Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets
Sunday, October 25, 2020 – 12 PM ET at MetLife Stadium
Too Big A Number?
The Jets are not only 0-6 SU. They’re also 0-6 ATS as NFL Oddsmakers struggle to account for just how terrible they are. Currently, Buffalo is favored by close to two touchdowns. Is this a fair spread? So far, the Jets have lost four of their six games by 18 points or more.
One exception was Denver, which won by nine but had to field backup Brett Rypien at quarterback. The other exception was Buffalo. The Bills only won by 10 because they allowed a touchdown in garbage time as the game was nearly over. Plus, the Jets were healthier back then as this game took place in Week 1.
Right now, New York is worse off with quarterback Sam Darnold continuing to miss time due to an injured shoulder. This game will also be different because the Bills will enter it angry. After starting out 4-0, they have lost their past two games.
After his past two games, it may be easy to forget the praise with which Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen and Buffalo’s spread passing attack was lavished. At least with this upcoming game in mind, it would be unfair to forget this praise.
His last two opponents were distinct from the rest in that they were high-caliber — both the Titans, who are 5-0 and the Chiefs, who are 5-1, feature among the NFL’s best teams. So Allen struggles against stronger competition. After eclipsing 100 in terms of passer rating in each of his first four games, Allen’s passer rating failed to reach 80 against both the Chiefs and Titans.
We have every reason to forget about these most recent struggles because his upcoming opponent is anything but high-caliber. Part of why the Jets remain winless is their hapless secondary, which ranks second-to-last in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average).
Allen’s strong performances all came against higher-ranked secondaries. So he is fully capable of throwing for his usual 300-400 yards and three-to-four touchdowns against these Jets.
Bill Receivers vs. Jets Secondary
Even last year, the Jet secondary was quite vulnerable as it already ranked 20th in pass defense despite fielding more ability than it can now.
In particular, Jamal Adams appears to be a tough loss. Adams provided emotional leadership, was a playmaker, strongly improved in coverage assignments based on his stats when targeted, created tremendous havoc rate with his disruptiveness in the backfield, and was a surefire tackler in general.
Buffalo possesses more than enough weapons in its pass attack with Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. The former ranks third in the NFL in both receptions and yards while the latter ranks top-30 in both categories.
Jets Offense vs. Bills Defense
New York’s offense has scored 10 points or fewer in three different games. Too much blame gets placed on Darnold’s shoulders — even when he was healthy. Metrics indicate that his offensive line is one of the league’s worst in both pass protection and run-blocking.
He has had so little talent supporting him. New York’s starting running back is a 37-year old Frank Gore who’s averaging 3.3 YPC. More importantly, the Jets lack a strong number one wide receiver and they lack quality depth behind him.
At best, there’s Jamison Crowder who ranks 89th in target quality rating. This rating reflects his low catch efficiency, which is produced in part by his difficulty in creating cushion or separation, and his lack of ability to pose any kind of deep or vertical threat.
Buffalo’s pass defense has been top-caliber in recent seasons. Last year, for example, it ranked sixth in pass defense DVOA. This year, injuries have plagued Buffalo’s pass defense. Matt Milano, for example, is an underrated factor. He’s crucial in patrolling the middle of the field with his coverage abilities — PFF ranks him as the fourth-best linebacker in coverage.
Milano should be ready to go on Sunday. He did not play in his team’s last game although he had a full practice on Friday. Tre’Davious White, Josh Norman, and Taron Johnson are able to build continuity in the back with improving health.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Sunday, October 25, 2020 - 4:25 PM ET at SoFi Stadium
To be clear, every game right now seems to be a bad spot for the Jaguars. They are 0-4 ATS in their last four games, failing in any of those games to remain within seven points of the spread. Three of those losses came by more than two touchdowns while the other was an eight-point loss against the Bengals.
This game is, in particular, a spot play for the Jaguars because of how bad they are historically on the West Coast. This has been true almost throughout their existence as a franchise and has been no less true under current coach Doug Marrone. In 2017, which was Marrone’s first full season in Jacksonville and which ended in the AFC Championship Game, the Jaguars lost both of their west coast games.
They lost at Arizona despite being favored by six points. They also lost by 11 points at San Francisco despite being favored by four. After responding to an embarrassing blowout loss by winning at Oakland despite losing the total offense battle by 102 yards, Marrone’s Jaguars are 1-2 SU and ATS on the West Coast.
Chargers Pass Attack vs. Jacksonville’s Pass Defense
In their win over Oakland, the Jaguars benefitted from a pass defense that ranks eight spots better in DVOA than it does now. The Jaguars rank last in the category. Their cornerbacks are worse and they lost top pass-rushing options in the offseason.
While rookie C.J. Henderson is growing, Jacksonville’s second- and third-best cornerbacks each allow a passer rating well over 120 and a completion percentage well over 70. So the Chargers look so promising because they enjoy quality depth at wide receiver with three-time Pro Bowler Keenan Allen and with Mike Williams flexing chemistry with new quarterback Justin Herbert.
The rookie out of Oregon has enjoyed his strongest two games in his past two as his passer rating exceeded 120 against both the Buccaneers and the Saints. He is growing and more than able to handle a league-worst Jacksonville secondary. He makes so many plays through the air — he ranks number one in money throws, of which he’s already amassed 15.
Video footage shows Herbert’s poise in the pocket, his comfort going through progressions, his manipulation of defenses to create more space for his pass-catchers, and his skilled touch.
Can Jacksonville's Offense Keep Pace?
Despite having quarterback Gardner Minshew attempt 40+ passes in each game, the Jaguars failed to reach 20 points in three of their past four games. Minshew has long been figured out by opposing defenses. He is very much a backup quarterback given his lack of strong arm and his lack of vision.
His fear of committing negative plays drives him too early from the pocket and it compels his conservative approach which is measured by his ranking bottom-half in average completed air yards. So the Jaguars don’t move downfield easily and they are one-dimensional, pass-first. They’ve displayed these struggles despite facing pass defenses that rank worse than L.A.’s.
Minshew’s proclivity to flee makes the Jaguars’ already bottom half-ranked pass protection unit look better than it is. He’ll be running for his life with Joey Bosa, who has four sacks so far, chasing him. Melvin Ingram may be cleared to return.
Free NFL Pick: Chargers -7.5 at -108 at Heritage
The Parlay Verdict
The angry Bills led by Josh Allen will throttle a weak Jets unit that is limited by anemic offensive talent and a porous secondary.
Also, the Jaguars will continue tumbling on the West Coast as they fail to keep up with a Charger pass attack that is filled with greater weapons, a legitimate and growing starting quarterback, and that contends with less pass rush and a league-worst secondary.