NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (5-1)
at NEW YORK JETS (3-3)
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Line: New England -4, Total: 43
AFC East rivals meet for the second time in six weeks when the Patriots visit the Jets on Sunday afternoon.
New England scored with 0:05 left to edge the Saints 30-27 last week, while New York had only 267 total yards in a 19-6 home loss versus the Steelers. The Patriots are still hoping for TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm) to play, while Jets fans are hoping for fewer miscues (minus-11 turnover margin). New York turned the ball over four times in its Week 2 loss in New England, and that 13-10 decision gave the Patriots six straight regular-season wins in this series (4-2 ATS), and gave QB Tom Brady a 19-5 SU record versus the Jets as a starter. But for Sunday, New England has major defensive injuries in this matchup with DT Vince Wilfork (ankle), LB Jerod Mayo (pectoral), and top CB Aqib Talib (hip) all out. Both teams will likely be missing their top receivers, as Patriots WR Danny Amendola is dealing with a concussion and Jets WR Santonio Holmes is still bothered by a hamstring injury. Bill Belichick is 20-9 ATS (69%) as a road favorite of 3.5 to 7 points, and 35-18 ATS (66%) in October as the Patriots head coach, but the Jets are 6-3 ATS (67%) as a home underdog under head coach Rex Ryan and 16-4 ATS (80%) at home after a home loss since 1992.
Will the injury-riddled Patriots win again in this series? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. The experts are heating up in NFL Best Bets, combining for a 60% ATS record (27-18-2) over the past three weeks, including 69% ATS (11-5) in Week 6. StatFox Scott was a perfect 4-0 ATS in Week 6, and is 80% ATS (8-2) in the past three weeks. StatFox Gary was also a perfect 4-0 ATS in Week 6 and is 73% ATS (8-3-1) over the past three weeks.
New England's offense continues to struggle with just 4.9 yards per play (25th in NFL) and 20.8 PPG (22nd in league). The passing game has been particularly frustrating, as the club has thrown for just 5.7 yards per attempt (3rd-worst in NFL). Another huge negative is the Patriots' woeful red-zone offense (40.9%, 3rd-worst in league) that includes an NFL-worst 33% goal-to-go efficiency. QB Tom Brady has not had a season with more sacks than TD passes since 2006, but this year he has absorbed twice as many sacks (16) as he's thrown touchdowns (eight). If TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm) can finally return to the field, his touchdown acumen (39 TD in 43 career games) will really help this red-zone efficiency. Rookie WR Kenbrell Thompkins has caught four of the eight Brady TD passes this year, but only one has been less than 15 yards. The Jets did a nice job stopping the Patriots through the air in Week 2, holding Brady to 19-of-39 completions for 185 yards (4.7 YPA). The New England ground game has been decent this season with 121 rushing YPG (11th in NFL) on 4.1 YPC (16th in NFL), but it was horrible against New York, gaining just 54 yards on 24 attempts (2.3 YPC). Top RB Stevan Ridley managed just 40 yards on 16 carries in that game (2.5 YPC), but he has been much stronger in his past two contests with 149 yards on 31 carries (4.8 YPC) and two touchdowns last week. The Patriots defense has really shined all year, but will be tested without possibly their three best defenders in DT Vince Wilfork, LB Jerod Mayo and CB Aqib Talib. The unit is allowing just 16.2 PPG (4th in NFL) despite a pedestrian 348 total YPG allowed (14th in NFL). They have kept points to a minimum with 12 takeaways, including four against the Jets in Week 2. New England also recorded a season-high-tying four sacks in that win versus New York, but managed just one sack in last week's win over the Saints.
The Jets have been up and down all season, due mostly to the erratic play of QB Geno Smith. In his six games, his quarterback rating has been 80.6, 27.6, 89.9, 79.2, 147.7 and 48.8 last week. All totaled, Smith's 74.7 passer rating (59.5% completions, 7 TD, 10 INT) ranks 27th among all 35 qualified NFL quarterbacks. His lowest rating of the year came against New England in Week 2 when he completed just 15-of-35 passes for 214 yards, 0 TD and 3 INT. Smith has not been helped by a revolving receiving corps with Holmes missing the past two games, starting TE Kellen Winslow suspended for PEDs and WR Clyde Gates placed on IR earlier this week with a shoulder injury. The only active player with multiple touchdown catches this season is backup TE Jeff Cumberland, who has just 11 receptions, but two have been in the end zone. The Jets did a nice job of running the football in their Week 2 loss to the Patriots, gaining 129 yards on 32 carries (4.0 YPC). RB Chris Ivory led the team with 52 yards on 12 carries (4.3 YPC) that night, but he has been limited by a hamstring injury and has totaled just 12 carries in the four games since that meeting. RB Bilal Powell is the main ball carrier with 360 yards on 4.1 YPC this year, but he has been terrible in the past two games with a mere 68 yards on 21 attempts (3.2 YPC). Defensively, no team has been better than New York at stuffing the run, as the unit is allowing an NFL-best 2.97 YPC and 75.7 rushing YPG (2nd in NFL). The passing defense has also been strong with 6.2 YPA allowed (8th in league), but this team seriously needs to generate some turnovers to help out the offense. In the past five games, the Jets have recorded just one takeaway. The secondary, which has one interception all season, could be missing both CBs Dee Milliner (hamstring) and Kyle Wilson (head) on Sunday.