When online betting group Sportsbook.com opened the wild-card weekend betting lines earlier this week, the odds-makers had the Jets-Colts point spread set with Indy a three-point favorite. Thanks to the early NFL betting crowd jumping on New York, the line was quickly adjusted to 2.5 points.
This is a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship game won by the Colts 30-17 despite being down by double-digits early.
At first glance it appears as each team is moving in the opposite direction. Thanks to a myriad of injuries, the Colts started the season 6-6 and were in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2001. However, Peyton Manning solved his turnover problems as the Colts managed to win their last four regular season games and a seventh AFC South crown in the last eight years.
The Jets, on the other hand, started off hot but cooled down the stretch. After going 9-2 over the first 11 weeks, the Jets dropped three of their last five games, even though an AFC East title was well in their reach. New York also hasn’t been kind to the football betting crowd recently. They started the season going 5-1 against the spread (ATS); however, in their last 10 games they covered the point spread just four times.
Manning has gotten some much needed help in the backfield; over the past few weeks, running backs Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes have returned to action. Surprisingly the Colt backs could be in for a decent day.
The Jets had the third most effective rushing defenses in the NFL this season, giving up just 90.9 rushing yards per game. However, over the final five weeks of the season, the Jets gave up 100-plus rushing yards to their opponent four times.
The key for the Jets covering the point spread and perhaps winning the game outright will rest on the shoulders of quarterback Mark Sanchez. After a brilliant start to the season, the second year signal-caller has plummeted back to earth.
In his first four games, he threw eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. Additionally, he registered a triple-digit QB rating in three of those games. He has tallied just one game with a QB rating of 100-plus and while throwing just nine touchdowns to 13 picks since.
Now, the major factor that plays in the Jets' favor is who they have beaten. They handed the New England Patriots one of their two losses. Additionally, they marched into Pittsburgh a few weeks ago and won outright, despite being six-point dogs. For those keeping score, that is two victories over the two top seeds in the AFC.
Meanwhile, the Colts haven’t beaten anyone. Sure they took care of business at the end of the season to knock out four straight victories; however, none of those four teams had a winning record. Additionally, they have just one victory over a playoff team all season.
It’s hard not to take Manning over Sanchez; however, the Colts are nowhere near the team of years past. Take the Jets and the 2.5 points at Sportsbook.com.