Los Angeles Rams (4-7) at New England Patriots (9-2)
The Patriots enter this game 2nd in first down rate differential, despite the fact that they were missing starting quarterback Tom Brady for the first 4 games of the season, but there’s still plenty of reason to be concerned with them. Their defense hasn’t been the same since they controversially traded away linebacker Jamie Collins mid-season and now their offense will likely be without Rob Gronkowski with a back injury for the rest of the season. On top of that, their schedule has been remarkably easy since Brady’s return, with their only tough opponent being the Seahawks, who beat them in New England back in week 10.
Fortunately for them, their schedule doesn’t get any tougher this week, with the Rams coming to town. The Rams have managed to win 4 games, but rank 31st in first down rate differential and 27th in point differential (-66). Their 4 wins have come by a combined 18 points, while their 7 losses have come by a combined 84 points. While the Patriots will obviously miss Gronkowski this week, the Rams could miss defensive end Robert Quinn almost as much, as he is their top pass rusher and will miss this game with a concussion.
On top of that, the Patriots are in a better spot than the Rams. While the Rams have to turn around and host a good Atlanta team, the Patriots host the Ravens next week, a game in which they are expected to be double digit favorites once again (the early line has them at 10). Favorites of 6 or more are 93-52 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 6 or more again, as good teams tend to take care of business when they don’t have any upcoming distractions. On the other side, teams are 41-91 ATS since 2012 before being road underdogs of 4.5 or more, which the Rams figure to be next week, as upcoming big home games tend to be a distraction for teams.
That being said, this line is too high at 13 for me to bet anything on the Patriots with confidence. They are a different team without Gronkowski and Collins. The Rams are also in a good spot, in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 140-105 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 111-72 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. 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 234-248 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.83 points per game, as opposed to 331-464 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.01 points per game. New England is the pick, but it’s a low confidence pick.
New England Patriots 27 Los Angeles Rams 10
Pick against the spread: New England -13