New York Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons Monday Night Football: NFL Picks

Jason Lake

Monday, October 7, 2013 1:24 PM GMT

The Atlanta Falcons were one of the best UNDER bets of 2012. But that was back before the federal government and the Falcons defense both shut down.

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to October 5 inclusive:

11-10-1 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

2-4 Totals

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I love the smell of defense in the morning. The Atlanta Falcons were one of my near-automatic NFL bets last year, going 13-3 SU and 9-6-1 ATS with the UNDER checking in at 11-5. Pounding those NFL totals was child’s play; the Falcons had a strong defense, and they almost literally ran the ball into the ground at 3.7 yards per carry. It smelled like… victory.

Atlanta smells a whole lot different now. That lockdown defense has gone belly-up, Michael Turner has been put out to pasture, and the Falcons are 1-3 SU and ATS with the OVER at 3-1 heading into their Monday Night Football matchup (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) with the New York Jets. We’ve got a total of 44 points up on the Week 5 NFL odds board; our consensus reports show the betting public split down the middle on this one.

Review my thoughts on the Jets vs. Falcons Opening Odds.

There Is Still No Spoon 

I kept my beer fridge full last year by paying fairly close attention to teams that had key injured players coming in and out of the lineup. Offensive linemen are always on the football betting radar screen; on defense, it was linebackers like Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs, Houston’s Brian Cushing, and Atlanta’s Sean Weatherspoon. The Falcons lost their defensive lynchpin to a sprained ankle in Week 8, and after he returned in Week 12, the UNDER went 5-1 to close the regular season. 

Here we are again. Weatherspoon sprained his foot in Week 2 against the St. Louis Rams, and while it didn’t appear serious at first, a closer look revealed a Lisfranc injury that landed Weatherspoon on temporary injured reserve. If that weren’t enough, DE/LB Kroy Biermann left the same game with a torn Achilles and is out for the season. The Falcons defense is No. 26 on the defensive efficiency charts as a result. That’s one spot ahead of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who might be losing on purpose.

Click here for our Jets vs. Falcons Pick on the Spread.

Manic Pixie Dream Beaver 

The Falcons still have an offense. A very good one at that; QB Matt Ryan is performing at his usual high level (66.5 percent completion rate, 97.7 passer rating), and the running game has improved to 4.4 yards per carry – on those occasions when Ryan hands off the ball. Atlanta was No. 28 after four games with just 75 rushing attempts; last year, the Falcons were No. 26 in that department, but the decline was felt most sharply during the second half of the season, as the 30-year-old Turner turned into a pumpkin. 

Nobody’s going to mistake Jacquizz Rodgers for a power running back. While Turner was a fire hydrant at 5-foot-10 and 235 pounds, Rodgers is a will-o'-the-wisp at 5-foot-6 and 195 pounds. The former Oregon State Beaver is filling in for Steven Jackson (hamstring), and he’s doing a fine job of it, rushing for 4.8 yards per carry against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3 and 4.6 yards against the New England Patriots in Week 4. RB Jason Snelling (4.7 yards per carry this season) is also moving the sticks as the thunder to Rodgers’ lightning.

I Can Almost Remember Their Funny Faces 

The Jets (2-2 SU, 3-1 ATS, OVER 2-2) happen to have a solid defense, No. 4 in the NFL according to those Football Outsiders efficiency charts. But there’s a schism between that No. 1 run defense and the No. 14 pass defense. Ryan should get his chances to air it out Monday night, just as he did against the Patriots (No. 11 pass defense) in last week’s 30-23 loss, which conveniently went OVER 49 points. 

I also like that Geno Smith kid. A little. Let’s see if he gets to work his old West Virginia Mountaineer magic this week. We know the weather conditions will be suitable – this game’s at the Georgia Dome, and both teams have had an extra day to rest up. Do you smell that? It’s offense, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. 

NFL Pick: Take OVER 44 (–105) at Pinnacle

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