The Thanksgiving Thursday triple-header concludes with an all-AFC East showdown as Tom Brady and the explosive New England Patriots travel to New York to battle the inconsistent Jets. The Patriots’ have been making waves in the lead-up to this game, as their offense looks simply amazing, though with the injury to their primary red zone threat in Rob Gronkowski, it may give hope to a scuffling Jets squad on Thursday evening.
Not only did the Patriots lose Gronkowski for up to six weeks, they lost him during a blowout game on an extra-point play. Talk about adding insult to injury! Nonetheless, the Pats remain one of the NFL’s premier teams and have to be up there when discussing Super Bowl contenders. Their offense has been prolific in recent weeks, and they looked dominant in Week 11 against the Indianapolis Colts. They sit comfortably atop the AFC East but you can bet they are desperate for a first-round bye in the playoffs to allow their injured players an extra week to heal. If that is going to be the case, no slip-ups, especially against the Jets, can be made. With Gronkowski out injured, it’ll be up to Aaron Hernandez to step up in his place, though he too has been nursing an ankle injury of his own and his status for Thursday remains iffy. Add in that key guard Logan Mankins remains out, and defensive end Chandler Jones is nursing an ankle injury, and New England could be very short-handed in New York. Though as is often the case,
Terrific Tom Brady remains active for the Pats, and that’s usually all this team needs.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets don’t have the luxury of a Tom Brady. Thus far in 2012, the Tebow and Sanchez experiment has predictably failed, and though this team is coming off an impressive road victory against the St. Louis Rams, a wealth of questions remain with this team. Their offense is among one of the worst in the league, and the injuries they’ve suffered on defense has left that unit shaky as well. Though they will get a bit of reprieve from the infirmary this week, it remains to be seen if it will be enough to slow down Brady and the Pats. Coming back into the fold will be linebacker Bryan Thomas, running back Bilal Powell, and key nose-tackle Sione Po’uha. Though these Jets have vastly underachieved in recent years, their 4-6 record leaves them with hope in the wide-open AFC. A surprise victory over the Patriots would give them momentum, and perhaps thoughts of securing an unlikely playoff position.
Patriots vs. Jets Betting Odds:
New England Patriots -7 (-110)
@ New York Jets +7 (-110)
Over 49 (-110)
Under 49 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Patriots vs. Jets Pick:
Though it’s virtually impossible to imagine backing the Jets in any spot, especially coming off a big victory, the Patriots without Rob Gronkowski are also a great unknown. Football fans saw the ineffectiveness of the New England attack when Gronkowski was non-existent during last year’s Super Bowl, and it will be interesting to watch the offense adapt in the coming weeks.
For now however, backing New England here against a very motivated Jets’ group doesn’t seem all that wise either. Thus, the right play in this final Thanksgiving Thursday lies with the Under 49 points. Now taking the Under in New England games in recent years has traditionally been a losing wager, but given the loss of Gronkowski for the Pats, don’t be surprised if New England finds things a little more difficult on Thursday evening. It’s often taken for granted just how instrumental he is to New England scoring. When you consider that Brady has looked his way on 70% of all snaps within the red zone this year, it shows you how reliant New England is on the big tight-end.
Add in the fact that the Jets really struggle defending the run and expect Bill Belichick to perhaps adopt more of running game than usual on Thursday night. Running plays of course will kill clock time by keeping it ticking. New York ranks 26th at stopping the ground attack so look for Stevan Ridley to come up with a big outing.
On the Jets side of the football, don’t expect much. The passing game can be tough for Sanchez, especially now with New England’s inclusion of Aqib Talib into their secondary. New York will look to run the football, in order to keep the ball out of Brady’s hands. Like their opponents, the Pats have been terrible against the rush in recent weeks.
Expect a lot of play-calls slanted toward the running game Thursday evening. Sure New England is accustomed to putting up huge numbers, but doing that in New York and without Gronkowski will not be an easy feat. The Pats will win this one, but the Jets will keep it close in a relatively low-scoring affair.
PICK = Under 49 (-110)