Patriots Undervalued by NFL Odds in Matchup vs. Chargers?

Jason Lake

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 2:45 PM GMT

New England may have lost last week, but they still might be the best team in the league. They’ll get another crack at the NFL odds when they visit the San Diego Chargers on Sunday Night Football.

Jason’s record after Week 12: 32-44-1 ATS, 14-20-1 Totals
When we go back and look at the 2014 New England Patriots, it might seem ludicrous that they were underdogs in five of their regular-season games. But don’t forget where they were at the end of September: 2-2 SU and 1-3 ATS. People were talking about whether or not Tom Brady was washed up. Apparently not yet – the Patriots won their next seven games at 6-1 ATS before losing 26-21 to the Green Bay Packers (–2.5) at Lambeau Field.

Barring some unforeseen disaster, the Patriots won’t be on the wrong side of the NFL odds for the rest of the regular season. That includes Sunday night’s matchup (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) against the San Diego Chargers, who opened as 3-point home dogs before moving quickly to +3.5. Were you one of the early bettors who got in before the spread moved off the magic number three? Well done.

 

Diamond Dogs
The 2014 Patriots (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) might not be as potent as the 2007 model, which went undefeated all the way to the Super Bowl. But this year’s performance might be more impressive, all things considered. Let’s revisit the other four games where New England was getting points rather than giving them:

Week 5: Bengals 17, Patriots 43 (NE +2.5)
Week 6: Patriots 37, Bills 22 (NE +1)
Week 9: Broncos 21, Patriots 43 (NE +3)
Week 11: Patriots 42, Colts 20 (NE +3)

That’s a pretty good run right there. The Pats didn’t just beat their favored foes – they crushed them by at least two touchdowns. They also played a very good game against the Packers before coming up short. Even with that loss, Pro Football Reference has New England pegged as the best team in the league at plus-15.1 SRS. Football Outsiders preferred the Broncos going into Week 13, but there’s no need to split hairs about these rankings. Point is, the Patriots are on a big-time roll.

 

Sojournor Bolt
Fans of the Chargers (8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS) might feel the same way now that they’ve won three games in a row. But we’re a bit more pessimistic about this team. After starting the season at 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS, the Bolts failed to beat the football odds in their next six games before coming back to beat the Baltimore Ravens (–6.5 at home) 34-33 last Sunday. Their previous two victories were at home over the Oakland Raiders (+10.5) and the St. Louis Rams (+4).

San Diego might only be a game behind the Patriots in the overall standings, but the advanced stats don’t lie: The Chargers rank No. 12 with their plus-5.6 SRS, and they were No. 16 in DVOA going into their game against Baltimore. Don’t forget, these rankings are based on the entire season up to this point. The gap between New England and San Diego would be even wider if you threw out the month of September.

 

Untold Riches
We’re constantly preaching the importance of offensive line play here at the ranch – not just because of the need to protect the quarterback and open up holes for the running backs, but also because casual fans don’t pay enough attention to these things when they make their NFL picks. San Diego’s offensive line has been falling apart, piece by piece; center Rich Ohrnberger (back) was the latest to go on injured reserve last week.

The Chargers will have a puncher’s chance in any game they play, as long as they have Philip Rivers (102.8 passer rating) at quarterback and guys like Kennan Allen (72 catches) and Antonio Gates (47 catches, nine TDs) for Rivers to throw at. But will it be enough to make them worth picking against the Patriots? We’ll figure that out later this week when we make our football picks on the spread and total.

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