Opening Lines: Week 10

The Patriots opened as 1-point favorites as they travel to New York to take on the rival Jets.

We’re going to see a lot of digital ink spilled this week to break down New England’s struggles on offense the past few weeks. I don’t think there are any easy answers. Lack of execution, turnovers and adjustments by opposing defenses have all played a role. Maybe Brady’s hair is too short. Maybe the sexual harassment charges against a certain butter-fingered wide receiver played a role. (that sounds way dirtier in print than it sounded in my head … honest) Maybe Rex Ryan is too fat. I don’t know what that has to do with anything. But somebody should point it out for his health’s sake.

The struggles on offense against the Cowboys, Steelers and Giants all share a similar characteristic; they’ve come against teams who can generate a lot of pressure with the pass rush even without an all-out blitz. The Jets have a decent pass rush, but a number of their sacks are due to excellent coverage on the back end. All three of the aforementioned teams have done a better job of getting to the QB than the Jets this year, so there may be hope that New England’s struggles will end this week.

The Pats have also struggled in pass coverage just a bit, so they are vulnerable to strong passing attacks. Mark Sanchez has played solid football the past several weeks, but his play has been buoyed by a strong running game. New England has been very good against the run, so Sanchez probably won’t have the luxury of playing game manager. It remains to be seen if he can win games on his own, so there is not definitive answer to that question this week.

Until I’m proven wrong, I’m going to stick with my theory that the Pats will struggle most against teams who can rush the passer and move the ball effectively through the air. The Jets don’t quite fit that bill. Oh, and Rex Ryan is fat. I’ll pick the Pats to cover.

Other Lines I Like

Broncos (+3.5) @ Chiefs

The Broncos unveiled a new gimmick last week by letting Tebow run the read option, and the results were unexpectedly good. Much like the Wildcat, the league is likely to catch up to this wrinkle in a few weeks. In the mean time, the Broncos should be able to put some points on the board.

Bills (+6) @ Cowboys

I don’t trust Tony Romo to beat anybody by six, especially with the hamstring monster biting Miles Austin last week. Buffalo stumbled last week against a team that presented a matchup problem, but I don’t think Dallas presents those same problems.

Texans (-3) @ Bucs

Tampa Bay gets a lot of credit for their 10-win season last year, but that was against a schedule that looked a lot like Penn State’s (with the notable exception that no children were harmed). The Bucs were giving up nearly 5 yards per carry before losing their best defensive lineman to injury on Sunday. The Texans have the league’s second-ranked rushing offense.

Redskins (+4) @ Dolphins

When you’re betting on two teams that aren’t very good, why not take the points and the clearly better defense? In last week’s picks, I alluded to how bad Washington’s offense has been under John Beck, but that also serves to obscure the fact that the Redskins have allowed the seventh-fewest points in the league. I don’t think that either team will light up the scoreboard, so I’d take the points.

2011 Record ATS 23-23-2 (hooray for mediocrity!)

2010 Record ATS 25-17-1