Bet of the Day: Patriots to narrowly beat Jets in NFL Monday Night game

14th September 2021

These first seven weeks of the NFL have had their pleasant surprises – San Francisco going 6-0 after years of mediocrity – and their less cheerful points. At this stage of the season, the total of eight players ejected from games is a league record. Then again, if you’re a Dolphins fan, the knowledge that two of those were Miami players means that at least the ‘fins are leading the league in something this season. Tonight’s match is between two divisional rivals of the tanking Floridian side – the unbeaten, division-leading New England Patriots and the New York Jets, who picked up their first triumph of the season a week ago, shocking Dallas to improve to 1-5 and lose valuable ground in the race for 2020’s #1 draft pick.

On the face of it, this should be a straightforward victory for the Pats, even given the fact that they’re on the road. They’ve got a perfect record through the first six weeks of this season, and already handed out a pretty severe caning to this same opposition in Week 3. Tom Brady, at 42, is still every bit as effective under center as he was in his first Super Bowl a full 18 years ago. Nonetheless, Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has said that – with everyone playing as they can – the Jets offence can be unstoppable, and there are certainly plenty of potential performers they can pick from. So could the Jets get a speedy revenge for what took place four weeks ago?

Patriots’ defence is uncompromising

In truth, the record-breaking offence that seems to have been in New England since before anyone can remember has looked… less record-breaking this season. Brady’s release of a ball is still as quick as ever, but his offensive line has been unconvincing, meaning the future Hall of Famer has faced more pressure and taken more sacks than any QB would like, let alone one who’s well into his forties. His favourite target, Josh Gordon, left last week’s game against the Giants through injury, and will miss tonight’s game. A brief experiment with Antonio Brown ended after one game when the NFL announced it was investigating serious allegations related to the player’s personal life. The Patriots’ offence is, by its own high standards, underperforming.

The defence, however, is every bit as stubborn, nuggety and productive as always, hence the spotless win-loss record currently in place, and no wide receiver in the league ever enjoys going up against Stephon Gilmore. If Darnold really thinks that this offence is on its way to being unstoppable, he’ll have a front-row seat for tonight’s ultimate test of that tag. Most likely, the Patriots will find it fairly stoppable, and with 888 offering 2/1 on there being fewer than 36.5 points in the game, there are decent odds on offer if the teams find themselves duking it out in the trenches.

The system is stronger than the names

The absence of Gordon through injury, along with the issues the Pats are having at tight end – Rob Gronkowski has retired, Ryan Izzo misses out here through concussion, and Ben Watson is yet to play a down in a Patriots jersey thanks to a four-week drug ban – would sink most teams. Unfortunately for everyone who is not intimately involved with, or a fan of the Patriots, this is a club that keeps on keepin’ on – Brady aside, their offence is very light on genuine stars; they have a system, and it works seemingly no matter who’s involved.

Maybe it’s the fact that they haven’t played a particularly good team yet, but even in the absence of key players at important moments, the defending Super Bowl champions have kept winning. Part of the reason for that is the continuing versatility of running back James White. Capable of picking up smash-mouth yardage on the ground, catching out of the backfield, or even lining up as a wide receiver, White can hurt you if you forget for even a moment that he’s there. At 8/1 to score the game’s first touchdown with Paddy Power, he is very much a bargain, and his aforementioned versatility makes him a real danger in goal-line offence.

Spread flatters the Patriots

It’s hard to see the Jets overturning the received wisdom in this contest – as a club they are very much a work in progress, and coach Adam Gase, who worked in Miami until last winter, is painfully familiar with the Bill Belichick model. Several consecutive years of preferential draft positioning have, however, furnished the Jets with a decent collective of players, and they could well have enough to push a Pats side that isn’t the best in recent history. They may even get their noses in front early on

However, “push” does not mean “defeat”; there is a reason that one of these sides is 6-0 and the other is only a shock victory away from being 0-6. The visitors here are, simply, masters of winning games; give them an opening and they’ll clamp right on, not letting up until the game is done. The Jets, with a younger side, might well get in a position to win but not be able to apply the finishing touches. The point spread for this game, however, is set at 9.5 with the likes of Betway in the UK and with US books. We’d back the Jets to beat that spread – they may not complete the win against this most imposing of opponents, but they’ll likely keep any losing margin to single figures.

Bets of the Day

Jets (+9.5) to beat the point spread (Betway, 10/11); White to score first touchdown (Paddy Power, 8/1); Fewer than 36.5 points in game (888, 2/1)

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