The NFL is a league built on and desirous of parity. Jets and Giants fans may have forgotten that, what with their teams having resided below the poverty line for so long.
So far in this 2022 season, though, we are seeing a new type of parity, in which almost every team in the league somehow got worse — out of the blue and all at the same time — than 5-1 Big Blue and 4-2 Gang Green.
As I return from vacation and thank Erich Richter for filling in last week, we start by staying aboard these two local trains, which look to be on the express tracks to the postseason.
New York Jets (-1) over DENVER BRONCOS
Robert Saleh is “collecting receipts” and he’ll find plenty of them, but not so many here as the Jets rewarded our Lock of the Week choice with a 27-10 victory over the Packers at Lambeau Field.
The margin could have been bigger, as the Jets left four points on the table at the end and the zebras had to cost them another 10 points along the way. What was more stark than the score, though, was the way the Jets beat down the Packers’ offensive line (which still contains top players such as David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins) and put hit after hit on Aaron Rodgers.
Next up is a broken Denver team. Many are calling this a trap game, what with the Patriots coming to MetLife next week. I don’t see that as a problem, as many of these Jets were on the field last October when the Broncos hammered them, 26-0. And a handful more will remember the desultory 36-27 loss to backup QB Brett Rypien on a Thursday night in New Jersey in 2020.
The Jets should be able to continue what they started in Green Bay, attacking Rypien (who will start for the injured Russell Wilson), riding the regal Breece Hall and mixing in some well-timed gadgets while not putting Zach Wilson at much risk. Special shout-out from one D.B. to another: Duane Brown is a marvel who has solidified the Jets’ offensive line in two weeks. It’s amazing to watch a 37-year-old, 330-pounder block defensive backs 20 yards downfield.
Some are expecting the Same Old Jets, but to me, that means the same as last week.
New York Giants (+3) over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
The Giants don’t quite have the talent that the Jets do, but the coaching duo of Brian Daboll and Wink Martindale is about as good as it gets. When higher-end players start to arrive, we could be looking at a Buffalo South or Kansas City East kind of extended success.
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Those coaches look to me to be the key to another W. They have a great handle on the AFC competition and already have knocked off two of the conference’s top teams: Tennessee and Baltimore. They’ve adapted to injuries and found uses for all 53 players, even if we don’t know all of their names.
Detroit Lions (+7) over DALLAS COWBOYS
Even with Dak Prescott set to return for the Cowboys, I’m willing to take a shot with the Lions in their preferred betting role of large underdogs. Even factoring in their 29-0 loss at New England, the Lions still rank third in points per game (28), while the Cowboys are 21st at 18.3.
TENNESSEE TITANS (-2.5) over Indianapolis Colts
Looking for a little bounce from the Titans after their bye, as they are 4-0 ATS under coach Mike Vrabel in such spots. Tough call, though, as the Colts are expecting Jonathan Taylor back after going 2-0 without him.
Atlanta Falcons (+6.5) over CINCINNATI BENGALS
Always wary of a Bengals points explosion, but hoping it doesn’t come this week, with both Ja’Marr Chase (hip) and Tee Higgins (ankle) appearing on the midweek injury report. So monitor them. The Falcons are the only remaining undefeated team against the spread (6-0).
Cleveland Browns (+6.5) over BALTIMORE RAVENS
Baltimore has been untrustworthy with a lead — see: losses to Miami, Buffalo and the Giants — so I’m not interested in giving almost a touchdown to a division rival. The Browns have the offense to at least slip in the backdoor.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-11) over CAROLINA PANTHERS
Usually grab double-digit home underdogs, but I can’t get behind a team that’s already in fire-sale mode in October. Hoping Tom Brady pays a little more attention to, you know, this game instead of Gisele or Kraft or whatever else that may have been distracting him.
WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (+4.5) over Green Bay Packers
Figuring Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat learned a few things from the Jets about how to get at Aaron Rodgers. Taylor Heinecke had a good game last year in Lambeau (268 yards passing, 95 yards rushing), though Washington messed up in the red zone several times and lost, 24-10.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (-7) over Houston Texans
This is a tough number to lay because the Raiders don’t deserve to be favored by this much over anyone based on performance thus far. They did have the near-miss, 30-29 loss at Kansas City before the bye, and Josh Jacobs is coming off games of 144 and 154 rushing yards.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (+2.5) over Kansas City Chiefs
Though it’s been an up-and-down season so far for the 49ers, they have been excellent in their two home games, beating the Seahawks, 27-7, and the Rams, 24-9. The Chiefs are back to their old non-covering tricks at 2-4 ATS.
Seattle Seahawks (+5.5) over LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
The Seahawks have shown flashes on offense (48 points at Detroit, 32 at New Orleans) and defense (nine points allowed last week vs. Arizona). Hoping they can be good on both sides of the ball in the same week. Schedule could produce a small edge, as the Chargers played nearly a full overtime Monday night.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+7) over MIAMI DOLPHINS
Was interested in the Dolphins until the line hit the key number of seven. Now it’s harder to pass up the renowned underdog, Mike Tomlin. Thinking the Under, too, in a likely matchup of two quarterbacks coming back from concussions in Tua Tagovailoa and Kenny Pickett.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-8) over Chicago Bears
Hate to play the big favorite in prime time, but I can’t sit there for three hours praying that the Bears’ prehistoric offense will score against Bill Belichick’s defense. The Patriots shut out the Lions, who have a good offense, so I don’t hold out much hope for Justin Fields here.
Betting on the NFL?
Patriots, Jets, Giants.
Lock of the week
Patriots (Locks 4-2 in 2022).
9-5 overall, 2-1 Best Bets.
This story originally appeared on NYPost