New York Jets (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS)
Week 5 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 9, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: NYJ +7/PIT +7
Over/Under Total: 48.5
The New York Jets come to Heinz Field to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. The Jets are starting to fall into a hole and could use a positive development, though it might be hard to find at Heinz Field against the Steelers, who looked dynamic on Sunday night with an utterly dominant win over the Chiefs, 43-14. The Jets, meanwhile, lost their second in a row with a 27-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at home. They could really use a win this week before this season starts to get away from a Jets bunch that showed so much promise last season.
The Pittsburgh offensive stat line read like the perfect story for the Steelers on Sunday. Le'Veon Bell returned for the first time after a suspension and it didn't take long for him to announce his presence. He had 144 yards on the ground and caught five balls. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 300 yards and five touchdowns with no picks. Antonio Brown caught two touchdown passes. Sammie Coates, who is giving the Steelers a big boost with the suspension of Martavis Bryant, caught 6 passes for 79 yards. Darrius Heyward-Bey (questionable) and Markus Wheaton caught TD passes, with TE Jesse James even hauling in a score. It was like the perfect offensive exhibition for the Steelers, with all key pieces lending a hand. And with Bell back in there, it really makes things come together. They weren't that bad without him, but with him in there, things could start getting really interesting with this group.
Pittsburgh needed the win against Kansas City on Sunday Night Football after being embarrassed by the Eagles the previous week, losing 34-3 in a bizarre exhibition of incompetence against a surprise Philly bunch. But it shows that sometimes against the right defense and combination of factors, the Steelers offense and defense can be thrown for a loop. The result was atoned for with the dominant win over a good KC team, but it showed something perhaps for future opponents. At home against the spiraling Jets might not be one of those times to worry about that type of showing, but we don't want to be too gung-ho about the Steelers.
The Steelers defense is a unit that is coming around. Again, the collapse against the Eagles was not a good moment for this group, but in their other three games, they've allowed a combined 47 points. The pass-defense has been a bit leaky through three games, while they've done well stuffing the run. The front seven looks pretty fierce and will be even more so when Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones (both questionable) return, which will boost the middle a lot. Against the Chiefs, the offense did a lot of the work and took KC out of the game in quick order. But the "D" had the Chiefs scoreless through the first 3.5 quarters, only letting off the gas after building a 36-0 lead. There will be some knocks here and there, but this is a defense on the rise after a big improvement last season and if the secondary can overcome, they will be in good shape.
The Jets have some major issues. The one-point loss to open the season to the Bengals was a forgivable loss even if Cincy took the lead late. They followed that with a 37-31 win over Buffalo where the offense looked really good. It has looked anything but in the past two weeks. Ryan Fitzpatrick has become errant with his arm, tossing 8 picks in the past two games. Along with ten picks this season, he has coughed up four fumbles. On one hand, you have to figure this won't continue at this clip and they have shown how good they look when clicking. They have a lot of tools on offense. Matt Forte gives them a legit back that can catch balls, as well. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker make a nice 1-2 punch with emergent receiver Quincy Enunwa second on the team in receiving. Decker was out on Sunday and should start working his way back into the offense soon. And those shoveling dirt on Fitzpatrick should take into account the adversity he has overcome in his career. After having trouble at Kansas City and against a tough Seattle "D," maybe he gets some relief against Pittsburgh, but maybe not.
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The Jets' line has been solid and is allowing very little to the opposing ground game. They've also been pretty adept at applying a pass-rush, albeit not with the consistency of last season. But just about everything else on this defense is not up to expectations. The secondary has been banged-up and has underachieved for the most part. With opposing defenses enjoying a turnover bonanza, the Jets have secured just a pair of turnovers on the season. Other than two picks from Marcus Williams, they've gotten nothing. And giving up the points they're allowing to lesser offenses, what can they come up with against the high-powered Steelers offense this week?
It's sometimes important to remember how things can be blown out of proportion. On one hand, you have a Steelers team coming off a spotlight Sunday night spot where they jumped all over Kansas City. They have Bell back and everything is hunky-dory. On the other hand is a Jets team where we see them losing, Ryan Fitzpatrick is getting knocked around and throwing picks and coughing up the ball left and right. It creates a contrast that is conveniently arrived-at. At their best, the Jets are more than capable of giving the Steelers a good game. With the season in danger of getting away from them, I see the Jets hanging in there for the cover.
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