Patriots Are Favored by 3 1/2 Points Over Jets Due to Home-Field Advantage
With the New England Patriots unbeaten at home and the New York Jets perfect on the road this season, something has to give when the teams meet in six days to determine the leader of their division.
Since both teams are tied for the National Football League’s best record at 9-2, homefield advantage is about the only reason Las Vegas oddsmakers make the Patriots the 3 1/2-point favorites for the Dec. 6 game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Three points is the average advantage given to a home team in the NFL.
“It’s basically an evenly matched game,” said Sean Van Patten, an oddsmaker at Las Vegas Sports Consultants, which advises Nevada sports books on gambling lines.
The Jets are 5-0 away from home this season, the best road record in the league, and have won eight straight regular-season road games overall. The last time coach Rex Ryan’s team lost in the regular season as the visiting team was more than a year ago -- in New England.
While the Jets are the NFL’s only team not to lose on the road this season, the Patriots are even better at home. New England has won 14 straight regular-season games at Gillette Stadium. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has won 25 consecutive home games dating back to 2006, tying the NFL record for most consecutive home wins by a quarterback set by Brett Favre in Green Bay from 1995-98.
The last time Brady lost at home during the regular season was on Nov. 12, 2006 -- against the Jets.
“This is really when you find out what the heart of each team is,” Brady, who missed all but one game in 2008 because of a knee injury, said yesterday during his weekly radio appearance on WEEI in Boston. “It’s huge.”
This is the latest in a season the teams have been tied and played a game to determine first place in the American Football Conference’s East Division. The last time they faced each other with so much at stake was in December 2004, when the Patriots were 12-2 and won 23-7 on the road against a Jets team that had a 10-4 record.
The Patriots went on to win the AFC East title, one of their six in the past seven seasons.
“They’ve been on top of this division for a long time and they’re not going to go away quietly,” Jets linebacker Bart Scott told reporters yesterday.
Brady, the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2007, is tied for the league lead with 23 touchdown passes this season while throwing only four interceptions. He’s helped the Patriots win eight of their past nine games since a 28-14 Week 2 loss to the Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
In that game, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez threw two of his three touchdown passes in the second half as New York outscored New England 18-0.
The Jets have also won eight of nine games since then, including one stretch in which they came through twice in overtime and had three other victories decided with less than 1:30 to play.
“They’re solid in all phases and in the games where they have had to make plays at the end, they’ve done it,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said yesterday during a news conference. “The common thread is that Sanchez has made plays.”
Belichick has always put more of an emphasis on games played after Thanksgiving. That’s when both teams last played, with the Patriots beating the Detroit Lions 45-24 and the Jets capping the holiday games with a 26-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Patriots and Jets will come into their Monday night matchup after having 10 days off.
“We’re confident going anywhere to play, they’re certainly confident playing at home,” Ryan told reporters yesterday. “It’s going to be, in my opinion, the best two teams in football squaring off against each other.”
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