As NFL Week 14 dawns, Week 13 was a classic week for the dogs.
While NJ sportsbooks lit a figurative bonfire — prohibitive favorites the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers losing outright to burn reams of parlay tickets — bettors were reminded about the law of averages.
Even great teams have limits, and no team is a horror show, except one.
Welcome to the intrigue of NJ sports betting.
Football Five examines the implications of “Why they play the games,” or, in the case of the New York Jets, “Why you can’t be five seconds short.”
Week 14 means Jets short on time
Will the New York Jets finish the 2020 season 0-16?
Call it the last of the extreme season wagers available via the books. The other was the Steelers finishing the season 16-0, but they were toppled by the Washington Football Team on Monday.
DraftKings Sportsbook has reduced the 0-12 Jets to a virtual even-money pick to go 0-16. It’s -110 either way, meaning it’s no longer unlikely for the Jets to reach perfect imperfection.
Only the 2017 Cleveland Browns and 2008 Detroit Lions have ever had the season’s table run on them.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 0-14 in 1976, stretching the futility to a modern-day mark of 26 before winning a game in 1977.
How do you handicap it? The Jets, unfortunately, have a strong chance of hitting the mark, as three of their four remaining opponents have winning records.
Here is the remaining schedule:
- Seahawks (8-4) away
- Rams (8-4) away
- Browns (9-3) home
- Patriots (6-6) away
What’s amazing about this drought is that it isn’t happening to a horrible team.
DraftKings tabbed the Jets for 6.5 wins before the season started. This was the best second-half team in the entire AFC East last year, 6-2. But the Jets plummeted.
It takes a few cruel and unusual developments to create a winless season.
The Jets feature two. They had the Patriots practically beaten, but their offense made two critical ball-control errors, and they lost on the final play last month.
But the biggest dagger of all was Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders.
HEARTBREAK IN THE MEADOWLANDS pic.twitter.com/YxGryJMTmk
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) December 6, 2020
They came within five seconds of a victory, so close that they fired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams over an all-out defensive blitz enabling the touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Henry Ruggs III on the Raiders’ final offensive play.
The Jets are showing up but finding ways to lose close home games. All season long, the sentiment has been that they’d win a game sooner or later. Now the books call it 50-50.
Bettors have another perspective, of course. The Jets are 4-2 recently against the spread.
Are the Pittsburgh Steelers showing cracks in their foundation?
So why did it happen?
How did the Pittsburgh Steelers lose to Washington when they had a 14-point lead? How did they squander a 14-0 first-half lead and lose their first game of the year, 23-17, to the Washington Football Team at Heinz Field?
The Steelers were 6-0 at home this season prior to Monday night’s game.
Besides Washington’s excellent defensive line and the team coming together, here are the factors:
- Focus: The Steelers, inexplicably, dropped a multitude of short passes for the second straight week. Their offense is geared around the short timing pass, setting up receivers to break a tackle and hit a long gain. The drops were not forced.
- Lack of a running game: FanDuel Sportsbook bettors playing the in-game Ben Roethlisberger passing attempts prop of 44 like the fact he threw 53 Monday, but defenses will catch up to that in big games. Good teams will eventually chase Big Ben from the pocket even if they don’t sack him if they don’t worry about the run.
- Big plays went the wrong way: When Pittsburgh led 7-0, it had first-and-goal from the Washington 1 and got stuffed. Getting no points there hurt.
- Lack of trust: The Steelers could have tried a long field goal with the game tied 17-17 late. But they went for it on the fourth down rather than try a field goal with their new kicker. The pass was dropped, and Washington promptly came down the field and kicked the go-ahead field goal.
- Defense can’t do it all: The Steelers gave up a third-and-16 for a first down, leading to a second-half Washington TD. Plus, the Pittsburgh defense allowed a long drive to tie the game late.
The Buffalo Bills are up next on Sunday, Pittsburgh will look to retool. No longer chasing destiny, they will try to find offensive balance the rest of the season. They may even rest Roethlisberger, who has been playing through an injured left knee.
Washington win impacts NFC East odds
The NFC East race looks like a stock market ticker. One unexpected result drives volatility through the odds board. DraftKings Sportsbook updated it Wednesday to read:
After a wild week, the New York Giants move to -143 to win the NFC East 😳 pic.twitter.com/xkmJtTz9uQ
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) December 9, 2020
The cream has risen to the top. A month ago, the Eagles had prohibitive odds. Now +1400 looks generous.
Upcoming games: The Giants host the Arizona Cardinals as a slight dog.
Washington visits the San Francisco 49ers in their adopted home of Glendale, AZ. Washington is a medium-size dog.
This was a big week for the NFC East, with Washington and the New York Giants defeating playoff teams on the road. And this will be an interesting division fight to the wire.
Pats vs. Chargers and the lopsided under
Here’s a head-scratcher involving the league’s largest season blowout and a bizarre over-under.
Would the league’s largest margin of victory come from the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs or Green Bay Packers?
Nope. How about a middle-of-the-road team in one of the year’s strangest games?
New England’s 45-0 blitz of the host Los Angeles Chargers was unusual for many reasons. The Patriots were +2 and still unleashed this 45-point whupping.
Forty-five points were supplied by one team. The over was 47, and it somehow lost.
That frustrated PointsBet gamblers, who had ridden the over total to the tune of 69%. And this bet would look pocketed given these developments:
- New England helped the total with a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown.
- The Pats helped further with a blocked field goal, resulting in a touchdown on the final play of the first half.
- The Chargers have exceeded 30 points four times this season. All they needed was one score. One.
Instead, the Chargers became the first home team to suffer a shutout this season (two other road teams did) and, like the Jets, look to have serious coaching problems. The team featuring likely rookie-of-the-year quarterback Justin Herbert broke down in all phases.
That’s why they play the games.
Crazy postscript to this oddity: Even after the blowout, the Chargers have scored more points than the Patriots this season.
Was this an aberration, or can New England continue its magic? The Patriots return to the same stadium Thursday night, opening Week 14 against the Los Angeles Rams.
What Eagles are facing in Week 14
A tip of the hat to New Orleans coach Sean Payton, who has worked wonders even with Drew Brees hurt. Brees is tentatively slated to return against the Eagles on Sunday, and the Saints have the league’s longest winning streak, nine games.
#Saints QB Drew Brees, progressing well in his rehab from a lung puncture & fractured ribs, won’t practice much, if at all, today, I’m told. He’s eligible to come off IR now. They could ramp him up Thursday to see how he feels, but a more realistic target to play has been W15.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 9, 2020
Even without Brees, the Saints are 8-0. And in the three games he has missed this year, New Orleans is 3-0, with three covers. The offense has been good enough, and the defense has been stellar.
Photo by Associated Press