The New England Patriots and New York Jets meet for the rubber match of the 2010 season during the 2011 AFC divisional playoff. Mark Sanchez outdueled Peyton Manning, but can he overcome Tom Brady and Bill Belichick?
The early spread on this game is Patriots (-9) Here are some of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for when betting. Stats from NFL.com and ESPN. All lines from Cooper’s Picks.
The Patriots have thirteen players on IR, losing two more over the bye week (Mike Wright, Ron Brace). The Patriots are trying to get some defensive linemen back from inury, and they’re hoping that Myron Pryor is able to play. Their four questionables as of 1/9 include Pryor, Banta-Cain, Aaron Hernandez, and Daniel Connolly.
The Jets have no significant injuries to report as of 1/9 other than IR, but check injury reports throughout the week to see if that changes.
#2: Home Field Advantage
The New England Patriots have only lost one home under with Tom Brady starting at QB in Gillette Stadium since 2007. Ironically, that loss was their last home game, a 2009 Wildcard match-up against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Jets and Patriots split during the regular season match-up. The Jets won 28-14 in the first meeting while the Patriots won the rematch 45-3 in New England.
#4: Road Warriors
The New York Jets sustained a 6-2 road record in comparison to their 5-3 home record throughout 2010. Their history of road playoff success under Rex Ryan dates back into 2009. Since then, they have defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, San Diego Chargers, and Indianapolis Colts in road contests. They also held a 17-13 lead against the Colts during the AFC championship game at halftime before a second half collapse.
Basically, the Jets thrive as the underdogs and excel away from Jersey.
The Patriots have had an extra week of rest and preparation. However, these are divisional rivals, so they’ll already have a great deal of familiarity. The bye week could help the Patriots more than any other team as they’re trying to retrieve a large allotment of their wounded defensive linemen for the playoffs.
#6: Playoff History
The Patriots and Jets have collided in the postseason on two separate occasions. The Patriots are 2-0 in playoff match-ups, with their most recent victory being a 37-16 victory in New England during the Eric Mangini era.
#7: Mark Sanchez vs. Tom Brady
Mark Sanchez has failed to throw more touchdowns than interceptions in his past six match-ups. Sanchez has wild against the Indianapolis Colts and showcased poor decision making in his lameduck interception at the end of the first half. On the contrary, Tom Brady hasn’t thrown an interception in his last eleven contests.
Both kickers have a history of being wild. Nick Folk was nearly cut a month ago, but demonstrated clutch in his game winning field goal against the Indianapolis Colts. Shayne Graham’s last playoff game featured a complete meltdown against the Jets as a Cincinnati Bengal last season. That game cost him his kicking gig.
#9: Divisional Rivalry
The Jets and Patriots maintain one of the AFC’s most prestigious rivalries. Therefore, both teams have great familiarity with one another and are often unpredictable.
The Patriots had a historical rate of turnovers with a +28 turnover ratio. The defense has given up yardage, but they’ve relied on playmaking ability and Tom Brady’s precision. Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions in their last meeting.
#11 Third Down Offense
The Jets only converted three third downs against the NFL’s worst third down defense in the last match-up. That won’t likely happen again, but if it does, this will be another blowout.
The biggest things I look at in a playoff match-up are quarterback and defense. Similar to last week, the Jets have the advantage in defense while Tom Brady is a decisive advantage at quarterback for the Patriots.
The Jets have showcased some awkward decision making within the final three minutes of games. Rex Ryan’s clock management has been questionable (most notably against the Minnesota Vikings), Ryan’s made some gambles that haven’t paid off (Running a fake punt inside his own territory against the Green Bay Packers), Schottenheimer’s decision to throw deep in the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts, and Ryan looking like he would have relied on Nick Folk to kick from outside 50 yards had Jim Caldwell not call “The timeout.”
This won’t be 45-3, again. They should be better prepared now that they’ve gotten used to playing without Jim Leonhard. However, Brady and Bill Belichick excel in playoff match-ups. Ryan makes a crucial mistake in the waning minutes of a game, and they’ll make him pay with their season.
Got to go with the Patriots here. I expect a spirited effort from the Jets defense and for them to abuse the Patriots third down defensive deficiencies en route to 35 minutes of possession, but I’d be surprised if Ryan can outcoach Belichick in a close game (or Sanchez outplay Brady).
Against the Spread: – New York Jets (+9)
Straight: – New England Patriots
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More playoff previews and predictions against the spread available by checking out my profile.
Cooper’s Picks, January 9, 2011
Stats NFL.com, January 9, 2011
Injury Reports, Covers.com. January 9, 2011