The NFL standings suggest the Jets (2-6) are a bad team. The statistical rankings make the same claim, as the Jets rate 27th in points scored per game, 24th in yards gained per game, 32nd in points allowed per game and 32nd in yards allowed per game.
But as the Jets get ready to take the field Sunday against the Bills at MetLife Stadium, allow me to challenge the notion this is “one bad team.” Rather, the Jets could be two teams — one that’s been horrendous on the road and one that’s been pretty good at home.
Let’s look at those statistical categories again, focusing only on where the Jets rank in home games. Their record is 2-1. Their 22.3 points per game ranks 15th and 400.7 yards per game ranks seventh. Their 26.7 points allowed per game jumps to 23rd and 336 yards allowed per game is ninth.
It makes sense. The Jets are a very young team with first-timers at head coach, both coordinators and quarterback. They have not been able to handle the onslaughts on the road, but at home these kids have been able to rally around small successes against the Titans and Bengals, and turn them into big wins.
The Titans game came after a desultory 26-0 loss at Denver. The Bengals victory came after the 54-13 debacle at New England. Last week, the Jets’ defense was embarrassingly invisible in a 45-30 loss at Indianapolis. These are the same guys who had 10 sacks and a goal line stand against Ryan Tannehill and Joe Burrow.
Yes, the Bills have solid statistics on the road and will be coming in angry off a 9-6 loss at Jacksonville. They are 5-3 but still are 6/1 co-favorites with the Buccaneers to win Super Bowl LVI, and they’ve had many soul-crushing victories over the Jets.
I’m going to take the near-two-touchdown head start with Mike White competently running an offense that does have speed and some big-play ability. Also figuring the defense plays its “home game.”
The pick: Jets, +13.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (-10.5) over Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags won a strange, touchdown-less game against the Bills, but have been beaten by double digits five times this season. Trevor Lawrence could be hindered some by his ankle, and the Colts had a few extra days of rest off their Thursday game.
Cleveland Browns (+2) over NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Not going to worry about the Nick Chubb-Demetric Felton COVID-19 uncertainty, because D’Ernest Johnson is available. But if the Patriots are to be without top backs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, that changes the normal equation for Mac Jones.
Atlanta Falcons (+9.5) over DALLAS COWBOYS
It’s easy to chalk up the Cowboys’ no-show loss versus Denver to a rusty return by Dak Prescott. But what about the defense? Matt Ryan, Cordarrelle Patterson and company are 4-1 SU in road and neutral-site games this season, so I’m happy to grab them with a bushel of points.
New Orleans Saints (+3) over TENNESSEE TITANS
Tennessee has taken down the Bills, Chiefs, Colts and Rams in succession, all as underdogs. This doesn’t happen in the NFL very often, and the long trip off the Sunday night game could leave the Titans ripe for a Saints uprising.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9.5) over WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
Concerned about the big number because Taylor Heinicke had a solid game against the Bucs in last year’s playoffs, a 31-23 loss that covered +10 and would cover here. But a refreshed Tom Brady should be able to have his way with an overrated WFT defense.
Detroit Lions (+8.5) over PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Lions are the NFL’s only winless team at 0-8, but they are 4-4 ATS with covers over the likes of the Ravens and Rams. The Steelers have a quick turnaround off the Monday night game, in which they got every call imaginable from Tony “Hip Check” Corrente’s crew and just got by the Bears.
Minnesota Vikings (+3.5) over LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Tough back-to-back road turnaround for the Vikings, who had the Ravens down big last week and gave it up. They’ve scored 30-plus points four times to the Chargers’ two. And five games for each team have been decided by five or fewer points, so even this modest spread could end up mattering.
Carolina Panthers (+10) over ARIZONA CARDINALS
Cam Newton won’t play Sunday, but his signing should energize the Panthers. This team has been uneven, but isn’t one you’d expect to see as a double-digit ’dog. This season, their largest underdog spread has been 4.5 points at Dallas.
Seattle Seahawks (+3.5) over GREEN BAY PACKERS
Aaron Rodgers versus Russell Wilson is certainly a better show than Jordan Love versus Geno Smith. The Seahawks developed a nice running game in Wilson’s absence. DangeRuss has had practice time, while Rodgers won’t step on a field until Saturday.
Philadelphia Eagles (+3) over DENVER BRONCOS
Tough call at this price, but siding with the Eagles, who have hit the 20 mark in all but one game, while the Broncos have scored 19 or fewer four times.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (+2.5) over Kansas City Chiefs
K.C.’s year-and-a half ATS nightmare continued in a narrow win over the Rodgers-less Packers in a tough watch. Looking for a big day from Maxx Crosby against a banged-up Chiefs O-line.
Los Angeles Rams (-4) over SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
I admit this reasoning is ultra-square, but this is a pride game for the Rams after their thumping by the Titans. The 49ers are past that point. They lost by two TDs to the depleted Cardinals and now are 1-5 both SU and ATS in their past six.
Best bets: Seahawks, Browns, Raiders
Lock of the week: Browns (Locks 5-3 in 2021)
Last week: 3-11 overall, 0-3 Best Bets
Thursday: Dolphins (W)
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