Thursday Night Football, well known to be a fuck show, often requires us to have some skin in the game to find it enjoyable. Let's see what our options are.
The matchup: The Jets travel to Indianapolis as 10.5 point dogs. Future Hall of Famer Mike White, fresh off his 405 yard, AFC offensive player of the week performance, will get the nod. While the world pays attention strictly to volume based stats, I was more interested in how he was able to pull this together. The facts:
- Of his 45 attempts, zero passes traveled over 20 yards
- 24 passes (75.5%) traveled less than 10 yards
- His averaged depth of target (aDOT) was 4.5
- He targeted running backs on 19 passes (42%)
In laymen's terms: Mikey White dinked and dunked the Bengals to death. This isn't a knock on White per say, the plan was successful and the Jets won the game. The dude completed 82.2% of his passes -- 90.7% when you adjust for drops, throwaways, etc. Short passes are also something that the Colts don't defend well -- they're 22nd in DVOA in short passes and 23rd against passes to running backs. However, we know that this isn't a strategy that can work long term. The Colts can game plan against it, and they have decent coverage linebackers (Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke). I'm not trying to totally write off that White can't do anything other than dink and dunk -- but until we see some proof that he can, I'm going to assume that the 2018 5th rounder out of Western Kentucky who hadn't taken a snap until his 4th year in the league doesn't have anything else in his toolbox. The Jets are 28th in offensive DVOA and should be treated accordingly. Meanwhile, the Colts defense is 5th in DVOA and don't have any noticeable weaknesses to attack. They've had their issues at corner, thanks mostly to Xavier Rhodes slumping, but this isn't a defense that can be easily picked on.
On the other side of the ball, we have Carson Wentz, the hardest quarterback to predict in the game. He had just a single turnover worthy play through 6 weeks before throwing 7 combined in his last two games. This is a "get right" spot against the Jets who are 28th in defensive DVOA (27th against the pass). Thanks to John Franklin-Myers and Quinnen Williams, the Jets have a somewhat decent pass rush, ranking 10th in the NFL in pass rush grades. However, every other part of their defense is hot garbage, and the Colts line (which has struggled this year) is getting heathier with RT Braden Smith back. The Colts are 19th in offensive DVOA, with splits of 22nd against the pass and 12th against the run.
The spread: The line opened Sunday Night at 10.5 and hasn't budged since. The model threw out a strength of 0.44, third lowest of the week, which is model talk for saying there isn't value in betting either side. The model prefers the Jets, but we believe a strength of 3 is required for there to be a big enough edge to overcome the vig. 40% of tickets and 68% of cash is on the Colts -- some view this disparity as proof that "sharp money" is on the Colts. I view it as Vegas is clearly ok with taking more money on the Jets since they haven't moved the line. Either way, I'll trust the model and fade the sides entirely.
The total: The total is sitting at 45.5 - 46.5 depending on which book you're looking at. 45.5 is the consensus. Both teams play slowly, the Colts rank 31st in seconds per play in situation neutral plays and the Jets rank 23rd. With the large spread and advantage that the Colts have in the run game/disadvantage the Jets have in the pass game, I'd take the under at 46.5. At 45.5 I'd lean under, though I don't love that number.
Jack Doyle over 9.5 receiving yards (-115): you can get this line at any book, the best offer is currently BetMGM at -111. The consensus projection has Doyle around 18 receiving yards. That number is on the low side because Doyle has had 3 straight subpar games, including two air balls where he didn't catch a ball. Mo Alie-Cox is clearly the best receiving tight end on the team, but Doyle continues to run more routes than him. If Doyle falls below 9.5 receiving yards tonight, he'll be the first primary tight end to do so against the Jets this season.
Tyler Kroft over 9.5 receiving yards (-110): You can find this number at any book, though the vig fluctuates between -110 and -115. Anyway, I'm getting real sick of these mediocre tight ends being disrespected with single digit receiving props. Kroft's consensus is 16, and he's gone over that number in 3/5 games this year. He came back from a back injury last week and took over the TE 1 role from Ryan Griffin, running 25 routes to Griffin's 18. The Jets will need to throw as double-digit dogs, and the Colts are 20th in DVOA against tight ends. They've also given up 63.1 yards on average to tight ends, 10th worst in the league.
Zach Pascal under 3.5 receptions (+130): 3.5 is the consensus projection for Pascal, so if either side offered dog odds, I'd take it. Pascal has never gone above 5 catches this seasonT and has been under 3.5 in exactly half of his games. He also has a sneaky tough matchup -- Pascal runs most of his routes out of the slot, and Jets slot CB Michael Carter II has been stingy, ranking 26th in PFF grades among all CBs.