After being blown out by the Jets on Monday Night Football at home in the season opener, the Lions rebounded (sort of) when they only just barely lost on the road to the 49ers in week 2. Sitting at 0-2 on the season, the Lions are 1-1 against the spread after a late “back door cover” where Detroit was a six point underdog, and lost 30-27.
Detroit trailed 30-13 in the fourth quarter, but closed the gap on two Matthew Stafford touchdown passes–the last one to Michael Roberts with 3:27 remaining in the game to get within a field goal. A late Lions interception was nullified by a defensive holding call to preserve the win for the 49ers.
In my betting preview of the Lions games, I have “successfully” (read unsuccessfully) been on the wrong side each week, as I laid the points against the Jets, and then laid the points with San Francisco. As for the totals, I was correct in Week 1 in prognosticating that the Jets game would go over, but last week I felt the game would go under 48.5 points, but was wrong.
I did manage to split the “other” two bets I proposed, as the New Orleans Saints could barely get past the Cleveland Browns (who won this Thursday after 635 days of futility), but the Sunday Night game DID in fact go under the total. I sit at an even 4-4 on the season, which is not profitable. Time to get on the “good” side this week.
This week, the Lions host the New England Patriots in Primetime on Sunday Night Football. The entire nation will be able to see who the Lions are three games into the Matt Patricia era. In case you’ve lived under a rock for many years, the Patriots have appeared in eight Super Bowls this century (winning five of them), while the Lions haven’t won a playoff game since 1991.
The Patriots are a seven point favorite on the road and the total is set at 53.5.
A quick look at some offensive statistics shows that the Lions average 382 total yards per game, which is 29 yards more than the league average of 353, and 36 more yards than New England averages. The Lions offense is bolstered by the passing game, where they average 313 yards through the air per game, which is significantly higher than the league average of 247 yds/game. However, Detroit (and stop me if you’ve heard this before) struggles to run the ball effectively, averaging only 69 yards per game on the ground.
The Patriots on the other hand, average 102 yards rushing per game, three yards less than the league average of 105 yds/gm. And led by surefire first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, so far the Patriots average 244 yards per game passing–and have yet to complete a pass of more than 20 yards so far this season. New England went out and traded for former Browns receiver Josh Gordon this week, and he is slated to face the Lions.
This game will be billed as the master vs the student as former Patriots defensive coordinator Patricia squares off against New England head coach Bill Belichick. New England usually relies on a potent offense and a strong if not stellar defense where the Lions have lately been a pass-happy team with an average at best defense. Patricia is here to bolster the defense, making it a formidable unit in the league, but, like his many predecessors needs to find a way to get a running game that resembles that of an NFL team. He’s only two games into his tenure, but the threat of starting 0-3 this year looms very large.
Bet the Patriots -7 at Detroit
While I don’t NEED to post betting angle statistics to go with my “lean” (betting term for having a preference of one side over another without very much conviction) I will state here that I don’t believe this game will be as lopsided as the home game against the Jets. Obviously the Patriots are a much better team than the green team from New York, but that doesn’t mean they will absolutely walk into Ford Field and smoke the Lions.
The Patriots are 8-1 against the spread in their last nine games against teams with a losing record. In their last 18 road games, they are 14-4 ATS. An interesting betting angle that goes against the Lions is that they are 5-15-1 in the last 21 seasons in Week 3.
While the addition of Josh Gordon may help the Patriots in the long run, I don’t feel he’ll help New England completely open their passing game. I look for the Patriots to win the game by employing a balanced attack on offense, while their defense concentrates on neutralizing the Lions one dimension offense. The master will get the best of the student in this matchup. Patriots by 10 to 14 points (meaning the Lions will be “in” the game until the end).
Bet the OVER 53.5
It may seem like a lot of points, but this game (like the season opener) could go over the total in the third quarter. These teams met last season at Ford Field, with the Patriots escaping with a 30-28 victory. They won their first game of this season 27-20 against the Texans, and last week lost to the Jaguars (Oh, have I mentioned the Patriots may be in a foul mood this week?) 31-20. While neither of those game totals equal 54 points, neither of those games were against the Lions, who lost to the Jets 48-17 and at San Francisco 30-27. This game has the feel of a high scoring game in which the Patriots get out to a big early lead, and the Lions play their best brand of football–catch up.
The other two NFL wagers I like this week are:
Bet Green Bay and Washington OVER 45.5 points
This game looks like a shootout to me. While I will concede that it looks like the “Vegas money” is on the under (the total opened at 47.5 and was bet down to 45.5 by Saturday morning), Vegas money isn’t always winning money.
While both Packers games this year have gone over the total, both Redskins games have gone under. However, the last ten times Green Bay has been a road favorite, the game has gone over the total eight times. In the last 31 Packer games, the score has gone over the total at a clip of 24-7. The last 22 times the Redskins have been an underdog, the final score has been over the total sixteen times. And if you’re hungry for grass stats in relation to totals (and who isn’t?) the over is 18-6 in the last 24 Packer games on real grass.
Much like the Detroit vs New England game, I think this is going over by the end of the third quarter, with the Packers getting out to a big lead, and Washington scoring late and often.
Bet the Los Angeles Rams -7 at home against the Los Angeles Chargers
I have no shame billing this as the “battle of Los Angeles” because I can embrace being a lazy writer at times. The Rams are for real, and sport a 30 point per game offense and a stingy defense–a potent combination with the right tools to be a Super Bowl contender. The Chargers are not quite that. While the Chargers kept it close against a good Chiefs team, and beat a poor Buffalo team in New York last week, their talent level isn’t quite on equal footing as the Rams.
Granted the Rams have faced two soft teams in the Raiders and Cardinals, the 2-0 start gives them real promise, and expect a maximum effort against the team from across town (again, I’m not sure of the geography of the Los Angeles area, so they could very well be on the same side of town–I don’t know).
In another Week 3 betting stat, the Chargers are 1-6-1 ATS in the last eight NFL seasons. They are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games against teams with a winning record.
While the Chargers have been able to score points in bunches recently (especially when trailing late) I don’t see their offense able to score at will against the Rams solid defensive unit, and on the other side of the ball, the Rams offense should be able to keep it churning against the Chargers.
The Rams win this one in a laugher, and laying a touchdown at home is no big deal. My best bet of the week. Go Rams!
LIONS side: 0-2
LIONS total: 1-1
OTHER wagers: 3-1