The Patriots and Jets will joust in this week’s Thursday prime-time matchup, with New England coach Bill Belichick seemingly having an immense advantage by playing at home on short rest against New York and its rookie QB, Geno Smith.
Before making a knee-jerk reaction in picking the three-time Super Bowl-winning combination of Patriots QB Tom Brady and Belichick, history indicates New England could be in for a rougher-than-expected time.
Counting last week’s 23-21 final-seconds victory over Buffalo and rookie EJ Manuel, the Patriots are 2-3 ATS vs. first-year passers. Also, over the past two seasons New England is 1-5 as a double-digit choice.
In fact, in Week 2 last year, the Patriots were the only double-digit pick to lose straight-up all season, when it fell to Arizona 20-18 at home as a 13½-point choice.
Now for more on Thursday’s game:
PRO FOOTBALL - THURSDAY, SEPT. 12
NY Jets (1-0) at New England (1-0)
Time: 5:25 p.m. PST
Line: Patriots 11½ (44 points)
Facts: In the Patriots’ comeback victory Sunday from a 10-point deficit in Buffalo, WR Danny Amendola had team highs with 10 catches and 104 yards. RB Shane Vereen powered for 101 rushing yards. Amendola (groin) is unlikely to play Thursday. Vereen (wrist) is out and not projected to come back until Week 11.
These teams met in the Meadowlands on a Thursday in Week 12 last year, with the Patriots winning 49-19 as a seven-point pick in a game lowlighted by then-NYJ quarterback Mark Sanchez’s butt-fumble.
Rookie QBs on the road last season with three days’rest were 4-1 ATS. Second-year Patriots WR Kendrell Thompkins, who was Brady’s favorite target last week (14 throws), had only four catches for 42 yards.
Analysis: The Patriots’ two TD drives against Buffalo last week were for 16 and 32 yards, which is particularly alarming since the Bills were down two starters in the secondary, including veteran standout Jairus Byrd. Thus, this is a lot of points to expect them to cover. But, then again, the Jets’ only TD drive was for 31 yards.
Maybe the UNDER in order here. Although New England’s running game should be in good hands with 1,200-yard rusher Stevan Ridley, his head could be clouded by last week’s fumble that resulted in his midgame benching. Plus, it doesn’t seem the Patriots’ offensive line is getting much push these days. With all that in mind...
Forecast: Patriots 21, Jets 16
“Popular” Bob Christ has been forecasting NFL games for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in newspapers from coast to coast in Canada and the U.S. Contact him at [email protected].