Despite losing in Week 13, the New England Patriots are a unanimous early NFL picks for their Week 14 matchup against the San Diego Chargers. The sharps are also pounding J.J. Watt and the Texans.
Jason’s record after Week 12: 32-44-1 ATS, 14-20-1 Totals
The New England Patriots finally ran into a favorite they couldn’t beat. After going 4-0 SU and ATS this year as small underdogs, the Patriots were getting 2.5 points in last Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field, but it was the Green Bay Packers prevailing 26-21. It was the first time in a month that New England fell victim to the NFL odds.
No sweat. The sharps are pounding the holy heck out of the Patriots in early betting for the next very special episode of Sunday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC). Our consensus reports show 100 percent support for the Pats as they get ready to visit the San Diego Chargers, who are coming off a crazy 34-33 victory over the Baltimore Ravens (–6.5 at home). For a change, it’s New England laying the points this time at –3.5, already up from –3 at the open of Week 14 NFL odds.
The Crosby Show
There’s certainly no shame in losing to the Packers, especially at Lambeau. The Patriots (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) came back from a 13-0 first-quarter deficit and made a game of it, playing relatively mistake-free football on the frozen tundra – it was 28 degrees Fahrenheit at kick-off. In the end, Mason Crosby hit four of his five field-goal attempts, while Stephen Gostkowski missed his lone try from 47 yards out. Game, set and match.
The Chargers (8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS) weren’t quite as impressive in their win over Baltimore, but they definitely deserve credit for coming back from their own early 10-0 deficit and beating the Ravens in an East Coast matinee. Philip Rivers drove San Diego 80 yards downfield in the final three minutes and found Eddie Royal in the end zone from one yard out for the winning score. That was the first cover for the Chargers since Week 5.
In theory, the Pats have added value against the Week 14 NFL odds, since they lost and the Chargers won. But that extra half-point isn’t doing them any favors. This is why early-bird shopping comes so highly recommended; if you weren’t right there at the open, you missed out on New England –3. That price isn’t likely to come back down this week, given how publicly adored the Patriots are.
The Houston Texans (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS), on the other hand, don’t have much of a following – unless you focus specifically on J.J. Watt, who scored his fifth touchdown of the season in last Sunday’s 45-21 thumping of the Tennessee Titans. That’s the most TDs for a defensive lineman since 1944.
Nice, but the real story from this game was the return of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to active duty. With Ryan Mallett (pectoral) out for the season, Fitzpatrick was given the start, and he responded with six touchdown passes – one of those to Watt – against the hapless Titans. That makes him the first Ivy League quarterback to throw for six TDs since Sid Luckman in 1943. Take that, history.
With Fitzmagic back on the marquee, the sharps are unanimously behind the Texans for their Week 14 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10 SU, 3-8-1 ATS). The NFL odds opened with Houston laying four points on the road to the Jaguars, who squeaked by the New York Giants 25-24 as 3-point road dogs.
This was about as ugly a win as they come. Jacksonville fell behind 21-0 in the second quarter, but a strip-sack of Eli Manning in the end zone, plus a last-minute field goal by Josh Scobee, and voilà. You can understand if the sharps are pessimistic about the Jaguars’ chances of doing the same thing to Houston this Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS).