Fans of the New England Patriots are foaming at the mouth, but they should be worrying about Denver being favored by nearly a field goal on the Week 12 NFL lines.
Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to November 19 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
The New England Patriots have nobody to blame but themselves. They were down 24-20 to the Carolina Panthers on Monday night, and they had just one minute left to drive the ball downfield – which they nearly did, but on the last play, the referees picked up a flag that had been thrown for defensive pass interference in the end zone. Carolina won the game and beat the NFL odds as 3-point home faves.
I had Carolina (and the UNDER), so easy for me to say. But if you’re an aggrieved Patriots supporter, there’s no point getting worked up over Monday’s last minute of play. There were 59 other minutes in that game that count just as much, and New England had its share of favorable calls. No NFL bet is worth tilting over. Just remember all the times you got paid when a call went your way, and focus on the thing that matters most: the next game.
Sunday Night Live
And what a game it is. We’re talking Sunday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) with the mighty Denver Broncos coming to town in a potential AFC Championship preview. The Broncos (9-1 SU, 6-3-1 ATS) are coming off a 27-17 victory over the previously undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, cashing in as 7.5-point home faves and taking over first place in the AFC West. The Week 12 NFL betting lines have Denver favored again at –2.5 for Sunday’s matchup in Foxborough.
I guess it’s only fair to point out I whiffed on the Broncos-Chiefs game. What was I smoking? Actually, Denver gets full credit for stepping up at the defensive end, forcing Kansas City to punt seven times and scooping up an Anthony Sherman fumble at the Denver 18. This was an unusually solid performance for a team that had the No. 20-ranked defense in the league going into Week 11. You can make that No. 17 overall (No. 21 pass, No. 8 rush) following the win over the Chiefs.
Manning: Valuable Player
It’s usually pretty easy to pull the trigger and fade a team that has a fantastic offense and a substandard defense. But the Denver Broncos don’t have just any offense. They have one of the very best offenses to grace an NFL field in the past 25 years. Through Week 11, Denver has out-produced every other team in the league (No. 1 pass, No. 12 rush), and QB Peyton Manning is almost certainly going to win his fifth MVP award. Manning leads the league in just about every positive QB statistic, both standard and advanced:
Touchdowns: 34 (No. 1)
Completions: 286 (No. 1)
Completion percentage: 69.9 (No. 2)
Passing yards: 3,572 (No. 1)
Passer rating: 118.3 (No. 2)
Passing DYAR: 1,630 (No. 1)
Passing DVOA: 45.7 percent (No. 2)
QBR: 82.8 (No. 1)
We could go on. Suffice to say, Manning is The Man at this point. New England QB Tom Brady, on the other hand, is having a so-so year for the Patriots (7-3 SU, 5-5 ATS), who sit at No. 11 on the offensive efficiency charts (No. 14 pass, No. 7 rush) following their encounter with the Panthers. As for the New England defense, it slips from No. 10 to No. 14 overall (No. 13 pass, No. 19 rush) through Week 11; CB Aqib Talib re-injured his hip late in the Carolina game and is uncertain for Sunday night.
The Broncos are also unsure whether WR Wes Welker (concussion) will be ready for Sunday, but I’m going to go ahead and make them my NFL pick anyway. If Denver can play defense like this the rest of the way, look out.
NFL Pick: Take the Broncos –2.5 (–104) at SBOBET