Monday Night Football Predictions: Jets at Falcons Week 5 Odds
by Alan Matthews - 10/4/2013
In a bit of a coincidence, we have our second straight Monday Night Football matchup of an AFC East club at an NFC West foe. However, while last Monday's Dolphins-Falcons matchup was between unbeatens, this week's Jets-Falcons game is a bit of a dog. They have combined for three wins thus far.
Certainly the Falcons are one of the NFL's biggest disappointments at 1-3 a season after winning an NFC-high 13 games and reaching the conference title game. Repeating as NFC South Champion won't happen -- the Saints have a three-game lead entering Week 5 -- but the playoffs aren't out of the question. Since 1990, the year the NFL expanded the playoff field to 12 teams, a total of 23 teams have reached the playoffs with a losing record through four weeks (only one of those was 0-4, the 1992 Chargers). The last to do it was Denver in 2011 when Tim Tebow took over the Broncos and led them to the AFC West title. Atlanta also pulled the trick in 2002. The 2001 Patriots are the only team to reach the Super Bowl when starting 1-3, and they won it.
If Atlanta can win this week, getting to 5-3 .500 is very doable. The Falcons are on a bye next week then host the dysfunctional (and now Josh Freeman free) Bucs, followed by visits to Arizona and Carolina. Those are all certainly winnable. As for the Jets, they had no playoff illusions this season but are a minor surprise at 2-2. The only game in which they were totally outclassed was last week's 38-13 loss at Tennessee.
Jets at Falcons Betting Story Lines
Geno Smith remains New York's starting quarterback, according to Coach Rex Ryan. Who else would he start? Mark Sanchez is likely out for the season, and the other two active QBs are Matt Simms and Brady Quinn. Those guys aren't ever going to be mistaken for Phil Simms or Tom Brady (sorry, the only QBs who had the last name Quinn were Jonathan and Mike, and they both barely played). Smith has thrown for at least 256 yards in three of four games, but he's been Sanchez-esque in turning the ball over. Smith and Eli Manning are tied for the NFL lead with 11 giveaways. Geno threw two picks and lost two fumbles against the Titans.
Smith's numbers aren't likely to be good Monday. Top receiver Santonio Holmes is out several weeks with a hamstring injury, and Stephen Hill is expected to sit at least a game with a concussion. Holmes has 10 receptions for 243 yards and a touchdown while Hill has 13 catches for 233 yards and one touchdown. Thus, Smith's starters are likely to be Jeremy Kerley and Clyde Gates. Not exactly Duper and Clayton or Rice and Taylor. New York will get running back Mike Goodson back as his four-game suspension is over. Bilal Powell has assumed the starting running back job and has been decent, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. The Jets are set to make a change on the offensive line as rookie third-round draft pick Brian Winters will replace a struggling Vladimir Ducasse at left guard. Ducasse's six penalties, all accrued in the past two games, are tied for the league lead. So are his three false-start flags.
So why is Atlanta struggling? The offense has been OK, No. 6 in total yards and 14th in scoring (23.5). But the Falcons have not been good in the red zone. They are 29th in the league in red-zone efficiency, scoring just seven touchdowns in 18 trips (38.9 percent) inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Steven Jackson would help that problem, but he hasn't played since Sept. 15 with a hamstring injury. He's not going to play this week, either. Receiver Roddy White has been playing through an ankle injury and has been very ineffective with 10 catches for 84 yards and no TDs (seven scores in 2012). He needs to sit a few weeks but doesn't want his consecutive games streak (now at 132) to end.
Atlanta will be without two starters on Monday: left tackle Sam Baker and starting middle linebacker Akeem Dent. Lamar Holmes, who lost the starting right tackle job to Jeremy Trueblood, will take Baker's spot. Atlanta is already thin at linebacker without its best defensive player, Sean Weatherspoon.
Jets at Falcons Monday Night Football Week 5 NFL Betting Odds and Trends
At Bovada, the Falcons are 10-point favorites with a total of 43.5. New York is 3-1 ATS (1-1 on road) and 2-2 “over/under” (1-1 away). Atlanta is 1-3 ATS (1-1 at home) and 3-1 O/U (2-0 at home). The Jets are 2-5 ATS in their past seven after a loss. New York is 1-5 ATS in its past six after allowing more than 30 points in its previous game. The Falcons are 2-5 ATS in their past seven Monday games. They are 1-4 ATS in their past five after an ATS loss. The under is 5-2 in the Jets' past seven after an ATS loss. The over is 4-1 in Atlanta's past five after an ATS loss.
Monday Night Football Predictions: Jets at Falcons Betting Picks for Week 5
Atlanta, which has dropped back-to-back games in the same season for the first time since losing to Philadelphia and New Orleans in 2009, is going to play very desperate. I really don't see that Jets offense doing much without Holmes and Hill. It's also the first road start for Smith in a dome, and the rookie won't be ready for the noise. Take the Falcons and the under. I expect something like 27-10.
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