New England Patriots at San Diego Chargers: 2014 Week 14 NFL Pick

New England Patriots (9-3) at San Diego Chargers (8-4)

On the season, the Patriots are moving the chains at a 78.05% rate, as opposed to 73.15% for their opponents, a differential of 4.90% that ranks 2nd in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Chargers move the chains at a 74.93% rate, as opposed to 73.64% for their opponents, a differential of 1.29% that ranks 13th in the NFL. That suggests that this line is too high at 4, especially since the Patriots haven’t been nearly as good on the road as they have been at home over the past 2 seasons.

While they are undefeated 15-0 at home over the past 2 seasons, outscoring opponents by an average of 13.93 points per game, they are just 7-8 on the road, outscoring opponents by an average of 2.20 points per game and going 5-10 ATS. This season, they are moving the chains at a 76.06% rate on the road, as opposed to 74.48% for their opponents, a differential of 1.58%. Meanwhile, they move the chains at a 79.73% rate, as opposed to 71.86% for their opponents, a differential of 7.87% at home.

However, when you consider that the Patriots have been significantly better since week 5, both at home and on the road, this line makes more sense. Their offensive line has settled in, Rob Gronkowski is back to 100%, and the braintrust of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick has made the mid-season adjustments once again, as they always do. Since week 5, they are moving the chains at an 82.37% rate, as opposed to 73.68% for their opponents, a differential of 8.69%. On the road since week 5, they are moving the chains at an 84.62% rate, as opposed to 74.44% for their opponents, a differential of 10.17%.

On top of that, the Patriots are in their 2nd straight road game.  Teams are 44-31 ATS as road favorites off of a road loss since 2008. 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 188-195 in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.53 points per game, as opposed to 266-382 in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.35 points per game. This line is a lot more appropriate when you consider that they’ve been much better since the first 4 weeks of the season and that this is their 2nd straight road game.

The Patriots are in a bad spot as an East Coast team playing a night game on the West Coast, a situation teams cover in only about a third of the time because of how circadian rhythms work. However, the Patriots flew to San Diego right after the Green Bay play and will have spent a week there so there shouldn’t be any jetlag issues. Bill Belichick understands this stuff. The Chargers are also in a bad spot as non-divisional home underdogs before being divisional home underdogs next week with Denver coming to town. Teams are 15-30 ATS in that spot since 2002. Meanwhile, Tom Brady is 32-15 ATS in his career off of a loss. I’m taking the Patriots, but I’m not that confident.

New England Patriots 27 San Diego Chargers 20

Pick against the spread: New England -4

Confidence: Low

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