HomeFootball DirtImproving the Patriots' Watchability by Dimming their Dominance

Improving the Patriots’ Watchability by Dimming their Dominance

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t hate that Patriots’ alternate line idea. Do you have any idea how bad you have to be as a team to get a Kansas City Chiefs game flexed out of primetime? ABC saw the potential to plaster Taylor Swift all over our screens and *still* didn’t think it outweighed the negatives of exposing Bailey Zappe to another national audience.

But in terms of my picks, well, there isn’t a lot I really, truly like this week and I’m sticking with my slow and steady approach.

Regression is coming for Jake Browning and Brian Flores’ chaos engine of a defense is a wonderful candidate to bring it. But this is a Vikings team that scored three points last week. Swapping out Joshua Dobbs for Nick Mullens is a lateral move. Browning has been so good that even a significant step backward should be good enough to win at home. I maybe didn’t love this line at -3.5, but the extra half-point of late movement convinced me to lock it in.

Same goes for the Packers. Tampa Bay hasn’t generated much pressure in 2023 (a bottom five 19.1 percent) and that should give Jordan Love enough time to get back on track. There are a handful of teams in the playoff race facing what looks like inferior opponents at home but only three-point favorites. They’re all unexciting, but safe, bets.

As much as my Scumbag friend may want to fade the Rams’ defense, the Commanders’ unit is significantly worse. Washington’s given up at least 29 points in five of its last six games and the exception was the Patriots who, as noted above, are to offense what Popeye’s Chicken is to customer service. Los Angeles might be tired from last week’s overtime loss, or may be fired up after botching an opportunity to beat the Ravens.

They Rams need a win to stay in the playoff race and Matthew Stafford has been a top 10 quarterback the last three weeks (10 touchdowns, one interception). Well, damn. I just talked myself into this pick.

I don’t love taking the over in a game between Justin Fields and Joe Flacco, but both quarterbacks are playing well and should be at least decent despite the presence of one elite defense and one that’s been doing a very good impression of one lately (the Bears have allowed 13 points or fewer in three of their last four games). A 37.5 point total is an attainable number that’ll probably be bolstered by a defensive touchdown (or two).

[Side note: The Atlanta Falcons-Carolina Panthers under looks tempting as well, even at a paltry 34.5. When Atlanta wins it’s usually in a low scoring game and, well, this looks like an Atlanta win (but also, the Falcons only exist to disappoint us so exercise caution).]

I’m also gonna back Cleveland by a field goal at home, because I think we may be buying into Chicago’s recent hype a bit too much. The Browns have given up a bunch of points lately but have held opponents to fewer than 300 yards in three of their last four games. But also Grant Delpit and Ogbo Okoronkwo are done for the year … oof, I dunno. Maybe I like that over a little more than the Browns straight-up right now.

So yeah, tough picks this week.

Non-scumbag locks last week: 3-1 (.750), +3 units
Non-scumbag locks year to date: 32-15-3 (.681), +17 units

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