New England Patriots (12-2 SU, 7-4-3 ATS) vs. New York Jets (9-5 SU, 7-5-2 ATS)
Pro Football Week 16
Date/Time: Sunday, December 27th, 1:00 PM EST
Where: MetLife Stadium
By Mike M., NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NE-3 / NYJ+3
Over/Under Total: 46
The New England Patriots head to New Jersey to take on the New York Jets in a week 16 battle of two teams in the thick of the AFC playoff race. The Patriots locked up a first round bye with a 33-16 win against Tennessee last week, while the Jets are involved in a heated race of 9-5 teams with the Chiefs and Steelers for the two wild card spots. New England can clinch home field advantage with a win this week, while the Jets will need to win out to have a chance of getting in as they are behind both Kansas City and Pittsburgh in tiebreaker scenarios and have easily the hardest remaining schedule amongst the contending trio. New York has games against New England this week and close the year at rival Buffalo (18-10 combined record), whereas Kansas City gets two home games against Cleveland and Oakland (9-19) and Pittsburgh ends on the road against the divisional cellar dwelling Ravens and Browns (7-21).
Thankfully for New York they will be entering their seasons end with plenty of momentum, coming into the game having won their last four games after outlasting the Cowboys 19-16 in Dallas last Saturday night. Its been a streaky sort of season for New York, starting the season with a 4-1 record before falling in week seven to the Patriots, which started a 1-4 slide that has since been followed by their current 4-0 run against the Dolphins, Giants, Titans and Cowboys.
The Jets receiving tandem of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker set a team record last week for most combined touchdowns in a season with a 21 as a pair, topping the record set at 20 by Al Toon/Wesley Walls in 1986 and Don Maynard/Art Powell in 1960 (for those wondering, the most Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet ever scored in their four years as teammates was 18 in 1998). They will both be looking to get into the end zone this weekend against the Patriots after they were held without a score in their 30-23 loss in Foxboro back in October, the only game all season that neither wide receiver was able to get a touchdown.
News out of New York this week that there is mutual interest between the team and their quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in re-upping his contract for next year. Fitzpatrick has played well on the season, especially of late, throwing for ten touchdowns and just one interception while averaging over 300 yards per game during their current four game winning streak. He will need to keep the passing game going strong as his backfield faces a tough matchup against a Patriots run defense that has been playing much better down the stretch and this week will have their sights set on again stopping Chris Ivory, who had started the season on fire with 460 yards and four touchdowns through his first four games but after a 41 yards on 17 carries performance against New England has season his season slow down quite a bit, as Ivory has rushed for more than 100 yards once in his last nine games and has scored only one touchdown in his last six.
Backfield issues are nothing new for the Patriots, who lost starters Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount to injury for the season over the past month and a half, and on Monday they signed veteran Steven Jackson after adding Montee Ball last week to bolster their depleted group of running backs that consists of James White, Brandon Bolden and Joey Iosefa. Surprising many, Iosefa led the team in carries in last weeks win against the Titans, proving again that you never know what to expect out of the Patriots backs and makes playing any of them a serious risk if you are lucky enough to have survived your fantasy football season and are currently in your leagues title game.
The Patriots victory against Tennessee came with a price, as the Patriots again were hit hard by injuries, with wide receiver Danny Amendola and Donta Hightower re-aggravating knee issues and safety Patrick Chung injuring his hip. Amendola is now expected to miss the remainder of the regular season but should return for the playoffs, while the severity to Hightower and Chung has yet to be determined. With seventeen players currently on injured reserve, which is the second most in the NFL behind Baltimore with 18, Tom Brady and the Patriots can nary afford any further ailments with playoff season on the horizon.
The recent history between the Patriots and Jets has been dominated by New England, who has won eight of the last nine games played between the teams and are also 12-4 against the spread in their last sixteen games when playing the Jets in Jersey. With so much on the line in terms of playoff ramifications for both teams, Sundays game promises to be one of the top options the NFL slate. While the Jets may need the game more having to win their last two games to have a shot at a wild card playoff berth and the Patriots already having clinched a bye and having all tiebreaker scenarios against the next closest team the Cincinnati Bengals, its difficult to go against Bill Belichick in a matchup versus a Jets team that he has had the clear upper hand against since he made one of the best career choices in NFL history by bailing on what would be the consistently failing expectations of the Woody Johnson era in New York and instead heading to New England and making history as one of the greatest coaches and minds that sports has ever seen. When in doubt, go with greatness.
Mikes Pick to Cover the Point Spread: New England -3
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