NFL Week 3: Jets vs Colts Game Preview

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Even most New York Jets fans had low expectations this season, but coach Adam Gase’s squad has looked badly overmatched in consecutive weeks, falling at Buffalo 27-17 in Week 1 and getting blown out at home by the injury-plagued 49ers 31-13 in Week 2. By many metrics, they might be the worst team in the league right now and have become one of the popular NFL betting picks for the first draft pick. The Indianapolis Colts, meanwhile, have rebounded from their underwhelming Week 1 loss at Jacksonville, 27-20, and stomped the Vikings 28-11 in Week 2 behind 151 yards rushing and 3 forced turnovers. NFL betting lines are as wide as Colts -10.5 (the largest line in NFL Week 3 sports betting) because of the perceived mismatch.

The Jets and Colts have history with each other—the two teams met in Super Bowl III, won 16-7 by Joe Namath’s Jets—and recent history has surprisingly been on the Jets’ side, as they won 4 of the 5 matchups in the past decade. The Colts lead the all-time series, however, 42-32.

To many sportsbook casino line-makers, the current Jets’ squad looks like a team in disarray—going up against a Colts team that is starting to gel. There’s a reason NFL betting odds for an Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl win have been one of the fastest risers this season—from +6000 at season start to +2800 currently. (The New York Jets, meanwhile, have gone the opposite direction by the same metric, from +12500 healthy longshots to +30000—tied for worst odds in the league.)

As a result, NFL betting lines of Colts -10.5 and totals of 43/44 make sense.

The New York Jets face off at the line of scrimmage against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2011 AFC Wild Card playoff at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 8, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Key matchups to watch

Key matchups for the Indianapolis Colts in this NFL Week 3 tilt include both lines of scrimmage. The Jonathan Taylor-led rushing attack and elite offensive line dominated the Vikings in Week 2, just as the defensive front was able to get after Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, forcing a terrible day: 11-26 for 113 yards, including 3 picks, 3 sacks, and 7 quarterback hits. If the Colts’ defensive front can get after New York Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold the same way, we may see a repeat of last year’s infamous “seeing ghosts” performance.

For the Jets, key matchups may include tensions within their own team. Numerous reports came out this week that Jets’ players didn’t feel like they were practicing with any urgency, leading them to sleepwalk through games. While head coach Adam Gase disputed that there was a lack of urgency in practice, it’s clear that this season is getting away from him just as last season did, when the Jets struggled to a 1-7 record before picking it up in the season’s second half.

Let’s look a little more closely at each team.

New York Jets

Tackle Eric Smith #65 of the New York Jets in the huddle against the New York Giants during their Preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 08, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

For the New York Jets to nab their first win of the season in the NFL Week 3 action, they’ll need to play with much more urgency and far fewer mistakes than they have in either game thus far.

They’ve been picked apart defensively in consecutive weeks, giving up 306 passing yards to Buffalo’s Josh Allen in Week 1 and 182 rushing yards to the battered 49ers in Week 2. The Indianapolis Colts can beat them by air (where Phillip Rivers can connect with RB Nyheim Hines on short and intermediate throws and WRs T.Y. Hilton and Michael Pittman Jr. deep and across the middle against a suspect Jets secondary) and by ground (where Jonathan Taylor ate well and often against the Vikings). 

They’ve also been gouged in time of possession (the Bills controlled the clock for more than 40 minutes in Week 1) and have been pitiful on third and fourth down (converting 9 of 25 and 0 of 2, respectively, through two weeks). Penalties have also been a problem, with 14 penalties accepted (6th most in the league) for 160 yards (4th most) and 5 first downs. Many of those penalties have been a matter of discipline, too, with 2 defensive pass interference and 4 roughing the passer calls among those 14. None of that reflects well on head coach Adam Gase.

Additionally, the Jets may be down two starting offensive linemen, as both C Connor McGovern and RT George Fant are currently questionable for Sunday. That just makes it even more likely that Darnold is in for a long day.

As a result, a win here seems incredibly unlikely. Covering, however, might be possible—if Darnold can play largely mistake-free football; if RBs Frank Gore and Kalen Ballage can have efficient games out of the backfield; if WR Jamison Crowder can get separation and rack up yards after catch; if DT Quinnen Williams can disrupt the Colts backfield and get to Rivers. That’s a lot of ‘if’s though for a team that just has not looked good so far this season.

Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts mascot leads the team to the field before the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 15, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

If the Indianapolis Colts can play the same kind of game in NFL Week 3 action against the New York Jets as they did in Week 2 against the Vikings, they should have no problem picking up another win against the less-talented Jets. Similarly, even with the loss of S Malik Hooker (who tore his Achilles in Week 2 and is now out for the season), the Colts’ secondary is deep enough that Darnold shouldn’t be able to do much damage in Hooker’s absence. The loss of WR Parris Campbell is similar; Rivers has enough weapons that while he’ll miss Campbell, the offense shouldn’t miss a beat in running over the Jets.

To cover the spread, though, they’ll need to avoid letting up on the gas. If they run out to an early lead and then play less aggressively—or sit players to avoid injury on MetLife’s sticky field, which several 49ers blamed for their rash of injuries in Week 2, the Jets might be able to stick around.

Realistically, the Colts offensive line is too strong and too deep, and even if some starters get some rest, the Colts running game is likely to chew up clock against the Jets and keep things salted away if they do get out to an early lead.

NFL Week 3 Preview Summary

Not even New York Jets fans used to slow starts (such as last year’s 1-7 start) could have expected they’d look this hapless through two weeks. Nor, when RB Marlon Mack landed on the injured reserve, could many Indianapolis Colts fans have expected rookie Jonathan Taylor to step in so seamlessly in Week 2. But that’s where we are as we approach NFL week 3 action, and so it’s understandable—seeing how each team has diverged from the pre-season expectations—that we have NFL betting lines of -10.5 and 43/44 for the total at most sportsbook casinos and online sports betting sites.

Marcus Johnson #16 of the Indianapolis Colts in action against Morris Claiborne #21 of the New York Jets on October 14, 2018 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Betting Picks and Predictions

Some NFL betting picks like to stay away from high lines, especially when the money line spread is large, too (currently +420 and -527). If you’re considering online sports betting for this game, a few trends to keep in mind: The New York Jets are currently 0-2 against the spread and have been over in both Week 1 and Week 2; the Indianapolis Colts have split (over and lost in Week 1 against the Jaguars; under and covered in Week 2 against the Vikings). 

Our prediction: Indianapolis Colts 30, New York Jets 16

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