New England Patriots (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. New York Jets (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS)
NFL Week 6
Date/Time: Sunday October 15th 1:00 PM EST
Where: MetLife Stadium
by Mike M, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NE-9/NYJ +9
Over/Under Total: 47.5
The Patriots head west on I-95 to take on the Jets in East Rutherford in the first of two games this season between the divisional rivals, with both currently tied atop the AFC East at 3-2 along with the Buffalo Bills. This will be the 117th meeting between the teams, with the Patriots holding a 61-54-1 all time advantage while also having the clear upper hand of late, winning ten of the last twelve meetings and posting a record of 25-8 since Tom Brady took over as starting quarterback back in 2001.
Going into the season many questioned whether the Jets could even get to three wins, but through just five weeks have already reached that total and now have a winning record for the first time since the 2015 season. All fan hope/talk of them tanking the season to get the first pick in the draft to take USC quarterback Sam Darnold has finally subsided as the Jets now find themselves theoretically competing for what would be their first divisional title in fifteen years.
New York enters the game against the Patriots riding a three game winning streak after having beaten the Dolphins, Jaguars and just recently the Browns. They have managed to get past with Josh McCown as their quarterback with the originally hoped to be starter Christian Hackenberg still woefully unprepared for the NFL game and continuing to look more like a punchline than a professional QB. McCown has been managing games well enough through the first month and now has the added benefit of getting starting tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins back from suspension, which immediately bolstered a lackluster receiving core that has been solely highlighted by newly acquired Jermaine Kearse, who is the current team leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns.
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Through the first five weeks the Jets rank near the bottom offensively in yards, passing and scoring, but have at least done well enough on the ground to come in at 12th overall in rushing yards per game. Unfortunately that success seems to have come to a quick halt as the team managed just 34 yards on 18 carries against the Browns last week as injuries continue to pile up amongst their backfield. Lead back Matt Forte has missed their last two games due to a toe injury and backup Bilal Powell suffered a calf injury in the Cleveland game that caused him to leave in the first half and never turn. Third stringer Elijah McGuire was unable to get anything going as his replacement and averaged less than 2 yards per carry, and with both Forte and Powell questionable this week the pressure will surely be on the Jets defense to attempt to slow down the Patriots top rated offense as Gang Green looks to move forward with their patchwork backfield.
Even with the trade of behaviorally troubled lineman Sheldon Richardson, the strength of the Jets defense was expected to be up front led by stalwarts Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson. Things have not turned out that way so far, as neither Williams or Wilkerson have lived up those expectations with a combined zero sacks on the season and the team currently 30th against the run and having recovered just one fumble through their first five games. Anyone who has watched the Patriots offense this season knows just how bad their offensive line has played with quarterback Tom Brady constantly facing a barrage of pressure, and if the Jets hope to keep this weekends game close they will certainly need inspired play from Williams and Wilkerson up front to get in the New England backfield and cause havoc amongst their passing and rushing offense.
Brady has had his fair share of success against the Jets throughout his career, having thrown 44 touchdowns compared to just 13 interceptions to go along with the previously mentioned mark of 25-8 since 2001. He has been especially dominant of late, leading the team to a 10-2 record against NYJ over their last twelve meetings with Brady throwing for 22 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. While it is impressive that the Jets have managed to pull off three wins in a row, they did so against some of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league in Jay Cutler, Blake Bortles and Deshone Kizer and it will be interesting to see how they stack up against someone of Bradys caliber.
Who Brady will be throwing to remains to be seen, as the availability of tight end Rob Gronkowski remains questionable after he was a late scratch for last Thursdays game against the Buccaneers. When on the field there is no questioning the impact of the Patriots tight end, but the frequent health issues continue to be a concern for the team, especially for a season when they have already lost Julian Edelman for the year due to injury. With their offensive line struggling throughout the first month of the year, Brady can ill afford to lose his other most trusted target as he is forced to make quicker decisions due to the impending rush of defenders.
Despite remaining near the bottom of every defensive statistical category in the league, Patriots fans were able to breathe a slight sigh of relief after the team looked noticeably less incompetent against Tampa last Thursday. While there is still ample room for improvement in nearly every facet of their defensive game, it was a necessary step in the right direction, especially with tough matchups against the Falcons and Broncos looming on the schedule over the next couple of weeks.
While the Patriots hold their breath regarding the health of tight end Gronkowski, they got a large boost with the return of the best special teams coverage man in the NFL, Matthew Slater, whose effects on and the off field continue to provide a great impact in New England. Slater has made the Pro Bowl the last six seasons in a row, earned First Team All-Pro honors in four of the last six seasons and was also this years recipient of the Bart Starr Man of the Year Award which is given annually to the NFL player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community. For a league that continually markets and promotes players who have committed deplorable acts of violence (Terrell Suggs, Tyreek Hill, Ben Roethlisberger, etc) or attempts to cover up their criminal activity to soften the blow to the leagues image (Ray Rice), its always a good sign to see players of Slaters character honored. despite the NFL being run by a megalomaniac despot who is pointing the NFL down a path similar to what Isiah Thomas did to the CBA almost twenty years ago.
New England may hold a significantly better record against the Jets in recent years, but looks can sometimes be a bit deceiving, especially when taking into consideration the nine point spread for this weeks matchup. Eight of the last ten games between the two teams have been decided by just one score and they have split the last four played away from Foxboro, all of which were won by less than five points with two of those games ending in overtime. The Jets have also been a lively home underdog of late in general, having gone 14-3 in their last seventeen matchups at MetLife against the spread in which they were dogs by 3.5-10 points. While all that may be true, there is still no doubt I am picking New England this week. They will have had three extra days to prepare for a Jets team that has been able to over achieve thus far against lackluster competition, but will be hard pressed to continue that recent success considering their injury depleted backfield hurting an already tepid offense that yet to clear 23 points in a game on the season and now will be attempting to match points with a Patriots offense that ranks first in the NFL in yards per game and passing while also coming in at third in scoring. New England is 11-0 straight up and 10-1 against the spread in their last 11 road matchups, and will continue that success with an easy win and cover against an overmatched Jets squad on Sunday in Bon Jersey.
Mike Ms Pick to Cover the Point Spread: New England -9. Bet your prediction for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% bonus at MyBookie.