Sunday, December 7, 2014

New England Patriots Vs. San Diego Chargers

Market Watch

Books really had no choice but to make the Patriots favorites by more than a field goal in this one. In the look-ahead line it was -4. It reopened at -3 with juice after Week 13, but it immediately got bet off the key number. It has moved up to -, and. 78% of the bets are coming in on New England.


Bottom Line

I think most people know what to expect from the Patriots the rest of the way, but what about the Chargers?  They started off the season on fire, both offensively and defensively.  But then they hit a wall and went on a slide that didn't stop until last week in Baltimore.

Are they back?

As long as Rivers is healthy, the Chargers can be great on offense, but the defense has fallen back to their 2013 level. They are the worst in the league against the pass, can't stop anybody inside the red zone, and can't generate a consistent pass rush.  That's really bad news with one of the best offenses coming to town.

Maybe they can keep pace and outscore the Patriots?

One would have to say no based on New England's overall defensive ranking (12th), but there are two areas where they have struggled - 3rd/4th down (26th), and sacking the QB (19th). So sometimes the overall numbers can be deceiving. If Rivers gets time, he's almost unstoppable on third down over the last two seasons.

And if the game is close? The Patriots are significantly better on special teams. That's always an overlooked category, but it's one that requires attention - especially in December/January.

Add it all up and I think the only team we can trust in this spot is New England. They hold the advantage on paper, and they usually show up big in these prime-time spots. The problem is this line is right where it should be at -4. If we lay the points, that number is vulnerable to a backdoor cover, but it's also not high enough to take the Chargers given the problems they have on defense. Therefore, I have no choice but to sit this one out.

Read more: Week 14 picks.