Tougher Tests For New York’s Giants and Jets, not Buffalo’s Bills
This is the weekend we learn whether the Giants and Jets are just off to lucky starts or whether they are for real.
Four weeks is a nice sample size. Five is better.
We have a month-long body of work to judge regarding each of them (along with the Buffalo Bills, New York’s other team). But the Jets and Giants are exceeding expectations, while the Bills are about what we expected — with a huge assist from Baltimore coach John Harbaugh.
With the Giants, we always knew Saquon Barkley had the talent and the misfortune of being injury-prone. But to be leading the NFL in all-purpose yards (570) along with total rushing yards (463) when the sportsbooks have been putting his rushing yardage over/unders in the his 70s?
Well, that shows one theme we will continually hit on in these columns. The books are sometimes very, very wrong.
As for the Jets, we knew quarterback Zack Wilson will give them a boost after the three-game Joe Flacco start to the season. But to bring his team back with two fourth-quarter touchdowns on the road in Pittsburgh against what had been a pretty good Steelers defense for three quarters?
That win and the miracle in Cleveland in Week 2 have us thinking that maybe this team is more than just lucky. We say that with the utmost trepidation because they are the Jets.
But now they are going up against a Miami team that will not have injured Tua Tagovailoa just two weeks after he drew millions of dollars in MVP futures bets. And you start to wonder whether their run of good fortune is running amok.
Bookmakers Not Convinced
Both the Giants and Jets are underdogs this week, of course. The Giants are getting 7 1/2 or 8 in London for their overseas tilt with the Green Bay Packers. That’s while the Jets are getting three at home against the Dolphins. They try for their first consecutive regular-season wins since Weeks 14 and 15 of the 2020 season after they had started 0-13. Yeah, it has been a while.
The Bills are 14-point favorites at home against those same Steelers who gave one away against the Jets. That two-touchdown spread is the largest on the NFL line this week. They won their first two by 21 and 34. And it is a question of whether we will see those Bills or the other Bills who dropped a 21-19 game against the Dolphins and had to rally from a 20-3 deficit against a Ravens team whose coach had a bout with cranial flatulation that will go down in NFL lore.
Oddsmakers Convinced Yet on Saquon?
Let’s get back to Barkley, whose rushing total over/under line has been bumped up one whole yard to 80 1/2 despite him rushing for 146 last week, which means he has hit that over in three of four games. His receiving yardage over/under is 28 1/2, even though the Giants receiving corps has been decimated by injuries.
And quarterback Daniel Jones on a gimpy ankle, will likely be inclined to look for shorter pass plays rather than dropping further back in the pocket, where his lack of mobility and likely inability to scramble is going to put him at a disadvantage.
No doubt the Packers are game-planning for such an event, and we shall see whether Barkley can super-produce against a defense that likely knows exactly what is coming at them.
That is why it is incumbent upon coach Brian Daboll to get the most out of his special teams and defense while game-planning against a future Hall of Famer in Aaron Rodgers, who — get this stat — has 52 TDs and just six interceptions when facing five or more rushers since 2018. In his first three games of the season, he threw an on-target pass when being blitzed 100% of the time. No sacks, no scrambles, no thrown-away passes or broken-up passes.
Last week, the Bucs blitzed him on 41.2% of his dropbacks, and he took six hits but completed 77.1% of his passes.
Also, Rodgers’ receiving corps is No. 2 in the NFL on yards after a catch.
Why Giants-Packers Line So High
So one future Hall of Famer vs. one guy on a bum ankle is one of the reasons for the big line in this matchup of 3-1 teams. It will be a breakfast special back in New York (9:30 a.m. kickoff), while in Wisconsin, pastors will wonder what happened to their flocks.
We are sure of this much: Barkley will be up to carrying the offense. If Jones is above 90% on his ankle, this could be an unlikely win against a Packers team that had a slightly shorter rest week (the Pack went to OT in a later afternoon game last Sunday), a longer airplane trip, and a QB who had his head cleansed by ayahuasca.
Wilson is coming off a week in which some strong words precipitated the final of his two fourth-quarter TD drives. He told his teammates on the sidelines that we shall not be reprinting here because we are a family website, and we do not want to muck that up with words that rhyme with muck.
The game-winning score was inches away from being a game-deciding fumble, but running back Breece Hall broke the plain of the goal line with 16 seconds left to complete a 10-play, 65-yard drive for a second stunning comeback against an AFC Central team.
The Jets now sit at 2-2, trailing the Bills and Dolphins by one game in the standings in a tough Oct.2-Nov. 6 schedule that will test their grit: Green Bay and Denver on the road are next, followed by home games against the Patriots and Bills. The latter begins a November that will see their schedule ease up as they get the Bears, Lions, Jaguars, and Seahawks as part of their final seven games.
Divisional games are crucial for tiebreakers, and the Dolphins will be their first divisional opponent and starting QB Teddy Bridgewater. That’s while Tua becomes a lightning rod for further tightening concussion protocol rules. Hey, you take your breaks when you can get them, and this certainly seems like one for Gang Green.
Old Friends on Coaching Staffs
One of the games within the game will pit Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel against Jets offensive coordinator Mike Lafleur. The two worked together for the Browns, Falcons, and 49ers, always in different positions related to the offense. How this manifests itself will be interesting because the two surely know each other’s trick plays. That could factor into your wagering strategy for the over/under, which is 46, a number the Jets have reached only once in four games (the Dolphins are 1-3 on over/unders and scored only 15 against Cincinnati last week after Tagovailoa went down for the second time in as many weeks.)
Miami is 2-1-0 against the spread with a rest advantage since last season. They have not played since two Thursdays, and the notorious wind at Met Life Stadium is forecast to be a relatively mild 11 MPH. Miami’s kicker, Jason Sanders, is 5-for-6 this season and has missed one extra point. The Jets’ kicker Greg Zuerlein is 7-for-8 on both FGs and PATs. And hey, in a game with a 3 1/2-point line, the kickers loom kind of large, eh?
As for the Bills, that 17-point comeback we saw from them last week represented their largest comeback win since they erased a 21-point deficit to beat New England in 2011. Their over/under is 45 1/2, and 81 percent of the handle at BetMGM has come in on the under, spokesman John Ewing said.
Think that is a high percentage?
Well, on the Dolphins-Jets game, 85% of the bets are coming in on Miami, the second-highest total in the NFL behind 92% of the public, taking the Titans -2 1/2 at Washington. So if the Jets shocked the world, they would shock a lot of bettors who thought the Fish were a lock.
In the Bills game, the over/under for Allen’s passing yards is 279 1/2 for a guy who averages 306.8 and remains the prohibitive MVP favorite at +250, trailed by Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts at +500 apiece. Allen’s favorite receiver has been Stefon Diggs, whose receiving yardage over/under is 83 1/2, a number he has failed to surpass in the last two games.
For those bettors who like all three New York teams to win again (hey, it happened last week), a $10 ML parlay on the Jets, Giants, and Bills pays $111.91 at Draft Kings and $97.40 at Fan Duel. Also, Fan Duel moved the Giants line to 8 Friday because they were seeing the same skewed percentages coming in on the Packers as BetMGM was.
For those who expect a dog day afternoon (and morning), a three-way point spread parlay on the Giants, Jets, and Steelers pays $68.24 at Draft Kings and $62.18 at Fan Duel. We instead recommend spending that $10 on a Mimosa for the morning game and seeing where things go from there.