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Patriots are a Big-Money Bounce-Back Bet in the Belichick Era

Any casual bettor can tell you that it doesn’t take a lot of digging to find some trends to support the Patriots in almost any game. This is especially evident for their Week 3 Sunday Night Football matchup vs the Lions as a quick look unearths a Tyrannosaurus rex-sized hole worth of data that strongly points in their direction to cover the spread. New England opened the week as a 6.5-point favorite (which has moved to -7 at some books) and the game has one of the highest totals of the week at 51.5.

Shark Bites
  • Since 2000, the Patriots are 21-6 ATS following a double-digit loss.
  • Lions’ games have had an average combined score of 61 points this season.
  • The Patriots are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 night games.

My best bet: Patriots to cover the spread

Yes, this looks like an extremely obvious bet to make but I simply can’t ignore the Patriots’ history in this spot, combined with the fact that the Lions have looked like a disaster early in the season. In the Bill Belichick era, which dates back to 2000, New England is 49-24-1 ATS (67.1%) following a loss. This includes a more recent stretch that’s seen them go 14-2-1 ATS in their last 17 following a loss. That’s impressive, but they’ve been a gold mine for bettors following up a double-digit loss, posting a 21-6 ATS record! I deem that record exclamation point-worthy.

Following their 31-20 loss to the Jaguars in Week 2, there’s clearly some fresh red flags for New England, but keep in mind the Patriots are going from playing possibly the best defense in the league to arguably the worst. Detroit is tied with the Bills in allowing an NFL-worst 39 points per game and the offense isn’t offering much relief as it’s tied for the league lead with six turnovers. The Lions are getting slaughtered on the ground as they’ve allowed a league-high 359 rushing yards through two weeks so I fully expect the Patriots to chip away on the ground while Tom Brady picks them apart through the air.

Specific to the 7-point spread, 10 of New England’s 13 regular-season wins last season were by seven or more points and the Pats are currently on a run that’s seen them go 6-1 ATS in their last seven games as a favorite of 7 or more.

Prime Time is the Right Time for Brady and the Boys

If those after-a-loss numbers weren’t enough to do it for you, these Patriots records in night games might be enough to knock you off the fence. In the Belichick era, they’re 43-29-4 ATS (59.7%) in prime time including 9-3 ATS in their last 12, but it’s on the road at night where they’ve been dynamite, going 13-5 ATS in their last 18 in that spot.

Matthew Stafford hasn’t had the same success in night games, going just 5-12-1 ATS in 18 prime-time starts.

Belichick vs Former Assistants

A popular narrative in the buildup to this game will be the Patriots going against their former defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia. Some might jump to the conclusion that the Lions could have the edge due to Patricia’s familiarity with the Patriots’ play-calling and personnel, but don’t forget that familiarity goes both ways as the Patriots will be aware of Patricia’s tendencies as well. As a result, I think the two situations cancel each other out.

For what it’s worth, Belichick has faced former assistants who went on to be head coaches on 18 occasions and has posted a 12-6 SU and 11-7 ATS record.

OVER is a hot bet in Lions home games

Given the holes both defenses have shown early in the year, it’s not shocking to see the game has a total in the 50s. With the number at 51.5, a mark the Lions have topped in each of their games so far, bettors will be interested to know that the OVER has hit in eight of the Lions’ last 10 games at home. With the Patriots allowing Blake Bortles and a cast of running backs and receivers who likely went undrafted in fantasy leagues to score 31 points on them in Week 2, I’d lean toward the OVER hitting on Sunday night.

Going back to those Belichick-era trends, a pretty big one contradicts my opinion as New England has gone UNDER in 12 of its last 16 games with a total of 50 or more.

Will Josh Gordon Play?

Gordon is officially out. Either way, it wouldn’t have impacted the spread or total. With this preview being HEAVILY slanted toward the Patriots, I’d like to point out that people might be overreacting to this acquisition. Some are making comparisons to when New England acquired Randy Moss, but Josh Gordon is not Randy Moss.

Gordon had a great year in 2013 when he led the league in receiving yards and made his first and only Pro Bowl. Since then he’s scored two touchdowns, so until he can prove he can actually get on the field and stay there, your expectations should be tempered. Lecture over, enjoy the game!