New York Jets (2-2 SU, 3-1 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS)
NFL Week 5
Date and Time: Monday Night Football, October 7th, 2014, 8:40 pm EST
Where: Georgia Dome. Atlanta, Ga.
TV: ESPN/DirecTV 206
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NYJ +9.5/Atl. -9.5
Over/Under Total: 43.5
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There was plenty of shock all around on Monday when the Atlanta
Falcons woke up with a 1-3 record, but the Falcons will try and
get the ship straightened with an extra day to prep when they host the New
York Jets and rookie quarterback Geno Smith in the Georgia Dome
on ESPNs primetime Monday Night Football in week five.
The Falcons find themselves on the bottom looking up thanks in part to Sunday nights loss to Tom Brady and the Patriots, 30-23. The mini two-game losing streak the Falcons find themselves is not the end of the world, but with a bye coming up in week six the last thing Atlanta wants to do is go into the break off a stinker in primetime.
On paper the Jets are sitting in a nice position at 2-2, but last weeks, 38-13, loss on the road to Tennessee may have exposed some of the Jets warts. Smith had four more turnovers and is looking more and more like a rookie every week, and with a tough stretch of schedule before their own bye week (Pitt., NE, Cinn. and NO) theres no time for Smith and the Jets to try and catch their collective breaths.
The folks out in Las Vegas are expecting Smith and the Jets to be in over their heads a little in the primetime lights on Monday Night Football, setting the opening point spread with the Falcons as 9.5-pont favorites. The early money has been on Atlanta too, cause a few sportsbooks to move the number up to minus -10 or -10.5 with a little extra juice.
The over/under total opened at 44 and has dropped the hook to 43.5 at a few books already by mid-week.
Without a healthy Steven Jackson, who the Falcons had such high hopes for coming into the season, the Dirty Birds running game has struggled. Jacquizz Rodgers is not as effective as an every-down back, and just 82 yards a game (23rd) is not what the Falcons envisioned in order to take pressure off of Matt Ryan. Plus, Ryans security blanket Tony Gonzales will continue to draw double teams versus the Jets (and the rest of the league for that matter) this week, so someone else will have to step up against a Jets defense thats top-10 in multiple categories in the league.
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The story for the Jets on offense is turnovers. As you would expect, the rookie Smith has more interceptions (8) and almost as many fumbles (3) as touchdown throws (4), so the learning curve has been steep. However, with the Jets confirming that Mark Sanchez would have shoulder surgery this week, maybe a little bit of the pressure Smith has been feeling will dissipate and the Jets can find a way to have success against a Falcons defense thats been gouged by the pass (301 ypg. 26th). The Falcons played without corner Asante Samuel last week and Brady took advantage of Desmond Trufant in his place, something the Jets will see on film this week.
Atlanta has won two in a row against the Jets over the years, and four of the last five going back to 1992. The Falcons are 3-1 SU and 2-0-1 ATS at home in the head-to-head series as well, with the only loss and non-cover coming in the same game back in 1986.
The under is a strong betting trend play, going 5-1 in the last six head-to-head, and 4-1 in the Jets last five road games.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting the Jets plus the points.