New York Jets (8-5 SU, 7-5-1 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (4-9 SU, 4-9 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date/Time: December 19th, 8:25 PM E
Where: AT&T Stadium
by Jeff Hochman, Professional Handicapper, jhsportsline.com
Point Spread: NYJ -3/ DALL +3
At 4-9, the Dallas Cowboys are still mathematically alive in the NFC East race. We all know the Cowboys have no shot considering their dire quarterback situation. Jerry Jones counted on Tony Romo staying healthy all season and that’s big a big reason why the Cowboys are headed for a Top 12 draft pick. I correctly predicted on these pages last week that the Packers would win and cover the 7-point spread. How easy was that! Dallas looked lost on both sides of the ball as head coach Jason Garrett is getting out-coached weekly. The Cowboys allowed Eddie Lacy and James Starks to rush for 195 yards on 35 carries with two touchdowns. Green Bay outgained Dallas by 165 yards and the Packers thrived in the sloppy weather. The New York Jets have won three in a row after defeating the Titans 30-8 as 8-point home chalk. The Jets outgained Tennessee by 147 yards and the Titans tackling was atrocious. Some of the worst I’ve seen all year from any team. Todd Bowles has done a nice job with Ryan Fitzpatrick in his first season with the Jets. The Harvard graduate is having a fine season, throwing for 3,129 yards with 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He’s completing 60% of his passes and his quarterback rating is 89.8, which would be the second-best rating of his career. His favorite target is Brandon Marshall, who at 6’4″ causes major matchup problems for opposing corners. Marshall has racked up 1,187 receiving yards on 89 receptions. He’s averaging 13.3 yards per catch and has scored 11 touchdowns.
Chris Ivory could have a monster game and needs just 86 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the season. The Cowboys are allowing 113.8 rushing yards per game, which ranks in the bottom half of the league. They’ve allowed 13 rushing touchdowns, fourth-most in the NFL. Dallas is currently ranked 21st in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards Against (which assigns credit in the running game based on a percentage of yards gained on each run), 30th in Power Success (the percentage of time that on 3rd or 4th down with two or fewer yards to go, a team allows a conversion for a First-down or more), and 27th in 2nd Level Yards per attempt (yards gained per by run between 5 and 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage). Those numbers highlight the issues at every level of the Cowboys’ run defense. The Jets are ranked 2nd in Adjusted Line Yards Against, 2nd in Power Success, and 8th in 2nd Level Yards. The Jets do two things that will win most games, running the ball efficiently (118 per game) and stuffing the run. The Jets are allowing just 78.9 rushing yards per game.
The Cowboys’ defense has gotten progressively worse as we move into the final three weeks of the regular season. Blame awful QB play as the Cowboys’ defense has been on the field a bunch more minutes than last season. It hasn’t been all bad news though. The Cowboys’ defense has allowed the fourth-fewest passing yards in the league this season, but they have also faced the seventh-fewest number of pass attempts thanks in part to their ball control offense, and the fact teams know they can run on Dallas with ease. All of Cowboys’ nation should have a new-found respect for what Tony Romo brings to table as opposed to the combination of Brandon Weeden (who isn’t on the team anymore) and Matt Cassel. Matt is not even a game manager at this point of his career. He can’t make all the throws and seems to rush when facing a blitz. That should play right into what the Jets like to do on defense. In 7 starts this season, Cassel has thrown for 1,239 yards on 59% completions. He’s thrown 5 touchdowns and six interceptions. His quarterback rating of 73.5 is not good, and his 6.32 yards per attempt puts a lot of pressure on the running game.
The Jets are ranked 10th in points per game, 9th in yards per game, 12th in passing yards per game, and 12th in rushing yards per game. Great balance across the board. On the flip side, the Cowboys are ranked 30th in points per game, 28th in yards per game, 29th in passing yards per game, and 11th in rushing yards per game. This is a passing league and teams that struggle to gain yards through the air will have a hard time winning on a consistent basis. The rules in the NFL are skewed so that teams with a good passing attack will be successful. Even without Tony Romo, the Cowboys should be putting up bigger passing stats. Dez Bryant, who is considered of the best at his position, doesn’t look right or he’s just not on the same page with Cassel, or a combination of both. Dez caught one ball for nine yards in last week’s lost against Green Bay. Two weeks ago, the Redskins held Bryant to three receptions for 62 yards. After scoring 16 touchdowns in 2014, Dez has just two this season. Ugly!
The Jets turnover differential is plus +5 while the Cowboys check in with a minus -15, which ranks last in all of football. The Cowboys are 1-5 SU and 1-5 ATS at home this season. The Jets are clearly the better team. I believe the “wise guys” and public will be on the Jets as 79% of offshore bets are coming in on the road team. The public and “sharps” won big with the Patriots on Sunday Night. I would expect this line to go up in the very near future, so if you like the Jets than get down ASAP.
Jeff’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:New York Jets -3
The Jets are currently tied for a Wild Card birth with the Steelers and Chiefs. No letdown in this spot, especially since the Patriots and Bills wait on deck. The favorite is 10-1 in the last 11 Cowboy games. More of the same.
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