The New England Patriots opened up as big favorites over the New York Jets in week 6, with lines from +9 to +11 according to OddsShark. While I expect the Patriots to win, I don’t feel comfortable with them being such large favorites anymore, especially for these three reasons.
1. The Jets...aren’t awful?
The Jets are 3-2 this year, the same record as the Buffalo Bills and the Patriots, and they’ve won three straight. Sure, they barely beat the Cleveland Browns (17-14) and the Miami Dolphins (20-6) aren’t great either. But they also beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-20 in overtime, and the Jaguars are coming off a 30-9 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers with a top 5 rated offense AND defense.
In any other year, those three wins wouldn’t be impressive, but this year it highlights that the Jets might be closer to an 8-8 team than the 0-16 team everyone expected prior to the season.
2. The Patriots don’t appear interested in winning big
In 2016, the Patriots covered the spread in all five games where they were favored by 9 or more points, the first team to cover all of their games in a single season (min. 5 games). In 2017, the Patriots were favored by 9 or more points against the Carolina Panthers and the Houston Texans. Both came down to last second scores thanks to poor defensive efforts.
And then the Patriots seemed disinterested in blowing out the Buccaneers in week 5 and showed a willingness to play softer defenses coverages in the fourth quarter. This isn’t out of character for Bill Belichick and his team, but it certainly doesn’t inspire confidence in a blowout win and leaves an opening for a backdoor cover.
3. What is this Patriots team all about?
Do you trust this Patriots team yet? I trust the offense to get into scoring position on at least five drives, especially if Rob Gronkowski plays. But this defense? I’m going to need another strong week before I consider their 14-point performance against the Buccaneers “the norm” as opposed to “an anomaly.”
While I’m pretty sure that New England will be in the postseason at the end of the day, they’re still very far away from a finished product and that makes me hesitate.
Ultimately, the Jets and Patriots have played close games over the past five years, regardless of talent inequality. Eight of the past 10 games have come down to a single score. Don’t be surprised if that happens again.