New England Patriots (6-4) at Atlanta Falcons (4-5)
These two teams had very different weeks last week, with the Patriots beating the Browns by 38 and the Falcons losing to the Cowboys by 40. Typically, a team who gets blown out fares better the following week against the spread than a team that wins by a wide margin, as teams tend to be overlooked, undervalued, and embarrassed after a blowout loss and, as a result, cover the spread at a 58.1% rate. However, I am not sure that fully applies here with the Falcons as, while they could easily be overlooked by the Patriots and they could play a much more focused game after being embarrassed, they also aren’t undervalued by the oddsmakers.
This spread has shifted up to a full touchdown from the four points the Patriots were favored by on the early line last week and normally I like to fade a significant line movement like that, as it tends to be an overreaction to a single week of play, but, in this case, I think the line is still too low, as the line was too low to begin with and a significant shift was justified after the results of last week’s games. The Patriots’ win was even more impressive than most realize because, like the Patriots, the Browns are legitimately a few plays away from having 2-3 more wins and, coming into last week’s game, the Browns were one of just two teams in the league to rank in the top-10 in first down rate, yards per play, first down rate allowed, and yards per play allowed.
Meanwhile, the Falcons’ loss was even more concerning than most realize because the Falcons have faced a very easy schedule overall this season and now have been blown out by two of the three teams they have faced with a winning record, with the exception being a win over the Saints, who are starting a backup quarterback. Aside from their win over the Saints, the Falcons’ wins have come against teams who are a combined 8-20 on the season, with none possessing a record better than 3-6.
Six of the Falcons’ nine results this season would have covered this seven point spread, but the Patriots are much more in line with the three teams who beat the Falcons by multiple scores (Eagles, Buccaneers, and Cowboys) than the teams the Falcons have played closely or beaten (Saints, Washington, Panthers, Jets, Giants, and Dolphins). Their loss to the Buccaneers could have been closer had it not been for two pick sixes, but they also lost the first down rate battle by 7.11% in that game. Overall, the Falcons rank 27th, 22nd, and 32nd in schedule adjusted offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency, while the Patriots rank 13th, 6th, and 8th.
Despite their records being somewhat similar, this is a matchup between a team in the top quarter of the league and a team in the bottom and my calculated line has the Patriots favored by 10 in this game, so even with the significant line movement up to seven, we are still getting value with the Patriots. It’s not quite enough line value to bet the Patriots, who could still be in a bad spot against a team who was just blown out and, as a result, could bounce back with one of their best efforts of the season, but if this line moves down to 6.5 before gametime or if Falcons feature back Cordarrelle Patterson, currently a game-time decision, is ruled out, I would recommend betting the Patriots. I will have an update if either of those things happen.
Update: This line has dropped to 6.5 across the board despite it looking unlikely that Cordarrelle Patterson will play. I am going to lock this in now because it could go back up after Patterson is ruled out and even if he plays I like New England enough to bet them.
New England Patriots 27 Atlanta Falcons 17
Pick against the spread: New England -6.5