In the first Monday night intra-divisional NFL Preview, Week 9 will feature two AFC East teams who are facing one another with losing records for the first time in over 24 years and will look to get their seasons back on track. The New England Patriots, an organization that has won this division in 16 of the 19 seasons in this millennium, are in unfamiliar territory sitting at 2-5 and are outside of the playoff picture. They will try to right the ship on Monday night against a New York Jets squad seeking their first victory of the season, as they are the last winless team in 2020.
– Monday Night Football Preview –
Patriots at Jets
New England (-8.5) at New York | Over/Under 42
After being 20 point underdogs in Week 8, the Jets will only be single-digit dogs on Monday night at 8.5 points. The underdog role is nothing new for New York as they have only been favored in one game this season (Week 4 against Denver) and their opponents have been favored by more than 6.5 points in all their other contests, which isn’t hard to believe given their performance this season. This puts prospective betters in a peculiar spot as New England will get the luxury of playing arguably the worst team in the league and be granted over 8 points in the spread but they have also struggled themselves in recent weeks and have not beaten a team by that margin since Week 3. While there may be a group of betters willing to take the Jets and hope they can keep the game close to cover the spread, New York is just not a team I would be willing to take that chance on for Monday night. Bet the Patriots and take the points.
With an Over/Under line of 42, Vegas predicts this will be the lowest-scoring contest of Week 9; and they have a good reason. In their last four games, New York has failed to score more than 10 points per game, including this season’s only shutout in Week 6 versus Miami. New England has also had their fair share of issues, averaging just over 12 points per game in their last four weeks and they scored more than 20 points last week against the Bills for the first time this season since Week 3. Even though 42 is extremely low for an Over/Under line, based on the way these teams have played it may be one of the safest bets in Week 9. Take the Under for Monday night.
Viewership: Streaming Sports in 2020
With the over/under just 42 points, we might have a very slow-paced game. In fact, the viewership might be one of the lowest watched Monday Night games in quite some time, even more so with people streaming the game. The ability to stream games or any form of content these days has really thrown off true TV ratings. I personally stream shows all the time. I watch 101greatgoals live streaming, most of my News coverage, and even NFL games. Yahoo! Sports App includes every NFL network you need to watch every NFL game in your market.
During the first few weeks of the season, it looked like Cam Newton was bound to live up to the hype that surrounded him when he joined the Patriots. Through Weeks 1 and 2, Newton was ranked as the QB3, finding success as the dual-threat weapon he had been in his prime with Carolina. Since then, however, Newton’s production has taken a major dip as he has fallen all the way to QB24 through Week 8. Part of that has been due to his positive COVID test, causing him to miss Week 4 and potentially having an effect on his overall health since then.
He will have an opportunity on Monday night to reclaim his early-season glory against a Jets defense that has been one of the worst against fantasy quarterbacks this season (depending on scoring format). They are ranked as the third-worst defense against that position and have allowed three top-five weekly performances in eight weeks, most notably a historic game against Patrick Mahomes in Week 8. Newton will have the proper matchup on Monday night to get a solid amount of air and ground production as New York has allowed 155 rushing yards to quarterbacks so far in 2020. As long as he is starting this week, Newton will have a QB1 level performance on Monday night.
Sam Darnold, the young and hopeful savior for Jets fans everywhere, has had a very rough season so far. He has been dealing with a shoulder injury since Week 4 which has caused him to miss Weeks 5 and 6. Joe Flacco started in place of Darnold in those games but was not able to do much better. In fact, the Jets’ signal-callers are having an almost impressively arduous season from a fantasy standpoint. No Jets quarterback has had a weekly performance higher than QB20 outside of Week 4 where Darnold was the QB8 (depending on scoring format), but even that was buoyed by a 46-yard rushing touchdown that accounted for over 40% of his fantasy production that day. New York is among three teams this season (Denver and Indianapolis being the other) to have two or less top twenty weekly performances through Week 8, making them a less than reliable position group to start in fantasy each week. That unease will not change for this week as Darnold is doubtful for Monday night and they are facing a New England defense that is the second-best against fantasy quarterbacks through Week 8 (depending on scoring format). Stay away from Darnold or Flacco, if he gets the start, this week.
Since the departure of Le’Veon Bell, the Jets have used a tandem of running backs to fill the void left by their former starter in Frank Gore and La’Mical Perine. They have taken a majority of the snaps since Week 6 but have had trouble finding steady production in these games. Both players rank outside of the top 30 running backs in PPR scoring formats in Weeks 6-8 with Perine at RB33 and Gore at RB42 respectively. Perine and Gore have had double-digit touches in the past two weeks but have yet to gain more than 60 scrimmage yards in either contest and only have one touchdown between the two of them in that same timeframe, making them a pair to stay far away from for fantasy. While their matchup against New England is surprisingly favorable (the Patriots have allowed the seventh-most rushing yards in the league through Week 8), neither running back has shown enough in recent weeks to make me confident that they could capitalize on this defense. Keep Gore and Perine on your bench/waiver wire for Monday night.
New England has five running backs on their team with at least 14 carries through Week 8 as they have dealt with injuries and other circumstances in this position group all season. While the Patriots as a team may be one of the league’s best in many rushing categories, a majority of that workload has come from Newton behind center himself; as he represents over 26% of the team’s total rushing attempts and yardage and 60% of their rushing touchdowns. That leaves a lot to be desired for this group but they may have found their guy in Damien Harris. Harris, who was seldom used in 2019, has had two games this season with over 100 rushing yards including in Week 8 where he had 102 yards on 16 attempts and one touchdown. He seems to be the hot hand running back and should be relied on heavily Monday night by Bill Belichick and company assuming he plays this week after limited practices due to an ankle injury. Assuming he is active and ready to go, start Harris this week and look for RB2 level production from him Monday night. If he is inactive, keep all other Patroits running backs on your bench/waiver wire this week.
One of the weakest position groups on New England’s roster in recent years has been at wide receiver. Even when they were among the top teams in the AFC, they have failed to find any difference-makers to aid the offense alongside Julian Edelman. This year has been even more difficult due to Edelman missing time with a knee injury. Now the Patriots will have to rely on guys like Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd going forward into Monday night and beyond. They also have 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry who should be a major factor in the offense but he suffered a concussion in Week 7 and his status remains questionable for Week 9. While their matchup on Monday night against a porous Jets secondary is extremely appetizing (New York has allowed the third-most receiving yards and the fourth-most receptions to wide receivers through Week 8), it will be hard to trust any of these New England wide receivers based on the overall struggle of the Patriots passing game in recent weeks and the other options that are available this week. If you were looking to play anyone from this group, however, Meyers will be the best bet. He has led the team in targets in the last two weeks (16) and has been on the field for over 88% of offensive snaps in that same timeframe, showing his role in the offense has solidified. Meyers has WR3 upside for Monday night but is someone who should be left on your bench/waiver wire if other options are available, along with all other Patoits wide receivers until further notice.
Despite being one of the worst passing offenses in the NFL, the Jets have actually had some wide receivers find fantasy relevance in 2020, namely in Jamison Crowder and Braxton Berrios. In games where Crowder has been active, he has not disappointed fantasy owners with each game being a double-digit performance (in PPR scoring formats) including multiple games with over 100 receiving yards and a touchdown. The hardest part for him has been staying on the field, however, as he has battled multiple injuries in 2020 including a hamstring injury that caused him to miss Weeks 2 and 3 as well as a groin injury that has forced him out in recent weeks and may cause him to miss Monday night. If he is somehow able to practice in some capacity this week and can be active for Monday night, he will be a startable option this week; even in the face of a very tough New England defense that is the eighth-best against fantasy wide receivers through Week 8 (depending on scoring format).
Berrios is another player for New York that has had some great performances so far in 2020. In Weeks 2-3, he was the WR14 in PPR scoring formats and looked to cement himself as a reliable option for Darnold going forward. However, he has struggled to find that same early-season magic in recent weeks, as Berrios has had fewer receiving yards and touchdowns in Weeks 6-8 than he did during Weeks 2-3. While he may not be producing at the same level he once was, his performance in Week 8 was encouraging as he had eight receptions on eleven targets for 34 yards, marking his best game in weeks. Going into Monday night Berrios should be one of the most targeted players on the Jets, with or without Crowder on the field, giving him a high floor that could make him an interesting player to start this week. But, based on the matchup it is hard to believe he will have enough upside to start over other options available on your bench/waiver wire, so keep Berrios there for Monday night.
Neither team playing on Monday night has a tight end that has been fantasy relevant in 2020. Chris Herndon was a sleeper pick for some fantasy owners who were looking to capitalize on the success he had back in 2018 with the Jets but he has completely fallen flat, ranking as the TE53 in PPR scoring formats through Week 8. Ryan Izzo is not much better, ranking as the TE56 in PPR scoring formats in the same timeframe. Both players are yet to have a double-digit performance (in PPR scoring formats) this season and there is no reason to believe that will change Monday night. While the Jets have been particularly bad at containing this position group this season, ranking as the sixth-worst defense against fantasy tight ends through Week 8 (depending on scoring format), Herndon and Izzo are players that need to remain on your bench/waiver wire this week.
While it is common practice in fantasy football to stream D/ST units against teams with weak offenses, this year’s Jets team has become a shining example of that concept in motion. Through Week 8, every D/ST that has started against New York has finished as a top 12 D/ST unit that week with five finishing in at least the top six units (depending on scoring format). This offense has been a blessing to anyone able to start a D/ST against it and the Patriots will be no exception on Monday night. New England’s defense is among the best league in terms of quarterback pressure per dropback percentage (25.4%) and turnovers (12). Their D/ST will be able to feast on in this matchup and sh0uld be considered one of the best options for Week 9.
The Jets D/ST has had some surprising performances so far this season, including Week 3 where they were able to get three interceptions and score a touchdown against Denver. Since then, however, their D/ST unit has been unstartable; as they have allowed an average of just under 27 points per game and only averaged one turnover and sack in Weeks 4-8. While New England’s offense has been one of the lowest-scoring and most turnover-prone so far this year, the recent performance of New York’s D/ST has me looking elsewhere this week for streaming options. Leave the Jets D/ST on your bench/waiver wire for Monday night.
In what is usually a one-sided series, this particular matchup on Monday night should be closer than it has been in recent years. With both offenses struggling to produce, this game will come down to whose defense can create more opportunities for their offense. Whether that be by creating turnovers or simply forcing their opponent to punt series after series, this will give their own offense more chances to put points on the board and will help decide this contest. Seeing as how New York has been forced to punt an average of 5.5 times per game through Week 8 and New England has the better overall talent on their defense, this is a game that should go the Patriots’ way. I am taking New England by a score of 21-10.
Brandon Sysak is an staff writer for Gridiron Experts. I have been covering different aspects of the NFL, fantasy football and the NFL Draft since 2017. I am originally from Midland, MI but now reside in the Cincinnati, OH area. I began my career with Gridiron Experts covering the 2017 College Football National Championship.