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Everyone knows the Jets’ history of following up rousing wins with unconscionable flat performances. You have to go back only as far as Week 2 of this season to find one.
This column took an “L” when the Jets lost to the Dolphins, just as it has numerous times in the past 25 years when daring to buy in to any kind of Jets revival. Even with that serving as a daunting backdrop, here’s why the Jets are the pick on Sunday in the wake of their destruction of the Broncos:
The feeling here is when Sam Darnold hit Robby Anderson for the two deep touchdown passes, it changed the way opposing teams (and bettors) have to think about the Jets. In their post-Joe Namath history, there have been a few pockets in which they could heave the ball deep and have it caught (Ken O’Brien to Wesley Walker and Al Toon; Vinny Testaverde to Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet), but for the most part they’ve been playing against eight defenders in the box for the better part of 40 years.
For a team without a single natural pass-rusher, the Jets are tied for ninth in the NFL with 14 sacks compiled by 10 players, which speaks well of the defensive schemes. Andrew Luck will be missing top receiver T.Y. Hilton and reliable tight end Jack Doyle, and his lack of mobility leaves him susceptible to the Jets’ blitzes.
The pick: Jets -2¹/₂.
Cardinals (+10) over VIKINGS: Kirk Cousins is starting to get into a groove with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, but it might be a little much to ask the Vikings to cover double digits after a statement revenge win in Philadelphia.
BROWNS (+1) over Chargers: The Browns are 2-0-1 at the Dawg Pound this season. Aside from the aberrational 45-42 loss at the Raiders, Cleveland has yielded a stout 17 ppg. And a win over the Ravens is better than any of the three wins the Bolts have posted (Bills, 49ers, Raiders).
Bears (-3 ¹/₂) over DOLPHINS: Bears had a bye after their 48-10 rout of the Buccaneers, in which Mitchell Trubisky threw six touchdown passes. Matt Nagy coached under Andy Reid, who is great after byes, so we’ll see if that matters. Do like this Chicago defense, and the Bears always seem to have a lot fan support at their Florida games.
REDSKINS (-1) over Panthers: Carolina is traveling off a lucky win that came on a 63-yard field goal following some terrible flags in a game in which the Giants scored 30 points for the first time in eons. Skins are inconsistent as always, but every so often they put out a big performance such as their 31-17 win over the Packers two weeks ago.
Steelers (+2) over BENGALS: This should be a fun one. The Steelers have scored 30, 37 and 41 already this season, and the Bengals have put up 34, 34 and 37. Though it’s a tough call, this pick in made in expectation of a tightening of the AFC North, as opposed to a Bengals runaway.
FALCONS (-3) over Buccaneers: Spread is way smaller than anyone would have expected, particularly with the Bucs having lost their previous game by 38 points. Falcons have given up 41, 37 and 43 points their past three games and have key injuries on defense, but they’re still capable of an occasional blowout of a weak opponent.
Seahawks (-2¹/₂) over Raiders: Both teams had to fly around 5,000 miles to get to Wembley Stadium. A jet-lagged Raiders defense figures to be in trouble against a dynamic QB such as Russell Wilson. And the Seattle D has nine interceptions this season, while Oakland’s Derek Carr leads the NFL with eight interceptions thrown.
Bills (+10) over TEXANS: Hesitant to give double digits with the Texans when their first five games were decided by seven, three, five, three and three points. Plus, Deshaun Watson just took a pounding in a prime-time, Texas-bragging-rights win over the Cowboys.
BRONCOS (+7) over Rams: WRs Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks are both expected to be cleared from concussion protocol, but wondering if the high altitude will make it harder for them to function. The Broncos don’t match up well, but there should be a huge increase in grit and effort after the blowout loss to the Jets.
Jaguars (-3) over COWBOYS: The Jags got crushed, 30-14, in K.C. but did intercept Patrick Mahomes twice without allowing him a touchdown pass. Their defense should be in better shape versus a Dallas team that lacks down-field threats, which will allow them to key on Ezekiel Elliott.
TITANS (+2¹/₂) over Ravens: Willing to grab the small head start at home with a Titans team that has seen its games decided by seven, three, three, three and one point. Also, it’s the third road game in a row for the Ravens.
PATRIOTS (-3¹/₂) over Chiefs: The Patriots have a few extra days to prepare for Mahomes, after beating the Colts on Thursday in Week 5. It’s also a revenge game for Bill Belichick, whose team was embarrassed by the Chiefs, 42-27, on opening night 2017. Add in Tom Brady going against the latest Flavor of the Month quarterback as well as the NFL’s 32nd-ranked defense.
49ers (+9¹/₂) over PACKERS: The Packers showed two weeks ago in a 22-0 home win over the Bills that they’re still capable of playing a complete game, but then everything went haywire last week in Detroit. C.J. Beathard can move the ball enough to keep the 49ers within sniffing distance.
Best bets: Jaguars, Jets, Broncos.
Lock of the week: Jaguars (Locks 4-1 in 2018).
Last week: 9-5-1 overall, 1-2 Best Bets.
Thursday night: Eagles (W).