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JETS AT PATRIOTS - 2007 NFL PLAYOFFS

WILDCARD GAME

Now this is a playoff game. A game that matches two teams that did NOT back into the playoffs. The Jets and Pats both deserve to be here. Sure, you'll find some who will say the Jets played a soft schedule down the stretch. But hey, It is what it is. It's an NFL schedule against NFL teams. The Jets won 10 games and the Pats won 12, and BOTH teams are hot at just the right time. The Jets closed with winning 5 out of the last 6 and were one of the few teams to win when they had to to get here. The Pats, who many questioned early on this year, won 6 of the last 7 and are once again a fixture in the AFC playoffs.

Any analysis of a playoff game involving the New England Patriots has to acknowledge what the Patriots have done in the post season over the years. We're talking about a team and coach with a QB that has won 10 of 11 playoff games. Three Super Bowls. That's impressive folks. The regular season and the playoffs are two different animals. The experience and success these Pats have had in the post season can't be overlooked. It's a major task for any NFL team to have to travel to New England in January and attempt to come out with a win, regardless of what happened in the regular season.

But the New York Jets are not exactly green (no pun intended) when it comes to playoff experience, particularly at two key positions on the team, Coach and Quarterback. We all know that Mangini has been along for the ride with Belichick, but what about Chad Pennington? Not much has been said about his playoff experience but the Jets QB is no stranger to the post season and has been involved in some thrilling playoff games. Rewind to the 2003 season and you'll find Pennington and the Jets bouncing Payton Manning and the Colts out of the playoffs with a 41-0 rout in the Wild Card game, only to be bounced out of the playoffs themselves by the Raiders the following week 30-10. Then move on to the 2005 season and you'll find Pennington and the Jets in another Wild Card game out in San Diego winning a thrilling 20-17 overtime game. The following week they traveled to Pittsburgh to take on rookie QB big Ben and the Steelers and once again take the game into overtime only to lose 20-17. That's two playoff wins and an overtime loss, mixed in with one bad showing against the Raiders. Not too shabby. In case no one noticed, Pennington is a winner. The point being, it's not as if we have some rookie QB coming into New England to take on the big bad playoff experienced Pats. Pennington won't be in awe of his surroundings Sunday afternoon. He'll come to play.

On to the game......

We can't pass up +8.5 on the Jets here. There's one school of thought on this game that has the Pats taking over in the 2nd half and winning comfortably. It's certainly a valid scenario. Tough to find fault in the Patriots. The other school of thought, and the one we're going with, is that the Jets will not quit, and will be a thorn in the Pats side all afternoon right up until the final tick of the clock.

Let's take a look at the Pats home games this year.

NE 19  BUFF 17 - 2 point win

NE 7   DEN 17 - 10 point loss

NE 20  MIA 10 - 10 point win

NE 20 INDY 27 - 7 point loss

NE 14 JETS 17 - 3 point loss

NE 17  CHI 13 - 4 point win

NE 28  DET 21 - 7 point win

NE 40 HOU 7 - Blow out city

That's hardly a scary resume. Ok, so they blew out the Houston Texans 40-7. But the only other game they won by more than a touchdown was the 20-10 win over the Dolphins and that game was 13-10 into the 4th quarter. So if the Pats had to lay -8.5 in all of their home games, they would have gone 2-6 against the number. (Actually, they were 2-6 against the number as it was)

How about the Jets on the road? If you gave the Jets +8.5 points in each of their 8 road games they would have gone 7-1 against the number with the lone loss being the one game they didn't show up for all year, a 41-0 blow out at the hands of the Jags. Heck, forget the spread, the Jets went 6-2 on the road straight up this year while the Pats were 5-3 at home. That's right, the Jets won more road games than the Pats won home games!

Both teams played well down the stretch. The final six games of the year saw the Pats win by an average margin of 25-18 while the Jets were winning by an average of 23-13.

Yards Per Point numbers over the last 6 games -

Jets Off 14.5 and Def 22.6 for a +8.1

Pats Off 12.8 and Def 17.6 for a +4.8

Add a field goal for home field for the Pats and the Yards Per Point line for this game using the last 6 games of the season is Pick em. If you want to take the entire season into account for a yard per point number, the Pats would be -6.5 which still gives you a couple of points wiggle room with the all important key number of 7 in the middle.

To sum it up, we have a playoff game this Sunday afternoon between two well coached teams with steady quarterback play on both sides, all of whom have playoff success to their credit. Both teams have been hot at just the right time and neither team shows any sign of having an ounce of quit in them. Taking a look at the Pats home performance, the Jets road performance, and both teams final six game stretch drives gives us every indication that this game will be close heading into the 4th quarter. If we're right, we'll feel pretty good about our position on the Jets +8.5 or 9 points.

OUR PICK - NY JETS +8.5  (5*)

NFL PLAYOFF RATINGS

1* Opinion only

3* Regular play

5* Best Bet

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