NEW ENGLAND (6-4) AT ATLANTA (4-5)
TV: NFL, Fox, Amazon Prime
Line: New England by 7; O/U: 47.5
One of the most important aspects of picking NFL games is not to overreact to one week. The Patriots just beat the Browns, 45-7, and the Falcons just lost to the Cowboys, 43-3. To which I say: So what!
The week before, Cleveland won by 25, Atlanta upset New Orleans on the road and Dallas got blown out at home by Denver. A team can look like a contender one week, a pretender the next. So don’t pick this game solely off last week’s results, because if that’s the case, then 45-7 win + 43-3 loss . . . calculating . . . the Pats are going to win by 78!
New England has won four in a row behind the accurate and efficient Mac Jones, the 15th overall pick in this year’s draft who is playing as if he should’ve been the first quarterback off the board, not the fifth. The Pats’ defense is getting hot, too, having allowed seven and six points the last two weeks. The Patriots are the more complete team and should win . . . but covering is a different story.
This spread is too high. The look-ahead line was Patriots -4. After Sunday’s games, it’s skyrocketed to 7. That’s way too big of a jump, and as we’ve often seen this year, you cash in on the line value and take the points.
Atlanta is an average team at best. It’s been blown out three times, but also played some close games. Being home on a short week is always an advantage. Sure, Matt Ryan will probably have the numbers 28 and 3 on his mind when lining up against the Patriots (heck, I still haven’t gotten over that Super Bowl; I picked the Falcons to beat the Pats before the playoffs started). I’ve only backed Atlanta twice in its nine games this season, but there’s value in taking the hosts in what feels like a 24-20, closer-than-you-think Patriots win.
The pick: Atlanta
Bob Glauber: Atlanta
Tom Rock: Atlanta
Al Iannazzone: New England