New England Patriots at Detroit Lions (+6.5)
Sun. 9/23, 8:20 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on New England-Detroit:
1. New Lions head coach Matt Patricia likely won't be getting much sleep this week as he prepares his beleaguered defense for quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots on Sunday night. Detroit has already allowed 78 points (tied with Buffalo for most in NFL), and the Lions could be without their two top defensive players for Week 3. All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay left Sunday's game with a concussion and pass-rushing specialist Ezekiel Ansah (team-high 12 sacks last season) wasn’t able to suit up because of a shoulder injury. It’s been eight seasons since Brady last played in Detroit, which is less than 45 miles east of where the 41-year-old quarterback played his college ball in Ann Arbor. He made the most of that visit on Thanksgiving Day 2010, as his 21 completions on 27 passes for 341 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions gave him a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 for the second and most recent time in his career.
2. While defending New England's passing game figures to be a challenge, of greater concern for Detroit may be the team’s abysmal run defense. No NFL defense has allowed more than the 359 rushing yards the Lions have surrendered over two games, and it’s not as if Detroit has been run over by perennial Pro Bowlers or surefire future Hall of Famers. The majority of the yards the Lions have given up on the ground have been gained by Isaiah Crowell of the Jets and Matt Breida of the 49ers. Neither back was drafted after having attended a lower-tier college (Crowell went to Alabama State, Breida to Georgia Southern). Detroit will now be tasked with slowing down first-round draft pick Sony Michel, who ran for 1,227 yards to help Georgia reach the national championship game last season. With Michel now seemingly fully recovered from a knee injury that kept him out of the season opener, the expectation is that he’ll play a much bigger role on Sunday than he did while being on the field for only 13 snaps in this past Sunday’s loss at Jacksonville.
3. Since becoming the Patriots head coach in 2000, Bill Belichick has suffered just 27 double-digit losses like he did last week. In the games following such lopsided defeats, New England has gone an impressive 22-5 straight-up and 21-6 against the spread while outscoring opponents by an average of 9.7 points in those 27 games. This record includes a 14-3 mark against the spread (15-2 straight-up) when the preceding double-digit loss was in a game in which New England was favored, and a perfect 8-0 straight-up record (7-1 against the spread) when the Patriots’ preceding loss came as a road favorite. With Matt Patricia having worked under Belichick for 14 years, including the previous six as his defensive coordinator, the expectation is that Belichick will be well-prepared for this one.
Pick: New England -6.5
Confidence Level: High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)