This week’s lines are from USAToday.com (as of Thursday night).
Houston at New York Jets (+9)
The Jets were demolished last week against the 49ers, losing 34-0. Things won’t get any better this week with them facing another top team in the Houston Texans, who look to stay undefeated.
The Jets rank near the bottom in both offense and defense. Mark Sanchez has been pitiful this season, completing only 49.2 percent of his passes with a quarterback rating of 69.6. Their top wide receiver, Santonio Holmes, is out for the season and their wide receiver corps is among the worst in the league, comprising of Stephen Hill, Chaz Schilens and Jeremy Kerley. The Texans defense is the best in the NFL, ranking first in total yards allowed (273) and points allowed (14). Don’t expect to see many scoring opportunities for this pathetic Jets offense.
On defense, the Jets are 31st in the league against the rush, giving up 173 yards a game. Look for the Texans to pound the ball with Arian Foster, who is averaging almost 26 carries a game. Foster is in for a big game, and his backup, Ben Tate, looks to be a gametime decision with an injured toe. Third stringer Justin Forsett may be called in early for mop up duty. Houston is averging 31.5 points a game, second in the NFL. They shouldn’t have a problem putting up 30-plus points against the Jets defense.
After another embarrassing loss this week, it may be Tim Tebow time in New York sooner than later.
Houston is 4-0 against the spread for the season while the Jets are 2-2.
Gimme the Texans minus the points.
Chicago at Jacksonville (+4.5)
The Bears defense wreaked havoc on the Dallas Cowboys last week, intercepting Tony Romo five times and returning two of them for touchdowns. They’ll look to carry over that success this week as the Jaguars are dead last in the league in points scored (15.5 per game) and total yards (256 yards per game). Chicago’s defense is third in the league against the run, giving up only 67.2 yards per game. Maurice Jones-Drew is the Jaguars only offensive weapon and the Bears main focus will be to stop him and force Blaine Gabbert to make some plays with his arm, which will create more turnover opportunities for the Bears defense.
The Bears have plenty of weapons on offense and will move the ball easily against the Jaguars defense, which is ranked 26th in the league, giving up almost 405 yards per game. Matt Forte and Michael Bush will look to get the running game back on track against the 30th-ranked run defense in the NFL.
The Bears are 3-1 against the spread for the season while the Jaguars are 1-3 against the spread.
Gimme the Bears minus the points.
Denver at New England (O/U 52)
The two high-powered offenses meet this week after blowing out their opponents in Week 4. The Patriots were down 21-7 early last week but then went on to outscore the Buffalo Bills 45-7 to win the game, 52-28. Meanwhile, the Broncos had an easy 37-6 win over the Oakland Raiders.
New England’s offense, which comes as no surprise, is ranked first in the NFL in total yards (438.2) and points per game (33.5). The Patriots actually have a run game this year with Stevan Ridley leading the attack, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Ridley and rookie Brandon Bolden combined for 243 yards and three touchdowns last week. Tom Brady started the season a little slow but looked to be in mid-season form last week, throwing for three touchdowns. For the season, Brady has seven touchdowns to one interception with a 102.4 quarterback rating.
Peyton Manning and the Broncos are averaging 28.5 points per game, good for seventh in the NFL. While he may not be the Manning of old, he still has enough in the tank to lead his team down the field. Manning has talented wide receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas to throw to, along with old time favorite, Brandon Stokley.
The Patriots defense is giving up 281 yards per game, ranking 25th in the NFL, while ranking eighth against the run (86 yards per game). The Broncos are giving up a respectable 220.5 pass yards per game, ranking 13th in the league.
Look for another Brady/Manning high scoring game.
Gimme the over.