The Sunday contest between the New England Patriots and New York Jets may not have the same intensity of the old ‘Border Wars,’ but it will have big implications on the AFC East lead.
The Don Best Pro Odds have New England as mostly 10½-point home favorites with a total of 47-47½. CBS will have the 4:25 p.m. (ET) telecast from Gillette Stadium.
Both teams have 3-3 straight-up marks, as do the other AFC East members in Miami and Buffalo. The Patriots (-400) are still heavy favorites in the division future odds, followed by the Dolphins (+600), Jets (+800) and Bills (+1000).
The Patriots (4-2 ATS) came into this season with high hopes, building off last year’s 13-win regular season and another Super Bowl appearance. However, they haven’t been able to finish games like in prior years with the three losses to Arizona (20-18), Baltimore (31-30) and Seattle (24-23) by a combined four points.
Last week’s loss at Seattle was particularly painful after leading 23-10 with 7:21 remaining. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson made several big plays down the field and the New England pass defense (289 YPG, ranked 28th) isn’t looking much than last season (294 YPG, ranked 31st).
The Patriots offensively are still very explosive at 32.1 PPG (ranked third). They shot themselves in the foot several times against Seattle and should have scored more with their 475 total yards.
Coach Bill Belichick does need to change up the offensive game plan this week. Against Seattle, they threw it 56 times and rushed just 26. That was out of respect for the Seahawks great run defense, but being too unbalanced ended up costing them.
New England can’t just go five-wide and spread out the Jets defense as Rex Ryan has shown he knows how to defend it. Running back Stevan Ridley (524 yards, fifth in the league) needs a big bounce-back game after just 34 yards last week. He might have to carry a huge load with Brandon Bolden (knee) questionable.
The Jets (4-2 ATS) should feel pretty good about themselves being tied for the division lead. Season-ending injuries to cornerback Darrelle Revis (knee) and wide receiver Santonio Holmes (foot) had most predicting certain doom, but they’ve remained feisty so far.
Ryan’s guys covered its last two games, first playing Houston tough on Monday Night Football, 23-17 loss as 9½-point ‘dogs. Last week’s game was also at home, a 35-9 blowout win over Andrew Luck and Indianapolis.
Mark Sanchez threw just 18 passes last week (82 yards) as the team relied on 252 rushing yards and four Colts turnovers. Shonn Greene had 161 yards and he’ll be featured to try to use some clock and keep the Pats offense off the field.
Greene will be very busy with backups Joe McKnight (ankle) and Bilal Powell (shoulder) both doubtful, but New England’s run defense is very solid (82.7 YPG, ranked sixth).
The other big question is how will Sanchez (70.9 QB rating, ranked 31st) fare against this young and so far porous Patriots secondary. New England has big potential issues at safety with Steve Gregory (hip) and Patrick Chung (shoulder) both questionable. The problem for the Jets is their receiving weapons are very limited without Holmes.
New England won and covered both games versus New York last year, including 30-21 as 7½-point favorites in Foxboro. The Jets did have a huge playoff upset in New England two seasons ago, 28-21 as 9½-point ‘dogs.
The ‘over’ is 5-0 in the last five meetings between the teams.