New England Patriots (6-2) at Denver Broncos (3-5)
This line has the Broncos as 7.5 point home underdogs against the Patriots and I don’t understand it. The Broncos were just 7 point road underdogs in Philadelphia last week and the Eagles are playing significantly better than the Patriots this season. The Broncos lost that game 51-23, but the Eagles were in a great spot heading into a bye and the Broncos likely quit once they got down big early, knowing that they had this game against the Patriots on deck. They should be a lot more focused for this game and they are back at home, where they are 3-1 this season, with wins over the Chargers, Cowboys, and Raiders.
The Broncos’ big loss in Philadelphia last week moved this line from 5.5 on the early line to 7.5, a sizeable shift considering about 15% of games are decided by 6-7 points. I think even 5.5 would be too high as I have this line calculated at New England -3. Even after by far their worst defensive showing of the year last week, the Broncos still rank 5th in first down rate allowed and they still have a top-5 defense on paper. Prior to last week, Denver ranked 1st in the NFL in first down rate allowed. Their offense has major problems led by Brock Osweiler, but the Patriots rank 31st in first down rate allowed and the Broncos might be able to run the ball effectively and hide Osweiler, especially if the game is going to be close.
The one concern with taking the Broncos is that the Patriots are coming off of a bye and road favorites of 3.5 or more points are 40-16 ATS since 1989 after a regular season bye when their opponent is not coming off of a bye. The Patriots don’t come out of the bye healthy though, with defensive tackle Malcom Brown, right tackle Marcus Cannon, and wide receiver Chris Hogan out this week. I’m not sure the Patriots deserve to even be 3.5 point road favorites and I definitely think 7.5 is way too high for this line. Without another strong option this week, this is my Pick of the Week.
New England Patriots 20 Denver Broncos 17
Pick against the spread: Denver +7.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week