Good Morning, Bolts From the Blue!
The Chargers are heading to Foxborough for an early kick off against the toiling New England Patriots who remain stuck to the floor of the AFC at 2-9. The Bolts’ have a dire record against the Patriots having failed to win any of the last seven times they have faced off with a winless record at Gillette Stadium since 2008. In fact Bill Belichick’s team have won 11 out of the 14 times they have faced either of Los Angeles, or San Diego, Chargers. However this year seems like it will be different, not by the merits of Brandon Staley’s team but by the absolute absence of talent on Robert Krafts’ team. The Patriots could even be considered lucky to have both their wins and even with a cupcake schedule they have somehow managed to stay clear of winning more games. People are rightly questioning where this team are heading and I think we can safely say it’s to the top of the draft order and the Chargers should certainly help them on their way despite suffering their own disappointing season.
Sharing the early slate with the Chargers are their AFC West division rival Denver Broncos when they are taking on a young Houston Texans side who have seemingly found their future. Sean Payton’s men are the hottest team in the league winning five straight to fire themselves into genuine playoff contention. Their brand of balanced football has enabled them to take down some of the best teams in football and it’s beyond time to take them seriously. Attempting to end their streak are a Houston Texans team who are also 6-5 under rookie head coach DeMeco Ryans who has them in the hunt for wildcard spots. This surprising turnaround is also thanks to their offensive explosion with rookie sensation C.J. Stroud who has propelled them to a top six offense with an impressive number two passing offense. This game is between two contrasting teams; one balanced and solid, the other explosive and volatile. DraftKings Sportsbook has the Broncos as a field goal underdog and to be honest I cannot get my head around why that is, usually I am able to find paths to agreeing with the oddsmakers by shifting perspectives but this one has me stumped. The Texans are fun and dynamic but their defense has struggled against the very few competent sides they have faced so I think the Broncos multifaceted offense will have answers enough to keep pace with Stroud. Take them to cover the spread at -110 to be safe, take them moneyline at +136 if you’re feeling bold.
Another of the early games I am keeping an eye on is the Detroit Lions traveling to Louisiana to take on the New Orleans Saints. Dan Campbell’s men are in the hunt for their first division title in a long time playing an exciting brand of offensive football however their defense has fallen apart since Week 7 ranking dead last in EPA over this period. When Derek Carr has been healthy this team has been surprisingly efficient through the air and I see this continuing against a porous Lions’ passing defense. The Saints can also take advantage of this with their aggressive defense predicated on creating turnovers, the issue has been this has come at the cost of allowing teams to drive the field. Overall though I think the Lions will have too much juice on offense and I have them to cover the 4-point spread at -112 but the main value is in the over 47 total points on offer at -108.
The biggest game of the week, however, is most certainly when the San Francisco 49ers go head to head with the Philadelphia Eagles in a replay of last year’s NFC Championship game and what could be a preview of this years’ conference title game. These two teams sit atop the NFC standings once again however their paths to this point are very different; The Eagles are winning despite being below their best all too often whereas the 49ers have suffered losses despite playing some of the best football in the whole league on both sides of the ball. So I guess we are going to find out whether it is better to have momentum or the knowledge gained from being beaten. The main difference between this game and last year’s conference title game is that Brock Purdy is not only healthy but playing in another tier to where he was in his rookie season. I’m taking the ‘niners to win and cover the field goal spread at -108. I’m not keen on the total line but if you are betting I’d take the over 48 at -110 due to the fact these two teams know each other well enough by now.
Here is how the BFTB staff sees this game breaking down:
What do you think, BFTB? Are any of you placing bets across the holiday?