NFL betting in 2021 has gotten seriously infuriating at times – particularly if you’re betting home favorites who are also moving up in the #PowerRankings of your choice. Basically, every team which has become the flavor-of-the-month media darling in a given week gets crushed the next, taking down all those poor suckers who were high on the hype. Examples? Sure:
• the Los Angeles Chargers got lots of early hype by starting 4-1 SU/ATS and turning in an exciting 47-point performance in a 5-point win over the then-esteemed Cleveland Browns. Not only did the fan-free Chargers bow to the Ravens, 34-6, they soon tumbled in the standings on a 1-3 SU/ATS fall.
• the Buffalo Bills. The second-favorite for the AFC championship in the preseason, the Bills lost to the Steelers on opening day and then whipped off a 4-0 SU/ATS streak. And then, Tennessee happened: As 6-point favorites at the Titans, the Bills lost outright, 34-31, as part of their current 2-2 SU/ATS run.
• the Baltimore Ravens. Like the Bills, the Ravens lost on opening day at Las Vegas; Baltimore chased the L with a 5-0 SU (3-2 ATS) run that got Lamar Jackson lots of flighty buzz for MVP – the truth is that Jackson’s been otherworldly this season – and a handicap of -6½ against the Bengals in week 7. So of course the Bengals torturously smoked the Ravens in Baltimore.
• the Cincinnati Bengals. After taking out the aforementioned Ravens in week 7, the Bengals were at no. 1 *in the AFC* and so went into New York as an 1-point favorite against the lowly Jets. Naturally, Cincinnati lost outright, and two days later were suddenly fourth *in the AFC North.*
• the Dallas Cowboys headed into week 8 at a surprising 6-1 SU/7-0 ATS. Whereas bettors probably should have been tempered by a little regression to the mean on those numbers, the great bulk of money on Denver +10 at Dallas was coming in on the home team.
• the Arizona Cardinals. Kyler Murray had helped make Arizona the Super Bowl favorites for the proverbial first time in forever after getting his team off to a 7-0 SU/6-1 ATS start. Hosting Green Bay in week 8 as a 6½-point favorite, the Cardinals just couldn’t cover a 3-point gap in the fourth quarter and lost. Not an embarrassing loss, but that would come two weeks later when, as a 10½-point favorite versus Carolina – you guessed it – lost outright.
• the Los Angeles Rams were at 7-1 SU/4-3-1 ATS even before adding Von Miller and Odell Beckham to the mix. Naturally, they’ve since gone 0-2 SU/ATS and wrecked who knows how many straight-up bets, parlays and teasers.
• Finally, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers started 6-1 SU (though due inflated point spreads were just 3-4 ATS) and Bucs fans began to inquire about Super Bowl tickets. Since then, they’ve gone 9-point loss at New Orleans, bye, 10-point loss at Washington.
But here’s the thing. The hottest team right now, the side that should be trending up in every power poll, is the New England Patriots. (Unless you’re buying the Cowboys, which NFLbets isn’t quiiiiiiiiite yet.) This week, those Patriots face a Thursday Night Football line of
New England Patriots -7 at Atlanta Falcons, over/under 47 points
First off, that 7 certainly isn’t making things easy. Even without the Patriots’ outrageous 45-7 blowout of the Browns aside, New England is averaging 29.75 points per game whereas the Falcons are bottom-5 at just 19.8 ppg. But on short weeks, can we depend on either side to score their typical?
Pragmatically speaking, we must factor in the absence of Cordarrelle Patterson, who’s somehow no. 1 on the Falcons in total yards. This leaves essentially Mike Davis and Kyle Pitts as the already shaky Matt Ryan’s weapons; add in Bill Belchick’s literally legendary knack for taking away the opponent’s best piece and, well, subtract one of the two.
Speaking of Belichick, note that the Dark Emperor’s Patriots have gone 11-3 SU and 7-5-2 ATS in Thursday night games since 2000. It should be noted that Belichick’s boys have gone 0-2 SU/ATS on TNF with quarterbacks not named Tom Brady, but at least for the nonce Mac Jones looks a lot closer to ol’ TB12 than to Matt Cassell and certainly 2020 Cam Newton.
The Patriots surprisingly have the depth to cover a couple of areas on the offense currently plagued by minor injuries and high use on Suandy: Running back and tight end. Raymondre Stevenson’s breakout game of last week was utterly representative of Belichick’s RB-by-committee approach that he’s employed since taking over – hell, he more or less invented the concept for 21st century use. No 2 RB Brandon Bolden is out this week, but no. 1 guy Damien Harris is out of concussion protocol.
Meanwhile, Jonnu Smith is a question mark and certainly won’t play the full game but (almost) no matter: Hunter Henry has four TD catches in the past five games – and if you’re getting at least four TDs in five games out of the TE spot, you’re good.
All things considered then, about the sole argument keeping bettors away from Patriots -7 is that tendency for these top teams to perform very poorly once acknowledged. These Patriots, however, have been exceptional this entire century. Why not for one more game against a mediocre Atlanta team? Take the New England Patriots -7 at Atlanta.
–written by Os Davis
49ers cover the -2 spread and the total is under 46. Los Angeles Rams are the underdogs.