Just one game in Week 7 that features two teams with winning records, and first place in the AFC East is on the line as the New York Jets visit New England. The Patriots are -10 on 5Dimes' NFL odds -- biggest spread of week -- with a total of 48.
Bowles A Fantastic Hire Thus Far
The Jets (4-1) have been one of the NFL's biggest surprises under first-year coach Todd Bowles, the former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator. Most projected the Jets to finish last in the AFC East again off last year's 4-12 record under former coach Rex Ryan.
Ryan is considered one of the NFL's best defensive minds, so it's a bit stunning how much better the Jets defense is under Bowles. True, the team made some big offseason acquisitions on that side of the ball, led by Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis. But still. New York leads the NFL in yards allowed per game (269.2) and points (15.0 per game) while ranking second against the rush (82.6 ypg) and pass (186.6 ypg). Certainly Bowles has to be on the short list for NFL Coach of the Year along with Dan Quinn, who has the equally surprising Atlanta Falcons at 5-1 in his first year there.
My one quibble with the New York defense is that it has beaten some iffy quarterbacks in Josh McCown (Cleveland), a struggling Andrew Luck (Colts), Ryan Tanehill (Dolphins) and Kirk Cousins (Redskins). None of those teams have winning records, either. The Jets' lone loss was 24-7 at home in Week 3 against Sam Bradford and the Eagles.
Perhaps the best thing to happen to the Jets was the broken jaw suffered by projected starting quarterback Geno Smith during a locker-room scuffle in training camp. The job clearly belongs to journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick now. He is completing 62.6 percent of his passes for 1,177 yards, nine scores and seven picks. Not outstanding numbers but good enough for a team that emphasizes the running game and ball control. The Jets stole receiver Brandon Marshall from the Bears in a trade this offseason as Marshall has 37 catches for 511 yards and four scores. He also has a string of four straight 100-yard games, the first Jet to do that since Don Maynard in 1968. In addition, Chris Ivory (460 yards, third in NFL) has emerged as a true No. 1 running back.
New York might be without cornerback Buster Skrine this week as he suffered a concussion in Week 6 against Washington. The Jets are 4-1 against the spread on NFL odds and 2-3 'over/under.'
New England Still Looks Super
The Patriots (5-0) have overtaken Green Bay as the favorite to win Super Bowl 50 at Bovada, with the Pats at +275 and the Packers at +325. While Seattle is struggling with a bit of a Super Bowl hangover from February, the champion Pats certainly aren't. They come off a 34-27 win in Indianapolis on Sunday night in an AFC Championship Game and "Deflategate" rematch. New England trailed entering the third quarter, but Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on a 25-yard TD pass with 10:56 left in the quarter and a 27-21. lead Then Brady hit LeGarrette Blount for an 11-yard score with 12:48 left in the fourth for a 34-21 edge. That came six plays after a bone-headed fake punt attempt by Indianapolis that failed miserably and no doubt everyone has seen highlights of by now. The Colts had some success blitzing Brady as he completed less than half his passes and threw a pick-six. But Brady had three touchdowns when the Colts sent four or fewer pass rushers.
The Patriots are first in the NFL by far in scoring offense at 36.6 points per game and No. 2 in total offense at 422.4 yards per game. That offense could get back receiver Brandon LaFell this week. He is eligible to begin practicing after opening the season on the physically unable to perform list. LaFell had 74 catches for 953 yards and seven scores in 2014.
New England is 3-2 ATS on NFL picks and 3-2 O/U.
New England swept last season but both could have gone either way. The Patriots won 27-25 at home on a Thursday in Week 7. Brady had three TD passes and the Patriots blocked Nick Folk's game-winning 58-yard field-goal attempt on the game's final play. Ivory finished with 107 yards rushing. In Week 16 in New Jersey, the Patriots won 17-16 thanks to a 1-yard TD run from Jonas Gray early in the fourth quarter. Folk had a 52-yard field-goal attempt that could have given New York a lead with just over five minutes left. But Vince Wilfork (now with Houston) partially blocked it. Brady threw for only 182 yards and was sacked four times. New England has won seven of the past eight meetings but the past four have been decided by three points or fewer.
NFL Picks: Take the points and go 'over' the total at 5Dimes. The Jets are 7-0 ATS in their past seven vs. the AFC. They are 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The 'over' is 9-2-1 in the past 12 meetings.