The New York Jets host the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football this week.
Wes Reynolds and Dave Tuley preview the game and break down their best bets.
New England Patriots (-9.5, 42.5) at New York Jets
Reynolds: The Patriots (2-5 SU; 3-4 ATS) are still trying to adjust to life after Tom Brady and are finding it to be even more of a challenge than expected. It looked as if the Patriots were going to turn their season around last week in Buffalo, but Cam Newton fumbled at the Buffalo Bills’ 5-yard line as New England was driving for the winning score.
Bill Belichick and company now find themselves in a position to which they are not accustomed – 3.5 games out of first place in the AFC East standings. Plus, they are amid a four-game losing streak. What is the best way to end that losing streak? Play the New York Jets.
The Jets (0-8 SU; 1-7 ATS) are the lone winless team in the NFL and are losing their games by an average of 18 ppg. Last weekend, they were 20-point underdogs in Kansas City and still could not find a way to cover the number.
The Jets rank dead last in the league in total offense (259 ypg) and scoring offense (11.8 ppg), which is more than 30 yards and greater than six points worst than the team that ranks second to last — the Giants. Now, the Jets find themselves as 10-point underdogs with the news that Joe Flacco will start in place of Sam Darnold (shoulder) on “Monday Night Football.”
New England has struggled offensively, as well, considering it ranks 29th in the league in scoring (19.4 ppg) and has averaged only 12.3 ppg over its last four games.
With both teams having trouble putting points on the board, it is no surprise Monday night’s total of 40.5 is the lowest on the NFL Week 9 betting board. The Under is also 7-1 in the last eight meetings between these two squads. New England is 4-1 to the Under in its last five games, and the Jets are 5-0 to the Under in their last five spots in the underdog role.
Despite the strong trends, the number has not moved much all week. The spot looks like a dead Under, but it is a prime-time game, so it would not be a surprise to see the Over get some support closer to game time.
The line opened at New England -7.5 and stuck there most of the week until Saturday, when Adam Gase announced Darnold would not start, and then the money came in on the injury news, driving it upwards to -9.5 or -10. New England is getting around close to 4-to-1 on the ticket count and near 5-to-1 on the money count as both professional and casual bettors will continue to fade the Jets until given reason not to do so.
The Jets are not popular at the betting windows nor at various football contests including the Circa Sports Million. They were the third-least selected team behind only the Cowboys, who started journeyman Garrett Gilbert in his first career start on Sunday, and the Jaguars, who started rookie Jake Luton yesterday. The Jets at 10 seems to be the buy number for bettors who are brave enough to take them, which you have to be considering they could not stay within the biggest point spread thus far in the NFL season. However, laying double digits with the Patriots would not be a riskless proposition, considering they have very few playmakers at receiver with the injuries to N’Keal Harry and Julian Edelman. Second-year undrafted free agent Jakobi Meyers was the leading receiver last week at Buffalo with six catches for 58 yards.
The Patriots have not thrown a touchdown pass in more than a month, and that one was thrown by third-stringer Jarrett Stidham in Kansas City on Oct. 5. The Jets will likely try to stack the box and force Newton to beat them down the field, which he has not been able to do this season.
This will more than likely be one of the smaller primetime handle games on the season for sportsbooks across the country.
Hill: Nothing pretty to see here. This will likely be an ugly game between two teams that are hard on the eyes.
The Patriots lack playmakers at receiver (all of them are undrafted and unheard of) and struggle to make explosive plays on offense. They will run the ball, shorten the game, and protect a defense that is not as good as it has been in the past few years. On the other side of the ball, the Jets will turn to Flacco, and the year is not 2012. Flacco has had a great career, and was once an upper-echelon quarterback with a knack for playing well in big games. Those days, however, are long gone. The last we saw Flacco was in Week 6, when he was on the wrong end of a shutout in Miami.
Expect both teams to run the ball and play conservatively, which will run the clock, and keep this game close and low-scoring. Look for a very unappealing 20-10 type of game that gets your “under” bets in the win column. Just don’t expect to have fun watching it.
Pick: Under 42.5