Detroit Lions (7-3) at New England Patriots (8-2)
The Patriots have scored 243 points in the last 6 weeks since that embarrassing loss in Kansas City, more than 21 teams have scored all season. Over those past 6 weeks, they are moving the chains at an 82.74% rate, as opposed to 73.76% for their opponents. For comparison sake, in the first 4 weeks of the season, they moved the chains at a 66.96% rate, as opposed to 72.00% for their opponents. Their offense has gotten significantly better with the offensive line settling in and Rob Gronkowski returning to form, while their defense hasn’t really missed much of a beat without Chandler Jones and Jerod Mayo. The Lions, meanwhile, haven’t been as good as their record, as their 7-3 record has been powered by a 3-1 record in games decided by a touchdown or less. They rank 17th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving the chains at a 69.90% rate, as opposed to 69.66% for their opponents, a differential of 0.24%.
As a result, the public is all over the Patriots here and I love fading the public whenever it makes sense as they always lose money in the long run. I think it does here and I’m going against the Patriots this week, despite all that because the Patriots are in a bad spot. I think this is the week they slip up a little, as they typically do as big home favorites against non-conference opponents. They have never really gotten up for these types of games in the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era, going 4-11 ATS as home favorites of 7 or more against non-conference opponents since 2001.
On top of that, the Lions have an easy game at home against the Bears on deck, while the Patriots have arguably their toughest game of the season in Green Bay next week. Teams are 122-93 ATS since 2002 as non-divisional road underdogs before being divisional home favorites, while non-divisional home favorites are 76-106 ATS before being non-divisional road underdogs over that same time period. Combining the two, teams are 100-61 ATS since 2010 as underdogs before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs. On top of that, the Lions are currently projected to be favored by 7 points next week and touchdown underdogs are 62-38 ATS since 1989 before being touchdown favorites.
The Lions are also in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 110-73 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 93-51 ATS when it’s their 2nd straight (and not 3rd straight) road game and they next play a home game. Historically, teams cover at about a 65% rate in that situation. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 186-189 in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.28 points per game, as opposed to 260-376 in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.29 points per game. I hate going against the Patriots as well as they are playing and I think the Lions are a little overrated, but the Lions should be the right side.
New England Patriots 23 Detroit Lions 20
Pick against the spread: Detroit +7