NFL Picks: Jets vs. Falcons in Week 5

Jason Lake

Thursday, October 3, 2013 3:28 PM GMT

None of the teams in the AFC East have a losing record after Week 4. So why are the 1-3 Atlanta Falcons laying 9.5 points to the New York Jets on the Week 5 NFL betting lines?

Check out our Daily NFL Week 5 Betting Odds Report for continuing coverage of this week's games! 

Football betting is a wonderful thing. How else can the New York Jets make you happy by playing mediocre football? They’re 2-2 SU as we head into October, but their level of play is much better than it was last year, lifting the Jets to 3-1 ATS as they prepare for Monday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) versus the Atlanta Falcons.

You’ll also be a happy camper if you’ve been fading Atlanta this year. Pegged as one of 2013’s most overvalued teams, the Falcons have delivered thus far at 1-3 SU and ATS. But our Week 5 NFL odds lines show the Dirty Birds moving from –9 (+105) at the open to –10.5 (+105) as we go to press. Roughly two-thirds of bettors are on Atlanta in light trading. Interesting.

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New York Dolls

Let’s not get too carried away with those win-loss records. Although the Falcons are sub-.500, they’ve played a pretty tough schedule up until now, certainly tougher than New York’s. Football Outsiders has crunched all the numbers through Week 4, adjusted for strength of opposition, and ranked Atlanta No. 14 in overall efficiency (No. 6 offense, No. 26 defense, No. 11 special teams). The Jets are a couple of steps behind at No. 20 (No. 29 offense, No. 4 defense, No. 6 special teams).

Again, this is a major improvement for New York. This is a club that went 6-10 SU (7-9 ATS) last year, and got a little bit lucky at that with just 5.6 Estimated Wins and 5.3 Pythagorean Wins. That was bad enough to finish the season at No. 27 on the efficiency charts. There was almost nowhere to go but up after a year of foot fetishes and butt fumbles.

Mean Geno

There’s still plenty of room for improvement. There was a time when QB Geno Smith was considered a lock to go first overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. Smith tore it up in college with the West Virginia Mountaineers, winning the 2012 Orange Bowl and breaking Marc Bulger’s school records for touchdowns and completions. But Smith’s draft stock fell after teams started having success pressuring the Mountaineers up the middle. His sullen attitude didn’t earn him any bonus points, either.

New York eventually grabbed Smith in the second round at No. 39, after taking CB Dee Milliner at No. 9 and DT Sheldon Richardson at No. 13. Strange moves for a team that was weak just about everywhere except for defense. But as fate would have it, QB Mark Sanchez was hurt in the preseason, and while Smith is experiencing some growing pains, he’s a definite upgrade from his predecessor:

Sanchez 2012: 54.3% completions, 13 TDs, 18 INTs, 1.3 YPC, 66.9 passer rating, 23.4 QBR

Smith 2013: 57.4% completions, 4 TDs, eight INTs, 5.3 YPC, 68.6 passer rating, 38.0 QBR

The obvious difference here is on the ground. As a dual-threat quarterback, Smith can keep the chains moving even though his arm isn’t quite NFL-ready, which has prompted some people in New York to call for Matt Simms to get the starting gig. That puts Smith in some pretty good company – sharper sports betting fans have made pretty good money over the years following controversial (read: African-American) QBs like Vince Young, and more recently with Terrelle Pryor and the Oakland Raiders. The NFL betting public is what it is.

Atlanta may be the better team overall, but that No. 26-ranked defense is a mess without LB Sean Weatherspoon, who’s out until Week 11 with a Lisfranc injury. So much for pressure up the middle.

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NFL Pick: Take the Jets +9.5 (–105) on the point spread at Bet365

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