to say, Mac Jones. However, that comes with a caveat, as Jones has been riding with training wheels for the entire season. Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels want to shield the Alabama rookie. Or maybe they’re just scared of Jones costing them a game. So many times this year, we’ve seen Belichick pass on 4th and short situations, opting to punt in plus territory or kick a field goal.
Jones hasn’t been asked to do too much as the Pats. And New England’s conservative offense ranks 23rd across the board in offensive DVOA.
New England’s strength unsurprisingly has been its defense, which ranks 11th in defensive DVOA and ninth in rush defense DVOA. However, New England has been somewhat susceptible is against the pass, where it ranks 16th in DVOA and 15th in passing yards allowed.
It’s fair to wonder whether New England’s defense is as good as the metrics suggest. After all, they’ve faced the Saints, Dolphins, Jets, and Texans this year. The last three teams rank 30th, 31st, and 32nd in offensive DVOA, and the Saints rank 17th. And Dak Prescott recently carved the Pats secondary up for 445 yards in last week’s game.
Fortunately for New England, Wilson and the Jets’ passing game doesn’t pose nearly as much of a threat.
This is a pretty ugly game from a betting perspective. I can’t justify laying seven points with this Patriots team in a divisional game. And while I expect the Jets to have a better game plan this time around off the bye week, I also can’t trust them to cover this number.
I also don’t put much stock into the famous Belichick trends, such as his 48-24 ATS record after a loss. With no Tom Brady around, these trends don’t mean nearly as much anymore. If I had to bet on this side, I’d probably take the points reluctantly.
What I do have a play on is the total. Just like in Week 2, I’m recommending the under. The Jets offense should be considered broken until I see more. And New England’s offense doesn’t have the explosiveness to put up much more than 24 points. DraftKings currently has the last 43 on the market, so I’d target that number.
Pick: Under 43 points
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