The Jets’ first nine games of the 2021 season have fallen into three distinct categories — 1. Stunning wins. 2. Disasters. 3. Total disasters.
Since that first category contains just two games — the victories over the Titans and Bengals — and two of the total disasters have come the past two weeks, it’s understandable why bettors wouldn’t even consider taking the Jets this week against the Dolphins. Not after Miami’s defense shut down Lamar Jackson and the Ravens 10 days ago.
But NFL betting isn’t just about last week or the past two weeks. They keep stats for the whole season, and at least offensively, the comparison between the teams is interesting. The Jets — even with four different quarterbacks, a first-time offensive coordinator and a line that lost Mekhi Becton in the opener — outrank the Dolphins in several key areas. Those are yards per play, yards per pass attempt, yards per rush and a slight edge in time of possession.
So though the Jets’ defense has been strafed in numerous ways, this is finally one opponent it might be able to keep a little quiet. And though many jumped on Robert Saleh for naming Joe Flacco the third different starting quarterback of the season after sending mixed messages on Mike White, I do agree with the coach that the one-time Super Bowl champ gives the Jets the best chance to win on Sunday.
The pick: Jets, +3.5.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-2) over New Orleans Saints
The Saints got us a cover last week in Tennessee despite the absence of Alvin Kamara. He practiced Wednesday but sat out again Thursday. Starting offensive tackles Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstrong missed practice both days, so this could end up being a problem for the Saints against Fletcher Cox and the rest of Philadelphia’s defensive front.
Washington Football Team (+3) over CAROLINA PANTHERS
Ron Rivera’s defense got the better of Tom Brady last week even after Chase Young went down and out for the season. Now he coaches against Cam Newton, and Riverboat Ron certainly knows his every move. Taylor Heinicke had been good moving the ball downfield and terrible in the red zone, but lately he’s been better at getting the ball into the end zone.
Indianapolis Colts (+7) over BUFFALO BILLS
The Bills had a laugher over the Jets, but the offense was starting to be a concern before that. These teams met in January in Orchard Park in the playoffs, and the Bills eked by, 27-24. Figuring we’ll see a similar game here and that Colts coach Frank Reich can keep his crew within a full touchdown.
Detroit Lions (+11.5) over CLEVELAND BROWNS
Yes, I’m concerned about this being a huge bounce-back game by an angry Browns team after a blowout loss at New England. But Baker Mayfield is all kinds of banged up, and the forecast is wet and windy, so I like the double-digit head start even with Tim Boyle starting at quarterback for Detroit. Though the Lions are 0-8-1, they are 5-4 ATS and 4-1 ATS getting more than seven points.
San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Though the Jaguars are coming off a stunning win over the Bills and a cover at the Colts, they scored a total of two touchdowns in those games — one on a 66-yard breakaway run by Jamal Agnew. And they might be missing top RB James Robinson here.
Houston Texans (+10.5) over TENNESSEE TITANS
In a piece in Thursday’s Post, VSiN’s Jonathan Von Tobel wrote about how the Titans are being overvalued by the market, even though their stats are tumbling in the absence of Derrick Henry. In the past two games, their average drive is just 20.8 yards.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (+1.5) over Green Bay Packers
How do you go against a team that’s covered the spread nine games in a row? Well, the marketplace is designed for the good and bad teams to end up bunched within a few games of the middle in the ATS standings, and the Packers are an outlier. Vikings have talent, and I’m thinking they gained some confidence with their road win vs. the Chargers.
Baltimore Ravens (-5.5) over CHICAGO BEARS
The Bears gave us a nice cover against the Steelers a few Mondays ago despite getting hosed by the officials. Looking for some urgency from Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ offense after the egg they laid on the Thursday night in Miami.
Cincinnati Bengals (-1) over LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Though teams off a bye are having problems this season, I like this spot for the Bengals when combined with the Raiders being on a bit of short rest after getting drilled by the Chiefs on Sunday night. Cincinnati had a recent string of scoring 34-41-31, while Las Vegas has scored 16 or fewer points in four of its past six games.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (+2.5) over Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray could return, but he’d join a lineup without Chase Edmonds and probably DeAndre Hopkins. The Cardinals dug deep without a few stars and crushed the 49ers two weeks ago. This will be tougher because it’s a last stand for the Seahawks.
Dallas Cowboys (+2.5) over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Did the Chiefs finally figure it all out Sunday night in their rout of the Raiders, and was that the start of a big roll? That very well could be. On the Dallas side, Dak Prescott is 15-9 ATS as an underdog and road ’dogs of +3 or less are 17-10 ATS the past two seasons, though Prescott won’t have Amari Cooper, who is set to miss two games after testing positive for COVID-19.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+6.5) over LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
The Chargers, so much less than a sum of their parts, have only one win this season that would cover this number. Though the Steelers have injury problems and had to salvage a tie against the winless Lions, Mike Tomlin usually figures things out as an underdog. He’s 41-20-2 ATS as a ’dog in my running count.
Best bets: Washington, Eagles, Giants.
Lock of the week: Washington (Locks 5-4 in 2021).
Last week: 6-8 overall, 0-3 Best Bets.
Thursday: Falcons (L).