It is mid-November and New York has not one, but two NFL teams still in the playoff race.
What a world.
The Giants are a three-point favorite (lines via Sports Betting Dime). And the Jets are 3.5-point underdogs. Here are the ESNY staff picks:
JETS AT PATRIOTS, 1 P.M. ET ON CBS
Matt Musico, editor. I thought the Jets were going to slay the Patriots dragon earlier this year, but was wrong by a lot. I’m going to go back to the well here. The key will be whether or not Zach Wilson can play mistake-free (or at least, close to mistake-free) football in Foxboro. He saw how that worked out in Week 9 against the Bills, so hopefully it’s imprinted on his brain now. Jets 24, Patriots 21.
Danny Small, staff writer. The Jets are a better team than the Patriots. New York outplayed New England for the most part in their first meeting. If they cut out the costly turnovers and Wilson doesn’t implode, they win that first game. They don’t mess around this time. Jets win big. Jets 24, Patriots 9.
Josh Benjamin, staff writer. The Jets will seek to avenge their Week 8 home loss to New England, quite the tall order for a game in Foxborough. Unfortunately for Gang Green, Bill Belichick’s known this rivalry for far too long (literally) and not only has his team clicking, but fresh off a bye. Patriots 24, Jets 20.
Ryan Honey, staff writer. This is the biggest game of the year thus far for the Jets and the most daunting task of Zach Wilson’s career. The fans will adore the young quarterback if he leads the Jets to victory; they will also call for his benching if he throws another three picks against the AFC East rivals.Unfortunately, I think head coach Bill Belichick has his way with the novice signal caller once again. In less than three games against the Pats, Wilson has only two touchdown passes, seven interceptions, and a paltry 50.5 passer rating. And there’s no sign of him taking off.The Pats’ defense is coming off a strong 26-3 win over the Colts, New England is 11th in pass defense, and the Jets’ offensive line and wide receiver Corey Davis are banged up. Patriots 21, Jets 13.
James Kratch, managing editor. The Jets’ first step toward beating the Patriots is to actually believe they can beat the Patriots. Yes, they failed to finish the deal a few weeks ago. But they controlled the game in the first half and they are coming off a breakthrough victory over the Bills. They should know they are up to the task now. And as long as Wilson protects the football, they will accomplish it. Jets 27, Patriots 24.
LIONS AT GIANTS, 1 P.M. ET ON FOX
Musico. The Giants avoided what appeared to be an obvious letdown game situation last Sunday against the Texans. Now they’re back in the swing of things with another winnable game against the Lions. This is New York’s last game before a crucial stretch against NFC East opponents, and I don’t think they waste this opportunity at home. Giants 27, Lions 18.
Small. The Giants are rolling right now. It wasn’t always pretty last Sunday against the Texans, but they still managed to cover. The Lions are great offensively, but suspect on defense. The Giants will take care of business against a lesser team. It’s tough to pick against them right now. Giants 27, Lions 21.
Benjamin. We all know the G-Men struggle against the run, but this time will be different. Dan Campbell won’t outcoach Brian Daboll like Pete Carroll did, and the Lions top-2 running backs are banged up. So long as New York doesn’t underestimate Detroit, the dream season continues. Giants 27, Lions 13.
Honey. Coming out of the Week 9 bye, the Giants had two huge games at home before enduring a rough part of the schedule that includes the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, the Eagles twice, and the Vikings.They won last week’s game over the Texans and expect another victory this Sunday against the Lions.New York is 7-2 based on great coaching, a dominant run game, a scrappy defense, and quarterback Daniel Jones limiting the turnovers. Luckily, the Lions sport the NFL’s second-worst run defense and are last in pass rush win rate. This should allow Saquon Barkley to find holes in the run game and Jones to manage the offense so they can take pressure off a Giants defense missing safety Xavier McKinney. Giants 23, Lions 10.
Kratch. This is basically a playoff game for the Giants. If they win and get to 8-2, only a complete collapse will keep them out of the playoffs. And while the talent is questionable, the coaching is too strong to allow such a meltdown. That said, the Lions score points. And they are surging. The Giants are long overdue for a stinker. And it finally happens here. Lions 27, Giants 24.
RECORDS TO DATE
T1-Musico: 12-6 against the spread, 11-7 straight-up.
T1-Small: 12-6, 11-7
3-Benjamin: 10-8, 11-7
4-Honey: 10-8, 10-8
5-Kratch: 9-9, 8-10
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]