If you’ve been following along here in this space, you’ll know in the past two weeks I’ve been having a bit of a tug-of-war in my football head regarding the Jets and my mental and physical well-being.
As I’ve mentioned, in the Week 12 Black Friday game against the Dolphins, Stupid Jet Tricks such as a personal foul on the first defensive snap and a Hell Mary pick-six happily rolled off my back as I collected a win, a Best Bet and a Lock of the Week on Miami. Life was good.
Last week, I went back into F-Around, Find-Out mode and took the Jets as small home underdogs to the Falcons and their own kinda clueless quarterback Desmond Ridder. My reward was four sacks, three turnovers, 11 penalties and a trip to Walgreens for a bottle of Gaviscon.
So here we are in Week 14 and the Jets are taking on the 7-5 Texans. Both teams will be starting quarterbacks who were the second pick in their respective drafts. C.J. Stroud has been great — throwing for 3,450 yards, most in the NFL, with 20 touchdown passes and five interceptions.
The Jets counter with Zach “In the Saddle Again” Wilson, who comes in with 1,944 yards passing, six touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Those numbers probably don’t do justice to how bad he’s been. Wilson is getting another chance because Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian were next-level horrible, but that doesn’t mean Wilson will be any better than he’s been.
I figure the Jets’ defense will come out strong again, and it will help the that Houston is missing top receiver Tank Dell. But once the defenders see there’s no “Zach to the Future,” just the Same Old Zach, we’ll get a few personal fouls, Stroud will make a few highlight-reel plays, and the Texans will get outside the spread and stay there.
The spread in this game has fallen from 6.5 to 3.5, and there are some betting folks I respect who are picking the Jets to cover or even win outright. I wish them luck and offer them a half-bottle of antacid.
(For my health), the pick: Texans -3.5.ATLANTA FALCONS (-1.5) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As I mentioned, I’m unimpressed with Ridder, but he is 6-3 as a starter this season. Arthur Smith did see fit to bench him for three games (all losses by Taylor Heinicke). The Bucs got out-rushed by the 1-11 Panthers last week in a narrow win, so I’m looking for big days from Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier.Biaj Robinson is set for a big day against the Bucs. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post BALTIMORE RAVENS (-7) over Los Angeles Rams
This is a little more than I feel comfortable laying to a Rams team that has won three in a row and allowed 20 points or fewer in four straight. The Ravens are just pounding out big points — five games of 31 points or more in a row before a still-fine 20-10 win over the Chargers. I’m staying out of Lamar Jackson’s way.Detroit Lions (-3.5) over CHICAGO BEARS
The Lions will be on alert after needed a serious comeback to beat the Bears on Nov. 19. Spread seems like a small price to back a 9-3 team that’s 5-1 outright on the road.CINCINNATI BENGALS (+1) over Indianapolis Colts
Jake Browning did a great Joe Burrow impression on Monday night, but things won’t be as easy in a short week against a strong Colts pass rush. Still, I’m calling a bit of B.S. on the Colts’ four-game winning streak — which came against Carolina, New England, Tampa Bay and Tennessee and included a few close escapes.Jake Browning is no Joe Burrow. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con CLEVELAND BROWNS (-3) over Jacksonville Jaguars
If you’re looking for value and possible overreaction in a line that flipped favorites in a big way after Trevor Lawrence’s injury, then the Jaguars might be your team. I’m thinking the combination of a short week, travel, 44 degrees, rain and Myles Garrett will be C.J. Beathard’s undoing.Carolina Panthers (+5.5) over NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Some Saints backers seem OK with Jameis Winston likely taking over for the injured Derek Carr, but Winston’s one start was a 122-yard passing performance in a 27-19 loss in Minnesota that was 24-3 at the half. Not interested in the Saints laying this number to anyone.LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (+3) over Minnesota Vikings
Maybe the toughest game of the week to forecast. The Vikings get Justin Jefferson back, but he finds a new quarterback in Josh Dobbs and it could take the receiver some time to get back in form. The Raiders list pass-rusher Maxx Crosby as questionable, but he’s never missed a game in his career. Willing to take a few points at home with the Raiders and see what happens.Josh Dobbs will finally get to throw to Justin Jefferson. Getty Images Seattle Seahawks (+10.5) over SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
We just saw this matchup on Thanksgiving night, and it wasn’t even as close as 31-13 Niners indicates. Seattle’s also been blown out by the Rams and Ravens. But that was an impressive offensive showing last Thursday at Dallas, and Geno Smith, DK Metcalf & Co. have a little extra time to prepare. Niners have won four blowouts in a row, and nothing lasts forever in the NFL.Buffalo Bills (+1.5) over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The Bills had a late bye week to chew on their 6-6 record, which is one of the biggest surprises of this NFL season. They haven’t even been that bad but just aren’t closing out games they normally win. But Buffalo should be in total desperation mode against the Chiefs, and again next week vs. the Cowboys to try to save its season.Denver Broncos (+3) over LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Not sure what to make of the Bolts’ 6-0 win over the Patriots that came after three losses. In those four games, LA’s point total has dropped from 38 to 20 to 10 to six. The Broncos have had a strong second half under Sean Payton, winning five in a row before a 22-17 loss at Houston last week. The horses should have a lot of fans at SoFi, too.Sean Payton has the Broncos trending up. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con DALLAS COWBOYS (-3.5) over Philadelphia Eagles
Wouldn’t want to lay much more than this in a high-level matchup, but I don’t think the hook is as important as usual in what shapes up as a shootout. Eagles beat the Cowboys, 28-23, in Philly on Nov. 5, but the Cowboys had lots of chances to win it. Eagles defense has leaked out 76 points in the past two vs. the Bills and Niners.Betting on the NFL?
Everyone’s going ga-ga over Jordan Love and the Packers, and I can’t say it’s undeserved after they knocked off the Chargers, Lions and Chiefs all in a row. But Green Bay was a combined +17.5 in the closing lines for those games, and it’s a long way to being a 6.5-point road favorite in prime time. The Giants are still pretty bad, but they have life and some pizzazz now with Tommy DeVito at quarterback. Good decision by Brian Daboll to roll with him.MIAMI DOLPHINS (-13.5) over Tennessee Titans
Usually these near two-touchdown spreads are for best-against-worst matchups, and I don’t necessarily put the Titans in that latter category. Still, this was a team that was held to 17 points or fewer four weeks in a row before a 31-28 OT loss to the Colts, who play a lot of barn burners. Most likely it’ll be just Dolphins stars Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Raheem Mostert burning barns here under the lights. They are 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS at home, and have already covered two spreads of 13 points or more.
Best bets: Dolphins, Falcons, Lions
Lock of the week: Dolphins (Locks 4-9 in 2023)
Last week: 7-6 overall, 1-2 Best Bets
Thursday: Steelers (L)
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