Thursday September 12th, 2013 8:25 EDT TV: NFL Network
Odds Provided by Bovada.lv
The AFC East takes center stage on Thursday Night Football when the New York Jets head to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots. Both 1-0 after Week 1, this game is hugely important in the AFC East.
The Jets pulled off a last minute victory at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in rookie quarterback Geno Smith’s first career start. Smith looked more polished than most young signal callers in his first start. He even led a game winning drive late into the game to setup a field goal (after a boneheaded late-hit penalty by Tampa) to win the game 18-17.
Smith was 24 of 38 for 256 yards with one touchdown and an interception. He also ran for 47 yards. Journeyman tight end Kellen Winslow was his most productive target, catching 7 balls for 79 yards and a touchdown.
The Jets defense played well, considering the weapons Tampa has offensively. They held down the reigning offensive rookie of the year Doug Martin to just 65 yards and a touchdown and Josh Freeman could not seem to connect with his receivers. Part of this was issues with his accuracy but the Jets continued to bring pressure all game long.
The Patriots play their second divisional game in as many weeks. Last week, they gutted out a victory against the Buffalo Bills which they trailed going into the fourth quarter, 21-17. The Pats shut out the Bills in the final quarter and won the game on two field goals, 23-21.
Tom Brady had to throw 52 times in the win and felt pressure from the Bills defense. He was sacked twice, threw an interception and fumbled the ball on the Buffalo 4 yard line. The Patriots looked slightly out of sorts on offense for much of the game, but Brady found his new acquisition Danny Amendola frequently. He caught ten passes for 104 yards. Wide receiver Julian Edelman also caught seven balls for 79 yards and a touchdown.
The most notable loss for the Patriots was Shane Vereen who led the Patriots in rushing Week 1 with 101 yards against the Bills. He will need wrist surgery and will miss several weeks. Steven Ridley will likely get the brunt of carries while he is out, but Belichick benched him for the rest of the game after fumbling in the 2nd quarter on Sunday.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski will likely not be available for the game against the Jets despite practicing Monday. The Patriots are still calling it a game time decision, but there is little chance of a return on Thursday for Gronk.
The game opened at Patriots -13 and is hovering around that number with a few shops offering -12.5. Obviously, if you’re betting New England, look around and grab the -12.5. The spread is the largest number we’ve seen on the young season. The total is listed at 44 at most shops but seems to be trending upwards as some have the number at 44.5.
Both of these teams looked a little shaky on offense last week, but that is expected as even the illustrious Tom Brady needs time to get used to so many new faces on offense. Geno Smith was shaky, but for a different reason, he was a rookie making his first NFL start. However, he showed plenty of poise in the pocket and some explosive running ability. Tampa’s pass defense was one of the worst in the league last season, but they did add Darrelle Revis in the offseason. It is hard not to be impressed with what we saw from Smith in Week 1.
The under hit frequently last week going 8-4-1 on Sunday’s games, but I don’t think that is a sign of things to come. There are plenty of high totals this week, and 44 is unquestionably on the low compared to the other numbers.
I see this one being a rather higher scoring affair despite the semi-average total. The Patriots offense will be much better in game number two, despite the loss of Vereen. Tom Brady hit a variety of targets last Sunday and will be even better this week against an average Jets’ secondary.
Geno Smith is no joke. The Jets still have a miserable roster, but the rookie QB turned heads with his Week 1 performance around the NFL. He was reasonably accurate in the opener and has the ability to create big plays with his arm and scramble around enough to put the Jets in a position to be competitive, at least for awhile. E.J. Manuel passed for two touchdowns against the Patriots in the loss, but still was not as dynamitic as Geno Smith.
This points total in this one should easily clear the predicted number of 44. I’m taking the over 44 at Bovada.lv