New York Jets (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (5-0 SU, 3-1-1 ATS)
Pro Football Week 7
Date/Time: Sunday, October 25th, 1:00PM EST
Where: Foxboro Stadium
By Mike M., NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NYJ +9 / NE -9
Over/Under Total: 48
First place in the AFC East will be on the line in Foxboro this weekend when the Jets and Patriots battle it out in what looks to be the highlight game of the Sunday afternoon slate of NFL matchups. New England has dominated the rivalry in recent years, winning seven of the last eight against the Jets while New York has had similar success against the spread, having covered the last four games amongst the two squads which the Patriots have won by just a combined nine points.
Gang Green enters the game with the number one defense in the NFL, giving up the least amount of points per game (15.0) and yards per game (269.2) than any other team in the league. They boast a strong defensive line highlighted by rookie Leonard Williams and the behavioral-troubled Sheldon Richardson, tackle machine David Harris leading the linebackers and a defensive backfield that has arguably the best cornerback duo in football this year, Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
While the defense gets most of the attention, three members of the offense have started the year off in a strong way. Running back Chris Ivory leads the NFL in rushing yards per game with 115 and is third in the NFL in yards (460) despite playing in one less game then all other players at the top of the list. In the last two games Ivory has particular shined, pounding out 312 yards on the ground while scoring a touchdown in each. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker lead the wide receiving corps and have accounted for eight of the teams nine touchdowns through the air. Decker has caught a touchdown in all four games he has played this year while Marshall has at least seven catches and over 100 yards in each of his past four games and seems to have regained his superstar wide receiver status after a down year in 2014 when playing for Chicago. The offense will need more consistent play from Ryan Fitzpatrick though, who has performed well enough for the team to succeed since replacing Geno Smith at quarterback but has struggled with turnovers, throwing at least one interception in all five games so far including three in their lone loss of the season suffered against Philadelphia.
The Jets will be without wide receiver Quincy Enuway, who played in over 70% of the teams offensive snaps last week, as he becomes the third player to be suspended this year for the team and will miss four games due to a summertime arrest for domestic violence. Enuway joins Oday Aboushi, who missed one game for violating the leagues personal conduct and Sheldon Richardson, who returned last week from a four game suspension for failing multiple drug tests. Two weeks after the failed test that led to his suspension back, Richardson compounded his mistake by getting arrested after leading police on a chase that was clocked at speeds up to 143 MPH and then trying to evade the police by turning off his lights and pulling into a driveway that wasnt his and attempting to hide. The only issue with Richardsons plan of stealth was that his brake lights were still visible and the pursuing officer easily spotted the car. The policeman then had to force the cars occupants out of the vehicle because Richardson was trying to get at something under the drivers seat, which turned out to be a loaded semi-automatic handgun. The icing on the cake of the story was that the gun was somehow not the most troubling thing found in the car, as a 12 year old child was one of Richardsons passengers that was along for the Cloak & Dagger funtime.
The Jets catch the Patriots coming off an emotional 34-27 road win against the Colts that extends their undefeated record to 5-0, the best start the team has had since 2007. New England boasts the NFLs number one offense in points per game with 36.6 and is second overall in yards per game with 433. Their success is thanks in large part to quarterback Tom Brady, who has thrown fourteen touchdowns so far this year with just one interception, which happened last week against Indy when wide receiver Julian Edelman bobbled a well-thrown ball that the Colts were able to pick off and return for a touchdown. Along with the 14-1 TD/INT ratio, Brady has thrown for 1,699 yards in five games while completing over 70% of his passes. The Pats signal caller has also been very successful throughout his career against the Jets, posting a 20-6 record while throwing for 36 touchdowns compared to just twelve interceptions.
Brady will hope to get Rob Gronkowski more involved in the teams offense as the monster tight end has been limited to just eleven catches and one touchdown over his last three games as Patriot opponents have been double or even triple teaming him on plays to keep him from wreaking havoc. While this strategy has restricted Gronkowskis production, it has opened the field up even more so for wide receiver Julian Edelman who already has 40 catches this season that has led to 449 yards receiving and four touchdowns. And while the passing the game gets most of the attention, the Patriots dual-headed backfield of the bruising LeGarrette Blount and shifty Dion Lewis cannot be ignored. Blount and Lewis have both averaged over five yards per carry in 2015 and each have also scored touchdowns on the ground and through the air for a total of eight amongst the two of them. They will certainly have their work cut out for them against a Jets D that has only let up one rushing touchdown this season.
Defensively the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick have historically strategized to try and take the opposing teams best offensive weapon out of the game and it will be interesting to see this weekend who they strive to stop more, Jets running back Chris Ivory or their prolific wide receiver Brandon Marshall. The New England defense ranks just 22nd against the rush and 16th against the pass, though some of the additional yards let up in the air where at the end of the games when they had already built a lead and were playing a more relaxed version of their usual bend dont break defense. Their front seven is led by defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Jamie Collins and they will need to step up and cause difficulty for Fitzpatrick and the Jets to alleviate some of the pressure that will be put on their inexperienced defensive backfield, who will be sure to have their hands full in attempting to cover Marshall and Decker and limit the damage caused by the wide receiver tandem.
While the Patriots have gotten the victories of late the Jets have been the victors against the spread, and with the line for this game hovering around 9 its looking like New York could be getting a double-digit head start by game time. New England has gone 3-1-1 against the spread this year, with their only non-covers coming against Pittsburgh in week one because of a meaningless Steeler touchdown with just two seconds left and last week against the Colts when Indy scored with just over a minute left to cut the lead to seven and in turn cover the line. They will surely be tested this week against a Jets team that is playing far better under first year head coach Todd Bowles then they have any time in recent history and pose matchup difficulty for New England, whether its planning against the Jets multi-pronged offensive attack or strategizing a game plan to take on New Yorks dominant defense. While I do expect this weeks matchup to follow remain close throughout, Belichick and the Patriots have been exceptional this season at making in-game adjustments to counter what is succeeding in their opponents plan of attack and should do enough late to get a home win and cover against the Jets.
Mikes Pick to Cover the Point Spread: New England -9
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