This Week: 9-1-1
All-Time Results: 50-43-1, +9.84 Units
New York Jets +9.5 vs New England Patriots (+100)-.1 Unit
New York Jets +3.5 vs New England Patriots (+205)-.1 Unit
The New York Jets looked like an entirely different beast in their upset win over the Dallas Cowboys last week. With their 2018 1st round draft pick, Sam Darnold back under center, the Jets scored more touchdowns in the 1st quarter (1) than they had throughout his entire Mono-induced three-game absence (0). New York scored a total of 9 points of offense in three games without Darnold. They scored 21 in the first half with him back, including a 92-yard catch & run from Darnold to Robbie Anderson. Again, Anderson had only 108 yards in the previous three games playing with backup QBs.
More than simply being far more talented than his backups, Darnold inspires an entirely different purpose for the Jets. With Luke Faulk at the helm, the Jets restricted their playbook to its most basic concepts. The theory, which I first heard from Fox Sports Host, Colin Cowherd goes like this: the Jets didn’t have the talent to attack opposing offenses effectively. So instead of trying, they kept everything “vanilla” and focused on player evaluation. Kind of like those fake phones you give toddlers. They can’t call anybody, but you feel a certain sense of satisfaction anyway if your kid is able to least hold it to his ear and press the little buttons like a big boy. With Darnold back, the Jets coaching staff can include wrinkles and dynamics worthy of a professional football team actually competing.
Entering the season, the Vegas market had priced the Jets just slightly worse than an average team, with an expected Win Total of 7.5 games. In Week 1, they blew a 16-point lead in a fourth-quarter collapse against a Bills team that has gone on to win 4 of their next 5.
If we simply threw out the “Luke-Faulk-Data” the Jets have met or surpassed pre-season expectations, playing two probable playoff teams just about even in the Bills and the Cowboys, with a net margin of +1 over the two games.
In addition to Darnold, the Jets expect their best linebacker, C.J. Mosely to be back in action for Monday night.
Conversely, while the Patriots have cruised through the first half of the season, they will have less firepower tonight than in any game so far this season. Antonio Brown is gone. Gronk is on Fox. Josh Gordan and starting TE Matt LaCosse are both out. Two opening-day starting offensive lineman are an IR. And not to be forgotten leading WRs, Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett are both banged up and listed as questionable for Monday’s game.
Tom Brady posted an average QBR of 86.3 over his first three games, placing in the 86th percentile of all QBs. Over the Pats next three games, Brady averaged only a 34 QBR, placing him in the 34th percentile. Has his play dropped off because age has FINALLY caught up with him? Or, if it has more to do with the injuries on his line and skill positions? While I lean toward the latter, the answer is really irrelevant. The fact is the Patriots offense has been trending sharply down – and the Jets defense will be as good a defense as they have faced since the Bills held their offense check for four quarters. Brady and Belichick do not prioritize immediate fixes – but want to be rounding into form late in the season.
New York Jets +4.5 @ Jacksonville Jaguars – .5 Units
Freeroll here. If the Jets are revitalized with Sam Darnold back and play closer to their pre-season expectations going forward, then this spread has solid value here on New York. Even if the Jets are just as bad as they have displayed without Darnold, then we still have a fair bet, against a Jaguars team with a poor Home Field Advantage and a struggling quarterback.
If the Jets – as I expect – give the Patriots a true fight tonight in Prime Time, this line might quickly find its way back to +3 or even +2.5, where I have the game power rated. Such a line move would open up a solid middle.
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