The NFL changes drastically on a week-to-week basis, and that's why the league is as captivating and popular as it is.
Last weekend, the New York Jets lost a home game to the New England Patriots. It felt like the type of game they needed to win to prove to their fans and people around the league they're for real. Instead, they lost the game. In the process, Zach Wilson threw three interceptions and basically handed the Patriots the game. All week, the New York media scrutinized Wilson and the growing notion was that the Jets missed on yet another franchise quarterback.
Fast forward to Week 9, where the Jets were a 10.5-point home underdog against the Buffalo Bills. The line opened at 13.5 points early, but a flurry of sharp action came in on the Jets, pushing the line way down. It turned out that the sharps were on to something.
The Jets defense held Josh Allen to just 205 passing yards, under a 53% completion percentage and zero touchdown passes. He threw two interceptions on top of that. To Allen's credit, he did add 86 yards and two scores on the ground, but he was forced to pull the ball down and run because the Jets effectively shut down Buffalo's passing attack. Not an easy task when the quarterback on the other side entered the week as a sizable favorite to win NFL MVP.
Wilson rebounded nicely for the Jets. They didn't ask him to do too much, as they ran the ball 34 times for 174 yards. However, when they needed a play, Wilson delivered. He completed 72% of his passes for 154 yards and a score. He had a boneheaded fumble, but he made one less mistake than Allen did and that was enough for the Jets to pull off the upset victory as a +425 underdog on the moneyline.
Early on, it looked like Buffalo might be on its way to a cover. The Bills opened up a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter. However, Michael Carter found the end zone for the Jets late in the first half and the Bills missed a 55-yard field goal as time expired, so the Jets were down just four points at the break.
New York opened the second half with a clinical 14-play drive that took nearly nine minutes off the clock before Wilson's aforementioned fumble. The Jets had points in their pocket as they were inside the red zone, but instead, they came up empty. However, the defense got the ball right back for them as Sauce Gardner picked Josh Allen. Four plays later, Wilson hit newly acquired James Robinson for a 7-yard catch-and-run score. Suddenly, the Jets had a second-half lead.
Buffalo tied the game with a field goal drive before the teams exchanged punts. With under eight minutes left, the Jets got the ball back on their own 4-yard line. They then went on the drive of their season. They ran the ball down Buffalo's throat and Wilson converted a key third down to Denzel Mims. Suddenly, we were on the other side of the two-minute warning, Buffalo was using their timeouts and New York was knocking on the door.
The Bills kept the Jets out of the end zone, but Greg Zuerlein hit a 28-yarder with 1:43 remaining on the clock to give the Jets the lead. However, we all know that's plenty of time for Josh Allen to at least get into field goal range. On the first play of the drive, a 26-yard completion to Stefon Diggs was wiped out due to an offensive holding penalty. On second down, the Bills botched a snap and suddenly they were way behind the chains. On third-and-21, Allen threw an incomplete pass. On fourth-and-21, it looked like Gabe Davis had a chance to make a play, but defensive rookie of the year favorite Sauce Gardner had other plans.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) November 6, 2022
Not only did the Jets get the cover as a sizable underdog, they got the outright victory. It's the second-largest upset of the NFL season from a point-spread perspective. Only Carolina's win over Tampa Bay in Week 7 was seen as a larger upset.
Double-digit favorites struggle ATS
There were three double-digit favorites entering Week 9 of the NFL season. The Bills were one of them, while the Philadelphia Eagles were 14-point favorites against the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs were 14-point favorites against the Tennessee Titans.
As mentioned above, the Bills lost outright to the Jets. While the Eagles and Chiefs went on to win their games, they failed to cover the spread. Teams laying double digits went 0-3 against the spread in Week 9 and are now 4-9 against the spread this season.
The Eagles were comfortably in control for most of the second half against the Texans. They came out a little slow and never got the margin wide enough to cover though. Houston played tough, and 14 points is a lot to cover on the road on a short week.
For Kansas City, it was a lot more of a scare. They trailed for most of the game and needed some heroics from Patrick Mahomes just to force overtime. Malik Willis got the start at quarterback for the Titans, and while he made some plays in the first half, Tennessee's offense fell off a cliff in the second half and overtime. It sure feels like if Ryan Tannehill got the start, the Chiefs probably lose that game outright. At least they got the win, even if they were never close to covering.
This upcoming weekend, two of these teams return to the large favorite role. Kansas City is a 10-point home favorite against the Jacksonville Jaguars while the Eagles are laying 10.5 points at home against the Washington Commanders. Jacksonville has made a living playing close games this season, while Washington has gotten increasingly pesky with Taylor Heinicke under center. It feels like another situation where it might be best to tread carefully laying big numbers.
Jets, Seahawks clinch win totals
When you place your season win total bets over the summer, there's an expectation that they'll come down to the wire. That money is probably gone until late December or early January. Oddsmakers are good at what they do and these lines usually end up being pretty accurate when you look back on them at the end of the season.
However, if you bet the Jets or Seattle Seahawks to go over their season win total, you're already getting paid.
Both teams opened the year with a win total of just 5.5 wins. The Jets were a young team with an unproven coach and a young quarterback who began the season injured. The Seahawks traded Russell Wilson in the offseason and it looked like they were potentially going to tank the season when they named Geno Smith their starting quarterback.
Of course, as it turns out, Smith is somehow an upgrade on Russell Wilson and we've been living a lie for the last decade. The Jets grew up way quicker than most people expected.
To bettors' credit, they believed in the Jets. At BetMGM, 69% of bets and 78% of the money was on them to go over 5.5 wins. However, the same can't be said about Seattle. Entering the season, 81% of bets and 84% of money was on the Seahawks to go under 5.5 wins.
If you've bet the over, you got some extra cash on hand for the holiday season already. If you bet the under, well, at least they got it out of the way quickly for you.
While the Jets and the Seahawks were the first two teams to have their win totals decided, we might have more coming soon. Atlanta needs just one more win to go over 4.5 wins. One more loss for Tampa Bay or Green Bay will clinch the under as the winning side for those teams.
Public struggles, unders dominate again
In the early window on Sunday, four sides received more than 60% of the betting action in their respective games. All four publicly backed sides failed to cover the spread.
The most popular bet was Carolina to cover as a 7.5-point underdog in Cincinnati. Overall, 73% of bets and 83% of the money was on the Panthers. However, P.J. Walker turned back into a pumpkin and was benched for Baker Mayfield at halftime with the Panthers already down 35-0. Mayfield led three scoring drives in the second half, but it wasn't nearly enough to get Carolina bettors to the window.
The second-most popular bet was Miami to cover as a 4.5-point favorite against the Chicago Bears. Miami got a 35-32 win, but obviously failed to cover as Justin Fields continues to develop and impress under center for the Bears.
Bettors also liked Green Bay as a 3.5-point favorite against Detroit and Las Vegas as a 2-point favorite against Jacksonville. Both teams lost outright.
Bettors got a little bit of it back later in the day. Seattle and Tennessee were popular bets and both teams got to the betting window for their backers.
As for totals, it continues to be an offensive struggle. Unders are 8-4 so far in Week 9, including an 8-3 record on Sunday. Overall on the season, unders are 79-55 and are hitting at a 59% rate. It surely doesn't seem like the scoring influx is imminent.