New England Patriots (11-3 SU, 9-5 ATS) vs. New York Jets (3-11 SU, 4-9-1 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date and Time: Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NE -11.5/NYJ +11.5
Over/Under Total: 47.5
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In Sunday AFC East action, the New England Patriots come into East Rutherford to face the New York Jets. Looking at the record of both teams may suggest this game is a laughingstock, but the Jets came awfully close at Foxborough in their first game with the Pats, losing 27-25, with only a failed 2-point conversion preventing overtime. The Jets have been playing better lately, suggesting this could actually be a decent game.
When a team struggles so massively as the Jets have in 2014, its easy to get carried away with even the most modest positive signs. But a look at New Yorks recent work shows that theyre at least not the worst team in the league, something that looked to be the case earlier this season. In their last 5 games, only one result was truly awful–a 38-3 loss to Buffalo in a postponed game that got moved to Detroit. Before that, they managed a win over the Steelers on the road for a very nice victory. Then they lost to Miami by a FG. The next week, they took the Vikings to overtime, followed by a 16-11 road win over the Titans on Sunday.
When the Jets gave the Pats a run for their money in their first game, it wasnt against the version of New England that struggled early. It was against a Pats team that had gotten its act together. Geno Smith had a good game by his standards and the Jets ground game was excellent with 218 yards on the ground, led by Chris Ivorys 107 yards and a TD run. New England QB Tom Brady was a pedestrian 20-for-37 passing, while their run game stagnated with 63 yards. Neither team turned the ball over.
With the Jets, maybe they now have a certain looseness that comes with there being no pressure. No one is really looking at the Jets. All the flack they caught has died down, as people just came to grips and accepted that they stink, writing them off for the season. First it was the QB controversy, then came the long string of losses. After a while, people just stopped caring about the Jets, as the story got old and more interesting league developments drowned out their struggles to a certain extent. And maybe the heat being off has given way to some better play.
New England is in the playoffs with 11 wins. They have won 9 of their last 10 games. The one loss they suffered was a close road loss to Green Bay. They will close their season with the Jets and Bills and still would like to lock up a top-seed. And theyre just not a team prone to falling into a lull, especially with this being so close to the postseason. One should expect New England to keep this train chugging down the track.
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Geno Smith has caught a lot of grief over his play in 2014 and for good reason. He was even benched in favor of the washed-up Michael Vick, before Vick showed he was even worse than Smith. Amidst a total lack of confidence and a slew of awful results, Smith has stood tall and his last two efforts, losing in OT and notching a win. Of all teams with 2-3 wins in the league, the Jets seem to be the best of the lot heading into the final stretch. Its a small positive sign, but for a team that has been utterly immersed in negativity, its a step in the right direction.
The Jets have been handcuffed by a cast of offensive skill players that is decidedly pedestrian, especially when compared to teams like New England. WR Eric Decker has been putting forth some nice performances. Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory can be useful in the run and were productive in the first game. They good good production at TE with Jace Amaro and Jeff Cumberland. But the numbers dont lie. The Jets are last in the NFL in aerial production and only two teams have scored fewer points. But they are the leagues second most-prolific rushing offense. It just hasnt translated to that much overall success.
Its fair to say the Jets havent gotten the most out of what they have. Sure, the QB situation has been a major roadblock. But for a team that is 2nd in rushing with the 6th-ranked overall defense in the NFL, youd expect more than a 3-11 mark. But the 6th-ranked defense is 24th in points allowed and that could be trouble, now facing the NFLs highest-scoring team in the Patriots. That can be attributed to many things, including the fact that the Jets D has created only 11 turnovers this season, while giving away twice that amount. And thats just he tip of the iceberg.
Brady has been making full use of his cast, with Rob Gronkowski, Brandon LaFell, and Julian Edelman rounding into a formidable three-headed monster in the passing game. As road favorites of 11.5 points, its not terribly difficult to imagine the Pats mauling the Jets in this spot. It really isnt. But my guess is that the Jets will play hard against a team that might be at something less than peak form mentally heading into this game. Its not a matchup that will make the Pats feel in their bones that they need to be shot out of a cannon. I see the Jets hanging in there and covering the spread.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the New York Jets plus 11.5 points.