The New England Patriots have been incredibly popular – and occasionally overpriced – for nearly 15 years. Expect the public to inflate the NFL odds for their Week 17 game against the Buffalo Bills.
Jason’s record after Week 15: 36-50-1 ATS, 18-26-1 Totals
Some years, the New England Patriots are more lovable than others. This is one of their good years. It’s been a decade since their last Super Bowl, and seven years since their Spygate-tainted perfect regular season. The 2014 Patriots (12-3 SU, 9-6 ATS) have a different narrative now; Tom Brady has become the grizzled veteran – more like peach fuzz, really – who’s led his team back to the NFC East title after the Pats looked like toast at 2-2.
The people love it, of course. According to the public money charts available online, New England has been the fourth most popular NFL pick in the league this season, and No. 4 over the past 30 days, as well. Chances are we’ll see plenty more action on the Pats this Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS) when they host the Buffalo Bills, who have opened as 11-point road dogs on our NFL odds after getting eliminated from the playoffs last week.
A Day of Rest
The Patriots might be the obvious favorites here, but as we’ve already discussed elsewhere, the sharps aren’t buying it. Our early consensus reports showed 100 percent support for the Bills (8-7 SU and ATS) before tapering off to 68 percent as we go to press. There’s a lot to like about the Bills, even if they won’t be going to the playoffs – again. But this football pick might have more to do with the Patriots and their motivation for Sunday’s game.
It’s not quite as if there’s nothing whatsoever on the line – or is there? Although New England has wrapped up a first-round bye in the AFC, there’s still a very good chance that the Patriots could earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the Bills. However, as we go to press, there’s an interesting dynamic with the other team in the picture: the Denver Broncos.
Take the Week Off
It’s late Monday afternoon as we write this, and the Broncos (11-3 SU, 7-7 ATS) have yet to play their Week 16 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. If Denver loses this game, the Patriots clinch home-field advantage, in which case there truly will be nothing for New England to play for in Week 17. If Denver wins, then the Patriots need to beat the Bills, or have the Broncos lose to the visiting Oakland Raiders. Ties will complicate things further. You’ll know by the time you read this whether or not the Patriots will have home-field advantage in their pocket.
Either way, how seriously will the Pats take their game against Buffalo? They have an incentive to use Week 17 as a glorified preseason game, taking it relatively easy on their starters and letting them heal up for the playoffs. Combine that with Buffalo being at least a half-decent team (No. 8 in efficiency through Week 15), plus the possibility of freezing rain over Foxborough, and you can see why the sharps would want to take the Bills and the points in what could be a low-scoring affair.
Sticking with the AFC, we also expect the betting public to open up big-time for the Indianapolis Colts (10-5 SU, 9-5-1 ATS) in their game against the awful Tennessee Titans (2-12 SU, 3-11-1 ATS). The Colts are locked in as the No. 4 seed with the AFC South title, so they should be taking it easy in Week 17. But the Titans could be actively trying to lose in order to (maybe) get the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
With that in mind, the sharps were on the Colts at a 62-percent clip in early betting, with Indianapolis opening as a 7.5-point road fave (–105) That price isn’t likely to get any better with the public pouring in on the Colts this weekend. They’re the No. 1 team on the public money charts, by the way. Everyone loves Andrew Luck – his name is Luck, after all, and their logo is a horseshoe.