Think Jets players will be motivated Thursday night vs. Buffalo as former Jets coach Rex Ryan comes back to town for the first time since being fired? Of Course! Let's examine Jets player props.
Right now, Football Outsiders gives the Jets (5-3) a 69 percent chance of making the playoffs. With a win over the Bills, that number would rise to around 80 percent. New York currently holds the AFC's top wild-card spot, with Pittsburgh (5-4) a half-game back and Buffalo and Oakland one full game with both at 4-4. The Jets don't play the Steelers this season if you are wondering about that possible tiebreaker. New York's remaining schedule after this is: at Texans, vs. Dolphins, at Giants, vs. Titans, at Cowboys, vs. Patriots, at Bills. Only the Giants and New England currently have winning records among that group. Dallas will have QB Tony Romo back by that game, however (assuming he's not hurt again), so that will be tough. But beat the Bills in this game and the Jets could be looking at 10-6, which should be enough for a wild-card spot. Even 9-7 may do it. A loss here would be crushing as it would give Buffalo and early head-to-head tiebreaker and the Jets also lose a head-to-head against the Raiders (4-4). The Jets are +2500 on NFL odds to win the AFC title.
There are a few injuries to note for the Jets heading into Thursday. Starting right guard Willie Colon was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Wednesday due to chronic knee issues. Brian Winters will replace him in the lineup. Winters has 20 career starts, but only two at right guard -- both this season. Also out are safeties Calvin Pryor and Dion Bailey. And starting cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who has never missed a game due to injury in his nine seasons, is doubtful. Center Nick Mangold is banged up but will play.
Ryan Fitzpatrick 'Over/Under' 20.5 Completions, 240.5 Passing Yards, 1.5 TDs, .5 INTs
Fitzpatrick only has the New York starting job because of Buffalo's IM Enemkpali. Back in training camp, Enemkpali was a Jet and he cold-cocked then-starting quarterback Geno Smith in the locker room over a reported $600 debut (although Smith this week said he didn't owe anything). Smith's jaw was broken, knocking him out weeks, and that opened the door for Fitzpatrick, who had been acquired for a late-round draft pick from Houston, to start. And things have worked out pretty well. Fitzpatrick is completing 61.8 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. It's fair to say Smith would not have those types of numbers. Fitzpatrick currently is playing through a torn ligament in his non-throwing thumb; he may have surgery on it Friday but won't miss time. It doesn't affect his throwing. We could see obscure history Thursday night. Fitzpatrick is a Harvard grad and has 136 career touchdown passes. The record for most TD passes by an NFL QB from an Ivy League school is 137 by Sid Luckman, who went to Columbia. Buffalo ranks 21st against the pass, allowing 260.0 yards per game. The Bills have given up 15 TD passes and picked off eight.
NFL Free Picks: 'OVER' all except TDs. Jets are a run-first team, but that's what Bills are good at stopping.
Chris Ivory O/U 67.5 Rushing Yards, -130 For Anytime TD
The Jets had the NFL's top rushing attack for a while there, but it has fallen off because Ivory has. Since games of 166 yards in Miami on Oct. 4 and 146 yards against Washington on Oct. 18, Ivory has had totals of 41 yards, 17 yards and 26 yards. He did have two TDs in Sunday's win over Jacksonville but averaged just 1.1 yards per carry. In fact, his 26 yards were the lowest in NFL history for a player with at least 23 carries. Ivory is averaging 1.5 yards per carry over the past three compared to 5.5 before that. The Bills are No. 5 against the run. Ivory didn't do much in two games vs. the Bills last season.
NFL Free Picks: 'UNDER' but Ivory does get a goal-line TD.
Brandon Marshall O/U 6 Receptions, 79.5 Yards, +125 To Score TD
Marshall was basically given away by the Bears in trade to the Jets this offseason, and Marshall looks like he's rejuvenated with the move. He has 54 catches for 730 yards and five touchdowns. Marshall has five 100-yard games and has recorded at least 100 receiving yards or a touchdown catch in all but one game this season.
NFL Free Picks: 'UNDER' all & NO. Marshall had a season-low four catches for 44 yards Sunday vs. the Jags and is battling through toe and ankle injuries.