Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Surprises were in store for fans of both the New York Jets and New England Patriots when the 2013 season opened last week. Everyone assumed the Jets with rookie quarterback Geno Smith would lose at home to Tampa Bay. Las Vegas sportsbooks were VERY one-sided with action on the Bucs. And, everyone assumed New England would crush Buffalo and their rookie quarterback E.J. Manual. The Patriots were bet up to a double digit favorite before kickoff.
NY Jets (+4) beat Tampa Bay 18-17
New England (-10) barely beat Buffalo 23-21
Yes, the Jets needed a miraculous gift from the Bucs to steal that victory. But, they would have covered the spread even without that last second field goal off a horrible penalty. They were “competitive,” which was more than many were expecting.
New England was sluggish through most of the Preseason as they tried to adjust to new personnel. Three turnovers kept them from pulling away from a Buffalo team that was just happy to be on the field hanging close.
Let’s take a closer look at some of those numbers from last week to help you pick a winner when the Jets and Patriots play Thursday Night in a game that will be nationally televised by the NFL Network…
Last Week’s Stats
*NY Jets: New York won total yardage 304-250. But, in fairness, they needed a first half safety and a last-second gift to eke out a tight win over a team that may be destined for 5-11 this year. Yards-per-play was just 4.2 for each team, which were among the lowest numbers in the league. Coaches, players, and fans celebrated the victory. It wasn’t exactly a “statement” win considering what it took to pull off.
*New England: The Patriots won total yardage 431-286, which is more in line with what everyone was expecting. Those three turnovers were a killer though, particularly the fumble on the one-yard line that may have taken away a touchdown. The Patriots moved the chains well all day, converting third downs at a 55% rate. This wasn’t vintage New England by any means…but you could see why they would still look like championship material in games where they weren’t committing turnovers.
With only one game to go on from 2013, we’ll use last year’s final numbers one more time in our big game previews this weekend (also for San Francisco/Seattle this Sunday, and Pittsburgh/Cincinnati Monday). Handicappers will have to make a determination as to whether Geno Smith will be better than Mark Sanchez.
NY Jets: 6-10, -14 turnover, #20 ranked schedule
N. England: 12-4, +25 turnovers, #22 ranked schedule
Both teams played very similar schedule strengths, so the numbers will be pretty meaningful. The biggest difference between the teams was in the turnover department. Brady historically plays a very clean game (just not last week with new personnel!). Sanchez was a turnover machine last year. Can Smith avoid turnovers? The Jets had two last week.
NY Jets: 4.8 on offense, 5.1 on defense
N. England: 5.7 on offense, 5.7 on defense
One of the biggest stat surprises of the year was the fact that New England was just break-even in yards-per-play. If you can battle them even in turnovers…then they become mortal very quickly. The Jets were a net negative…but not as bad as you might have expected.
Third Down Conversions
NY Jets: 37% on offense, 37% on defense
N. England: 49% on offense, 40% on defense
This is part of the reason the Patriots can win with break-even YPP. Brady turns their yards into more points because he moves the chains and drives the field to get something on the board. Differential in this category is always a great indicator stat…that’s why we’ve been emphasizing it for years!
Current Line: New England by 12, total of 43.5
The stats make it clear that New England is obviously the better team. Should they be favored by THAT much? The key to the cover will be how well Geno Smith avoids mistakes in the first road start of his pro career…and how well New England moves the ball given injuries and the awkward transition to new personnel.
JIM HURLEY believes tonight’s pointspread winner will beat the line by at least a touchdown. You can purchase the final word during the day before kickoff right here at this website. If you have any questions about this huge football weekend…or the rest of the college and pro seasons…call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.
Back with you tomorrow with a stat preview of the much anticipated Alabama/Texas A&M SEC showdown. Saturday we’ll look at Wisconsin/Arizona State in a late-night battle. You know the prime time card for the NFL Sunday and Monday. Stick with us every day so you know what’s really happening in the world of sports. And, link up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!