New England Patriots (3-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)
The Patriots are just 3-4 with their three wins coming against the worst teams in the league in the Texans and the Jets (twice), but they’ve been very close to picking up a couple other wins, with three of their four losses coming by a final score of 1 point, 2 points, and in overtime. They lost to the Saints by 15, but across their other three losses they were losing by a combined 3 points at the end of regulation, including near wins over a pair of top level teams in the Cowboys and Buccaneers. Meanwhile, their three wins have come by a combined 63 points, with their win over the Texans only being close because the Patriots were missing almost all of their offensive line in that game.
If the Patriots’ offensive line had been healthy in that game and had a couple things broken differently in their losses, the Patriots could easily be 5-2 or 6-1 right now with several blowout wins and some close wins against tougher opponents. Obviously none of that matters in the standings, but from a handicapping standpoint it’s not hard to see how this team could be significantly better than their record, especially now with their offensive line healthy again.
The Chargers are 4-2, but they are kind of in an opposite situation, as just one of their wins has come by more than one score, a trend that actually dates back to last season, when their only multi-score wins came against the 1-win Jaguars and the Chiefs backups in a meaningless week 17 game. In fact, just 4 of the Chargers’ 11 wins over the past two seasons have come by more than 5 points, which is very relevant considering this line is at 5.
Those wins have also come against those aforementioned Jaguars and Chiefs, as well as the 2-win Jets and a win over the Chiefs earlier this season by 6, in which they won the turnover battle by 4, which is not something they can count on every week. In two seasons, they have beaten just one quality team by more than 5 points and even that win could have been a loss if not for a takeaway or two. The Chargers are also somewhat going in the opposite direction injury wise from the Patriots, particularly on the offensive line, which is now down a pair of week one starters.
At the very least, these two teams should be considered about equal, as both teams are legitimately a couple plays away from having very different resumes, but my roster rankings have the Patriots actually as 2 points better with these two teams in their current situation injury wise. Add in the fact that the Chargers have next to no homefield advantage in Los Angeles, where they usually play in front of road crowds, (13-19 ATS at home since moving, as opposed to 20-13 ATS on the road) and you could make an argument for the Patriots being favored by a point or two in this matchup, or at least being even. Given that, we are getting a ton of value with the Patriots at +5. Even if they do lose, it should be a close game, so I’m very confident in New England at that number.
New England Patriots 23 Los Angeles Chargers 20 Upset Pick +180
Pick against the spread: New England +5
Confidence: Pick of the Week