The New York Jets Week 17 matchup against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bucs) is expected to be the third-biggest blowout of the entire weekend. The -13 point spread in favor of the Bucs is, though, the largest spread of the week in favor of the road team. Even without star receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans and starting running back Leonard Fournette, the people who set the lines are still very high on Tampa Bay.
Here are four predictions about Sunday’s Jets-Buccaneers game that might give you some clues on why this spread is so huge despite the circumstances.
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Jets Week 17 Predictions
4. Zach Wilson will throw two interceptions
Despite seven games with an interception in eleven starts and an equally 7-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio, Wilson only has two games this year with two or more picks and hasn’t thrown an interception in his last three games. This week, however, against a healed-up and ready Buccaneers secondary, it could be a long day for the rookie. His only hope of escaping this one with one pick or less is if the Jets can turn this game into a grind-it-out slugfest on the ground with rookie running back Michael Carter. Speaking of which…
3. Michael Carter will run for over 100 yards
The Buccaneers boast the league’s fourth-best run defense (87.5 yards per game allowed), so if the Jets are going to get Carter over 100, it is going to be through sheer volume. The Jets have no reason not to employ the same strategy that New England employed against the Bills three weeks ago when they ran the ball over 40 times and infamously passed on just three occasions.
2. This will be the Jets’ best defensive effort of the year
The Bucs’ are coming into this one banged up on offense and are trying to work new backs into their system if Leonard Fournette is not able to return for the NFC playoffs in two weeks. Last week against Carolina, Brady was more conservative than normal and it was evident that this offense was a work in progress. Last week was the first time that the Buccaneers have run the ball more times than they passed for the entire season!
1. The Jets will cover the 13 point spread
This one seems kind of an easy pick because we expect the score to stay so low that winning by more than 13 just doesn’t seem likely for either team. Although the Bucs’ are the better team in the standings and on the defensive side of the ball, it is fair to ask if this version of the Bucs’ offense is any better than the Jets’ new and improved offense with Wilson making fewer mistakes with the football. Whether that is an indictment on Tampa Bay or a reflection of the Jets’ recent offensive improvements is in the eye of the beholder. The game this Sunday will also give us a good gauge of that, getting to see Wilson up close and personal with the ferocious Bucs’ defense will be a very good test for the rookie in the penultimate game of his first NFL season.