Two unbeaten teams square off here in what should be an interesting match-up of one of the NFL's top offensive teams against what looks like one of the NFL's best defensive teams.
New Orleans was the NFL's best offense last season and the Saints have averaged 6.6 yards per play and 40 points in 3 games against teams that would combine to allow 5.2 yppl to an average team. New York, meanwhile, has yielded just 4.2 yppl and 11 points per game to good offensive teams Houston, New England and Tennessee - who would combine to average 5.9 yppl against an average defensive team.
The Jets would actually have an advantage over New Orleans' offense based on this year's games (NO is +1.4 yppl on offense and NYJ is +1.7 yppl on defense), but my ratings actually give the Saints a slight 0.1 yppl advantage when they have the ball. New Orleans is a better team this season because their defense has gone from worse than average to good, allowing just 4.9 yppl to teams that would combine to average 5.3 yppl against an average team. New York rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez is getting a lot of praise, but he's averaged his 6.3 yards per pass play against teams that would combine to allow 6.8 yppp to an average quarterback.
The Jets' rushing attack has also been below average and New York's offense has been 0.6 yppl worse than average through 3 games (5.2 yppl against teams that would allow 5.8 yppl to an average team). In fact, after gaining 6.6 yppl against Houston's horrible defense in the opener, the Jets have managed just 4.3 yppl.
The Jets may be able to slow the Saints down to league average production but their offense is likely to be held below 20 points and my ratings favor the Saints by 7 points with a total of just 42 1/2 points.
The unbeaten Jets may not be getting enough respect here and unbeaten teams (3-0 or better) are a perfect 9-0 ATS as underdogs of 7 points or more the last 17 seasons.
However, my studies have shown that very good offense has an advantage over very good defense, especially at home, and New Orleans applies to a 54-24-3 ATS statistical match-up indicator that is based on that premise.
I'll lean with the Saints at -7 or less.
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