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“Zoom” is probably an inaccurate verb for what’s going to happen Sunday in Week 15 when the Detroit Lions (6-7) visit the New York Jets (7-6) at MetLife Stadium for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff. But, I like the headline and the Jets are clearly the right side here.
I know, I know, the Lions have played really well lately. Detroit is 5-1 straight up (SU) and 6-0 against the spread (ATS) in the last six games. Hell, I’ve selected the Lions in their last two victories over the Jaguars and Vikings in Weeks 13-14.
Yet despite their instability at the QB position, the Jets are a better team than the Lions. NY has a higher net expected points added per play (EPA/play), net yard per play, net success rate, and SU record than Detroit.
Betting Details (DraftKings)
- Moneyline (ML): Lions (-105), JETS (-115)
- ATS: Lions -1 (-115), JETS -1 (-105)
- Total (O/U) — 44 — O: -110, U: -110
There’s an old-school football handicapping angle where you fade a road favorite the week after that same team was a home underdog. Usually, an overreaction is why a team goes from a home ‘dog to a road favorite.
Remember, the Lions opened as 3-point home ‘dogs vs. the Vikings in Week 14 but closed as 2.5-point favorites. Granted, New York flipped back to a favorite as I was finishing up my Lions-Jets handicap.
However, the “overreaction” point still stands. The market was right to back Detroit against a fraudulent Vikings squad.
But, that begs the question …
Who have the Lions beaten?
Most casual NFL fans knew Minnesota wasn’t as good as its record, which is why Detroit closes as a favorite last week. Still, it’s unfair to not give credit to the Lions for a win and cover in Week 14. That said, let’s audit Detroit’s other impressive performances since Week 9.
The Lions beat the Packers, Bears, and Giants in three straight then lost, but covered, vs. the Bills on Thanksgiving. Detroit followed that up with back-to-back home wins over the Jaguars and Vikings.
However, Green Bay’s defense is 26th in EPA/play, Chicago’s is 31st, New York’s is 29th, Jacksonville’s is 22nd, and Minnesota’s is 17th. That’s five below-average to terrible defenses.
The Lions had a solid performance against Buffalo in Week 12. But, it was a weird spot for the Bills. Their home game a week prior was relocated to Detroit due to a snowstorm and Thanksgiving is the Lions’ Super Bowl.
Detroit is +8 in turnover margin since Week 9 and turnover differential generally regresses to the mean. I feel stronger about this idea against an elite Jets defense that ranks sixth in defensive EPA/play.
Not only that but let’s …
Fade Lions QB Jared Goff on the road
This isn’t an anti-Jared Goff thing. Part of the reason I’ve won money betting on Detroit recently is because of Goff who’s having a good year. He is sixth in QBR and fourth in opponent-based efficiency, per Football Outsiders.
But, Goff’s home-road splits are night and day and he’s typically struggled outdoors in cold weather. The weather forecast for Sunday at MetLife Stadium is predicting sub-40° temperatures in double-digit MPH winds.
At home, Goff averages 277.1 passing yards per game with a 20/3 TD/INT ratio and a 106.9 QB Rating. On the road, Goff is putting up 227.0 passing yards per game with a 2/4 TD/INT ratio and an 81.0 QB Rating.
And this Lions team ain’t the greatest show on turf. They got shutout 29-0 in Week 5 by the Patriots and got trounced 24-6 by the Cowboys in the following a bye week.
Furthermore, this is a …
Buy-low spot for the Jets
New York is a combined +15 in first-down differential vs. its last three opponents since naming backup QB Mike White the starter in Week 12. More importantly, Detroit’s defense isn’t reliable either.
The Lions are tied with the Bears for the worst defensive EPA/play. Detroit’s defense is 31st in third-down conversion rate and 30th in red-zone scoring rate allowed. I.e. the Jets should have no moving the chains against the Lions.
Moreover, all three of NY’s ATS losses since Week 3 can be considered “bad beats.” The Vikings tried to lose to the Jets but miscues caused New York to choke that game away in Week 13.
A flukey walk-off punt return TD was the reason New York lost 10-3 as 3.5-point road ‘dogs to New England in Week 11. The Jets had a pick-six overturned due to a sketchy flag in a 22-17 loss to the Patriots as 3-point home ‘dogs in Week 9.
At the end of the day, both teams need this game like blood for their playoff hopes. So gimme NY’s home-field and defensive edge with coach Robert Saleh who’s pressed all the right buttons with this roster in 2022.
BET: Jets (-115) ML at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -2
FOLLOW GEOFF ON TWITTER: @Geoffery_Clark
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