We have a great matchup to close off a tricky Week 9 board as the New York Jets host the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night. This is a tough game to call as we’ll dive into the matchup, the situation, and the schedule down below.
As we all know by this point, Aaron Rodgers Achilles injury drastically changed the course of the Jets season, as Zach Wilson was forced back into action. The Jets have found some success this season with a 4-3 record, despite Wilson’s performance as perhaps the worst QB in the league (dead last in EPA/play at -0.235).
The Jets defense has been great and they’ve needed it, ranking 6th in defensive DVOA and 2nd in PFF’s overall defense ranking. I bring up Rodgers again to compare the current line of Jets +3.5 to the preseason line of -2.
Obviously, we know there’s a major drop off at the QB position that accounts for most of this line shift, but it’s interesting to note how strongly the projection has moved. Meanwhile, this line was just Jets -1 two weeks ago before the stinker performance by this Jets offense in Week 8 against the Giants.
Situationally, this is a difficult travel spot for the Chargers. The Jets host them in NY coming off a “road’ game against the Giants at MetLife. The Chargers now travel cross country after routing the Bears at home in a 30-13 victory.
It was an important game for the Chargers to avoid, getting a layup matchup against a backup QB at home after taking two straight losses to the Cowboys and Chiefs. I’m not ready to put much stock into the Chargers following this victory given how bad their defense has been this season.
Their Week 8 victory against the Bears was the only game thus far in 2023 where the Chargers maintained a lead and buried an opponent, despite matchups against inferior opponents. The 27th ranked team in defensive DVOA hasn’t performed to expectation despite the star power, ranking in the bottom ten of pressure rate and ranks worst in the league in yards per attempt allowed.
We have a classic example of strength on strength in this matchup. The Chargers offense will go up against one of the better pass defenses in the league, while the paltry passing attack of the Jets will match up against a defense that hasn’t been able to stop anyone this season.
Given the Chargers propensity to keep their opponent in the game, I think getting 3.5 at home is too much for the Jets. I don’t have much confidence that the Jets offense can hang with the Chargers in terms of points scored, but will rely on their defense to force turnovers and perhaps give Zach Wilson an opportunity in a short field.
The Jets will need their playmakers Garret Wilson and Breece Hall to show up in a big way on Monday night, but I believe the Chargers defense has more than enough holes for them to exploit.
Looking at the injury report, it's encouraging to see this Jets defense looking healthy with both Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed off the injury report. I expect this pass rush to continue to terrorize opposing QBs, leading the league in both hurry% and pressure rate, led by the Williams brothers and CJ Mosely.
As is the case with many Jets games, if Zach Wilson can avoid turnovers and the defense continues to perform at an elite level, they have the game script to beat good teams. Catching +3.5 given the matchup and travel spot for the Chargers is too many points despite Zach Wilson’s struggles.
I make the Jets a 1% play at +3.5. I would also correlate the Jets ML to the under, as I don’t see them staying in this game if the Chargers are scoring more than 20 points. If you like the Chargers in this one, I’d look to Austin Ekeler props rather than laying -3.5 on the road.
If the Chargers intend to win this game they’ll need to perform far better than they have in the ground game and would be better suited to avoid throwing interceptions against this vaunted Jets pass defense.