NFL Odds: Patriots vs. Jets
The New York Jets and New England Patriots are a combined 2-13 straight up and 4-11 against the spread this season. Where’s the value in this Monday Night snoozefest?
Let’s take a closer look.
New England Patriots
Once upon a time — for many, many years — the Patriots were a good football team.
The Pats enter Monday night at 2-5 and rank 26th in overall efficiency according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA (24th on offense, 27th on defense).
Cam Newton has now lost 12 of his last 14 starts dating back to 2018. Newton’s passing stats — 190.5 yards per game, two touchdowns and seven interceptions — resemble that of a guy who was on his couch for most of the summer. At least his interception ratio is better than Bill Belichick’s rate of hits/misses at identifying wide receiver talent.
2019 undrafted free agent Jakobi Meyers has been the team’s best receiver, but for some reason he was playing behind Damiere Byrd and N’Keal Harry all season. With Julian Edelman (knee) out and Harry and Byrd failing to be difference-makers, things have gotten so dire that Belichick is now poaching offensive “talent” from the Dolphins, acquiring Isaiah Ford from his old pal Brian Flores in exchange for a conditional 2022 sixth-round pick. Unfortunately, Ford has to go through COVID-19 protocols and will join Edelman and Harry (concussion) on the sidelines for this contest.
This has left Belichick with no choice but to run Newton into the ground. At age 31, Newton is averaging the most rushing attempts per game of his career (9.8). It’s working too well to stray from, as the Patriots rank fifth in rushing DVOA and Newton is averaging 5.1 yards per carry and a career-high 1.0 rushing touchdowns per game.
That top-five rushing efficiency is also due in part to second-year running back Damien Harris (knee, questionable), who is averaging 5.7 yards per carry on 12.3 attempts per game. Harris is fully expected to suit up despite his injury designation.
Even with the Pats boasting a tandem of rushers in Newton and Harris who combine to average five or more yards per carry on high volume, this is a strength-on-strength matchup, as the Jets rank 10th in both yards per carry allowed (4.1) and run-defense DVOA (-17.3%).
New York Jets
The Jets have not scored more than 10 points in any of their last four games. They rank last in yards per play (4.2) by nearly a half-yard more than the next-worst team. They’ve topped 285 total yards only once (the league average is 361.9). And they’re dead last in third-down offense (28.0%) and red-zone offense (28.0%).
The good news for the Jets is they are slated to get Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman back, who along with rookie Denzel Mims, should give the Jets something resembling a professional receiving corps. The bad news is that starting quarterback Sam Darnold (shoulder) is doubtful and backup Joe Flacco has completed only 51.9% of his 79 pass attempts this season.
Stephon Gilmore (knee) will miss this game, but the Pats still pressure the quarterback at the fifth-highest rate (26.5%) and according to Pro Football Focus, Flacco is completing just 40% of his passes under pressure.
I would expect the game plan to center around exploiting a New England run defense that ranks 30th in DVOA. The Jets don’t have much to speak of there either — they rank 29th in rushing DVOA, but at least it’s not 32nd like their pass offense.
Running back Ty Johnson has flashed in limited opportunities (6/57/9.5/0), but Frank Gore (3.5 yards per carry) and La’Mical Perine (3.6) remain the backfield leaders.
I bet this line at Pats -7 (-120) but am in line with the market at -10. The value now is on the total, which is still sitting at 41.5, two and a half points higher than my projection of 39.
According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots offense runs at a glacial pace of 36.00 seconds per play with a lead of seven or more points, which ranks 31st in the NFL. However, only five teams have spent less time with a lead in 2020 than the Pats, which is likely to regress in a matchup against the league’s worst team.
Odds are that we see a slow-paced, run-heavy slog of a game from the Pats. The Patriots run the ball 50.1% of the time (second-highest) and aren’t likely to stray from that formula despite the Jets’ strength on defense being against the run, which sets up perfectly for the under.
The Jets go slower than average when trailing by seven or more points (25.57 seconds per play; 19th), and since Adam Gase became the head coach, Jets unders are 10-5-1 in East Rutherford, falling short by an average of 4.1 points per game, according to our Action Labs data. I would bet the under down to 40.
PICK: Under 41.5