The Teaser: Pair New York Jets and New England
Game 1: New York Jets vs. Cleveland
The Initial Line:
New York Jets +1.5 away vs. Cleveland
Add 8.5 points to New York Jets’ line
The Final Line:
New York Jets +10
The New York Jets amazingly got their 2nd straight victory this past weekend, beating Jacksonville at home in OT 23-20. New York powered to victory through use of their running game, as they ran for a total of 256 rush yds behind Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire. Cleveland lost to their state rival Cincinnati 31-7 at home to fall to 0-4. Cleveland did the opposite of New York, with only 45 total rush yards and 215 total yards of offense in the loss.
New York might be the most surprising team given that most expected them to totally tank. They had a record-setting 1000-1 odds to win the Super Bowl and now sit at 2-2 tied with New England in the AFC East. A part of that has been relying on a rushing attack that ranks 7th in the NFL in rush yards/game (130.8). Neither team has particularly played great defense, as New York is 21st and Cleveland is 29th in terms of points allowed/game. Cleveland has also had major issues with turning the ball over behind rookie QB DeShone Kizer, as they’re tied for the NFL lead with 10 giveaways through 4 games. Now neither team is stellar, but veteran Josh McCown has at least been able to limit mistakes (3 INTs) through 4 games vs Kizer (league leading 8 INTs). I’ll take the veteran over the rookie leading their respective offense, but just to be sure we should grab some insurance points as the game is in Cleveland. Grabbing New York at +10 should be more than enough to cover.
Game 2: New England vs. Tampa Bay
The Initial Line:
New England -5.5 away vs. Tampa Bay
Add 8.5 points to New England’s line
The Final Line:
New England +3
New England’s defense has continued to struggle and it cost them the victory, losing their most recent home game to Carolina 33-30. The one positive for New England is that they still have arguably the most effective QB in the NFL in Tom Brady, who went 32-45 for 307 yds and 2 TDs. Tampa Bay was barely able to squeak out the last minute 25-23 home victory against the New York Giants. Jameis Winston also had a productive game against New York, going 22-38 for 332 yds and 3 TDs.
Tom Brady is having one of the best starts to his career at age 40, with some staggering numbers (66.5% completions, 1,399 yds, 10 TD, 0 INT). This trend should continue on Thursday Night Football, as Tampa Bay has allowed the 2nd most passing yards/game in the NFL (315.7). There’s also the fact that New England is great at protecting the ball, as seen by their 5th ranked turnover differential (+4) while Tampa Bay is tied for 13th (0). It’s true that New England’s defense has been weak the first 4 games as it has given up many big plays, but Tampa’s defense has many big injuries – most noticeably at LB (both David and Alexander out). If this game ends up being an offensive shootout, I’d rely on the consistent stellar play of Tom Brady over the sometimes mistake prone play of 23 yr old Jameis Winston. If history has told us anything about New England, they fight they hardest when critics get on them the most. I think they pull out the road victory here in the spotlight of Thursday Night Football, but just to be safe grab some extra points.