Some teams in the National Football League lead with their reputation. What they are known for can get in the way of what they truly are based on current factors.
Take the New England Patriots for example. Their proud tradition of 19 years of excellence that coincided with the career of Tom Brady leading the team on the field and Bill Belichick from the sidelines in Foxboro, ended last year when the greatest quarterback of all time took his act to Florida. In his wake, the Patriots suffered their first losing season, seven wins and nine losses, since 2000.
This year, New England is under the direction of rookie quarterback Mac Jones. He registered a quarterback rating of over a hundred, 102.6, last week in his debut against Miami. This has him join a class of five other rookie first round quarterbacks that registered triple digit ratings in their first pro game over the past dozen NFL seasons. That list includes Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Marcus Mariota, Carson Wentz and Sam Darnold.
Despite Jones’ solid first game effort, the Patriots lost their opener at home against AFC East Division rival Miami, 17-16.
Jones is not to be blamed; he played brilliantly for Belichick, but only got the Patriots into the endzone once against the Dolphins and, as previously stated, lost the game.
The New York Jets also unveiled their 2021 first round draft choice last Sunday, quarterback Zach Wilson.
He had a tougher time while the Jets offensive line was akin to a screen door trying to shield the wind as the rookie out of BYU was sacked six times during New York’s loss to Carolina, 19-14.
In other words, the Jets lost on the road to a Carolina team that may be a lot better than many yet realize, and New England lost at home to a talented Dolphins team. This week, the Patrios meet New York at MetLife Stadium, home of the Jets.
With a pair of rookie quarterbacks battling on the field for a pair of teams that both lost last week one might think this game would be close on the point spread.
It’s not now.
The books opened this game as the talent may have dictated, with New England favored by 3½ points. But the public thinks they know better, and they swarmed to the Patriots like bees to honey. By Monday night, the line had swelled to the Patriots by 5½ points, and has since moved up another notch as public opinion is backing New England like, well like, Brady was still there.
If the Patriots didn’t have the reputation built before Brady left, what we would be looking at here is a pair of rookie quarterbacks that didn’t win their openers meeting on the Jets home field. That is why the line was set where it was, yet the public is slow to readjust to the current state of affairs.
The Patriots simply aren’t that good right now.
And when they were good, for the ten seasons before 2020, the Jets had an edge over them against the point spread. This is not the first time the Patriots are lined up to get caught by a bloated point spread when they meet their division rivals. In Brady’s final ten seasons with New England he led the Patriots to 18 wins against only 2 losses versus New York. But in those same 20 games, the Jets had a winning record against the point spread, 10-9-1. The stat is even higher when the Jets get points at home against the Patriots, they are 6-3 against the spread in those games over the same time span.
If the Patriots were just a team that lost their home opener going on the road they would not be treated like a champion. This is not a championship team, this is a squad that had a losing record last year and are now under the direction of a rookie quarterback making his first road start against a division rival.
Are the Jets really that bad?
Is Jones better than Wilson?
We’ll know more after this game, but I’m betting the spread is a reflection more of reputation than current reality.
Qoxhi Picks: New York Jets (+6) over New England Patriots