New England Patriots (1-1) at Detroit Lions (0-2)
The Patriots lost last week in Jacksonville, but they get a much easier game this week in Detroit. The Lions have gone 9-7 in back-to-back seasons, but they have finished with a negative first down rate differential both seasons. They’ve had a productive passing game, but have really struggled to run the ball and play defense. They fired head coach Jim Caldwell and replaced him with Bill Belichick understudy Matt Patricia to bring more toughness, but have gotten off to an 0-2 start and now get by far their toughest game of the season, after starting with the Jets and 49ers. The Lions have not been good against tougher competition in recent years, going just 1-11 against eventual playoff teams since 2016.
Despite their loss last week, the Patriots are still an obvious playoff caliber team, even with their receiving corps in flux with Julian Edelman suspended for the first 4 games. They added Josh Gordon this week and, even if he doesn’t play more than a quarter of the snaps as a decoy, he can impact this game because he shifts coverages. Their defense is not healthy, missing defensive end Trey Flowers and safety Patrick Chung with concussions, but the Lions are far from healthy either, with cornerback Darius Slay, right guard TJ Lang, and defensive end Ezekiel Ansah all highly questionable with injuries. The Patriots have also been great off of a loss in the Belichick era, going 47-24 ATS after a loss since 2000 (37-18 ATS with Tom Brady). I wish the Patriots were healthier, but they should be focused after the loss and they should be able to take care of business and win by more than a touchdown against an inferior team that has not fared well against higher level competition.
New England Patriots 37 Detroit Lions 27
Pick against the spread: New England -6.5