NEW YORK JETS (1-0)
at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (1-0)
Kickoff: Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET
Line: New England -12, Total: 43.5
The banged-up Patriots seek a fifth straight series win over the rival Jets when the AFC East foes collide on Thursday night.
Although New England won a 49-19 laugher in their most recent meeting last Nov. 22, New York covered in Foxboro one month prior to that, falling 29-26 in overtime. Speaking of close games, both teams needed a field goal in the closing seconds in Week 1 to pull out nail-biting victories. Jets rookie QB Geno Smith piled up 303 total yards in an 18-17 home win versus the Bucs, while Patriots QB Tom Brady threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns to lead his club to a 23-21 win in Buffalo. Both scores went to WR Julian Edelman, who might have to play an even bigger role on Thursday with RB Shane Vereen (wrist) out, and both TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm) and WR Danny Amendola (groin) doubtful. Although the Jets are 44-27 ATS (62%) on the road in divisional play since 1992, the Patriots are 9-1 ATS when coming off a win against an AFC foe in the past three seasons.
Can the banged-up Patriots cover the big spread against the rival Jets? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. During the 2012 campaign, the experts combined for a 52% ATS success rate in NFL Best Bets, highlighted by StatFox Brian's 60% ATS mark (36-24-2 ATS) and StatFox Dave's 53% ATS accuracy (44-41-4). StatFox Scott and StatFox Gary dominated NFL Totals, with Scott going 57% (38-29-1) and Gary cranking out a 56% clip (28-22-1) during the season, capped off by a perfect 4-0 run in the postseason.
The Jets allowed Geno Smith to make his NFL debut last week, and it paid off big-time, as Smith completed 24-of-38 passes for 256 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, but he did absorb five sacks. He was also the only competent rusher on his team, gaining 47 yards on six carries while the unimpressive RB duo of Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory combined for 44 yards on 22 carries. Despite this poor ground game, the Jets still won the time of possession battle 32:22 to 27:38. Smith's favorite target through the air was newly-signed TE Kellen Winslow, a former Patriots player. The tight end caught seven of his eight targets for 79 yards and the team's lone touchdown. New York's defense did a great job stuffing the run and star RB Doug Martin, holding the second-year pro to 65 yards on 24 carries (2.7 YPC). That was something they did not do well against the Patriots last year, allowing them to total 283 rushing yards in the two defeats.
Although Patriots still remember the home playoff loss to the Jets three years ago when they were the top seed in the AFC, Tom Brady has dominated this series in the regular season recently, throwing for 312 yards per game with 13 touchdowns and just one pick while leading his team to five straight wins over the hated rival. While his receiving corps is in disarray other than Edelman who caught 7-of-9 targets from Brady last week, New England's running game is not in tip-top shape either. With Vereen out, the team will turn back to Stevan Ridley who was benched for the majority of the season opener after his second-quarter fumble put the Bills on the scoreboard. Ridley certainly has the ability to overcome this mistake, especially against a Jets team that allowed him to chew up 162 yards on the ground and a touchdown over two meetings last year. With RB Brandon Bolden questionable with a knee injury, the only other option to run the football is LeGarrette Blount who gained a paltry 15 yards on seven carries on Sunday. Newly re-signed RB/KR Leon Washington might also get some reps on third down. The Patriots are hoping to dominate time of possession like they did against the Bills on Sunday, keeping the ball for 37:43 compared to 22:17 for Buffalo. New England will also look to pressure Smith often and create turnovers like they did last year when they tallied seven total takeaways in the two wins over the Jets.