The highest total on Sunday’s NFL odds board belongs to the Patriots and Chargers. The Patriots have the OVER at 8-4 thus far, but the Chargers have been inconsistent at 6-6.
Jason’s record after Week 13: 34-46-1 ATS, 17-20-1 Totals
You’d think the San Diego Chargers would be driving the OVER to the pay window nearly every week. They’ve got one of the league’s best offenses, and they’ve got one of the league’s worst defenses. That’s usually the recipe for a high-scoring contest. Not only that, San Diego has only played one game where the posted total was higher than 46. The Chargers even get to play almost all of their home games in pristine weather conditions.
No dice. San Diego has split the totals right down the middle at 6-6. Playing at The Q hasn’t made a difference – the over/under is 3-3 at home and 3-3 on the road. So what should our NFL pick be with the New England Patriots (OVER 8-4) coming to town for Sunday Night Football? According to the consensus reports, we should bet the OVER on the total of 51 points. That was the unanimous choice in early betting.
The Gates of Delirium
We might be inclined to agree with this one. When we made our football pick against the spread, we pointed out that the Chargers offense had an opportunity to exploit New England’s thin linebacker corps, with tight end Antonio Gates (47 catches, nine TDs) the likely beneficiary. It wasn’t enough to keep us from picking the Patriots, but San Diego still has an express lane available to the end zone.
The Bolts have also gone OVER in back-to-back games after being stuck in a zigzag pattern against the NFL betting odds. Last week’s 34-33 victory over the Baltimore Ravens (OVER 45.5) saw plenty of offense from both sides, although the total wasn’t eclipsed until the 8:47 mark of the fourth quarter. If the Chargers could do that on the road against Baltimore’s No. 9-ranked defense, Sunday’s game at The Q should be a breeze versus the No. 12-ranked Patriots (No. 16 pass, No. 16 rush).
Of course, it’s the Patriots offense that will motivate most people to pound the OVER this week. With… who’s their quarterback again? Tony Eason? Oh, right: Tom Brady (101.1 passer rating). He’s doing pretty well for an old guy. It helps tremendously that TE Rob Gronkowski (65 catches, nine TDs) has been relatively healthy this year. Wideouts Julian Edelman (77 catches, two TDs) and Brandon LaFell (53 catches, seven TDs) have been solid, high-volume receivers, and TE Tim Wright (24 catches, six TDs) has been sneaky-good since the Patriots started using two-TE packages again.
If we’re going to shine the spotlight on Gates and the Patriots linebackers, we have to do the same with New England’s tight ends and the Chargers defense. According to Football Outsiders, the No. 30-ranked San Diego D (No. 30 pass, No. 17 rush) is struggling against just about everyone on the field; versus tight ends, the Bolts are No. 21 in defensive efficiency, even though they’ve only allowed two TE touchdowns this year.
The Patriots have also been busy loading up on running backs for the stretch drive. LeGarrette Blount (4.6 yards per carry) was reunited with the team after the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to let him go; according to ESPN, Blount leads the league in yards after contact at 2.98. He’s run well in each of his two games with the Pats, racking up 136 yards in 22 carries.
Then you have that Jonas Gray guy. You might remember Gray from his 201-yard, four-TD performance against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 11. He’s barely touched the ball since then, but it’s nice to know Gray is available if Blount or Shane Vereen (4.3 yards per carry, 44 catches) falter. So many bullets, so little time.
Free NFL Pick: Take the OVER