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Jets vs. Patriots
NFL Divisional Playoffs
Betting Line: Patriots -8.5 o/u 44.5
Rex Ryan's Jets, complete with a bad attitude and a chip on their shoulder come rolling into Foxboro Mass on Sunday night to take on Tom Brady and the Patriots in hopes of gaining some revenge for a 45-3 beating a month ago and advancing to the AFC Championship game for the 2nd year in a row. The Patriots opened as a -9 point favorite and currently sit at -8.5 with the action fairly balanced thus far. The total is 45.
Let's first make a case for the Jets. The Jets are playing their best football of the season right now. After these Patriots destroyed them on Monday night back in December, followed by a poor performance in a home loss to Miami, the Jets took on three playoff teams in the Steelers, Bears and Colts and came away with a 2-1 record, all games being on the road.
The Jets have won 12 games this year. They earned the right to be here. The Jets won quite a few close games this year and even their losses, with the exception of the Pats loss, were close. They are playing with a high confidence level which should be boosted by the fact that they beat the Pats once this season, by two touchdowns.
Making a case for the Pats isn't hard. They won 14 games this year, 10 by more than a touchdown. Personally, this handicapper is tired of the Pats. I like to see new faces in the big dance every year. But you simply can't ignore what this team has done. Just when you think they are dead in the water, when you think they are getting old, losing players, they make a few moves, a trade here, a draft pick there, and the train continues to roll. You have to give all the credit in the world to Bill Belichick. You also have to give credit to Brady. There's never been a "dynasty" in the NFL without a great QB. Brady is a great QB.
Last week we had a key release on the Jets, on the money line. However, the play was just as much a play against the Colts, as it was a play on the Jets. In other words, it was a game between two mediocre teams. It was a good spot for the Jets, against a Peyton Manning Colts team that was severely limited as far as talent, with the exception of Manning, mostly due to injuries.
No such problem for the Patriots. They are rested. They are healthy, and they too, are playing some of their best football of the year right now. We can see how the Jets would be an attractive underdog to some. However, the bottom line for us is that we don't play underdogs in the NFL unless we think they can win the game outright. We don't think the Jets can win this game.
No matter how you break up the Jets season, whether you look at early in the
year, the last 5 or 6 games, or somewhere in the middle, the numbers they put up
are mediocre. Their yards per point numbers are generally around 15 on offense
and 14 or 15 on defense. There are plenty of teams that didn't even make the
playoffs with numbers like that.
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Meanwhile, the Patriots numbers are very good. Whether you look at their home numbers, their away numbers, their recent numbers, they are all pretty consistent. You'll find the Pats with an 11 on offense, the best of all playoff teams, and a 19 on defense, which puts them right there with teams like the Ravens, Steelers, Packers and Falcons.
The traditional stats most media outlets report can be misleading. For example, the Patriots pass defense is 30th in the NFL. But you have to remember, they generally have games in hand by the 3rd quarter with a comfortable lead. Teams throw the ball to catch up. The Pats give them the short stuff. But they keep teams out of the end zone which is all that matters.
Oh, and we always like to mention turnover margin. That Jets are +8. Pretty good. The Patriots are +28. Unbelievable. Can't recall ever seeing an NFL team +28. Or any football team for that matter.
Something else that works in the Pats favor in a big way is last years Ravens playoff game. They caught the Pats sleeping. The Pats were flat and the game was over by halftime. You can be sure the Jets will have the Pats undivided attention this weekend.
The feeling here is that the Patriots cover this number. The Jets will keep it close most of the way. Their game plan will be to keep it close to give themselves a shot late in the game. A 7-10 point Patriot lead heading into the 4th quarter sounds about right, but in that scenario, as the Jets get desperate and try to make things happen, that's where the margin can get extended even further, ie. a pick, or getting stopped in their own territory on a 4th down, etc.
We're not going to lay this number, so we'll make it a lean towards the Pats -8.5. However, we think Patriots would be a fantastic play within a teaser, bringing them down to -2.5 or even -1.5 as we just don't see them losing this game.