- When: Sunday, January 13, 2018 @ 1:05 pm EST
- Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
- (Betting odds from Sportsbetting AG and current as of 1/10 at 9 pm)
|Team||Point Spread||Moneyline||Total (over-under)|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+ 4 -113||+ 170||Un 47.5 -115|
|New England Patriots||– 4 -107||– 195||Ov 47.5 -105|
If you’re going to bet along with me, make sure to find the most favorable odds at the best NFL betting sites to maximize your earnings. Following the 2018 NFL regular season – and now, one week of the playoffs- here are my results:
- Overall Record: 185 – 160 – 5 (1 NFL futures bets pending)
- Winning Percentage: 53.6%
- Total Profit: $1,540.81
- Total Return: 5.11%
NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Sunday Quick Picks
On Sunday morning, Philip Rivers has the best opportunity of his career to finally eliminate the Patriots from the playoffs and advance to the AFC Championship. The Chargers have come up short in some absolutely brutal losses to New England, and it won’t be easy to break the streak in Foxborough, where Brady and Belichick have been nearly unbeatable in the postseason.
While the Chargers are coming off an impressive upset over the physical Baltimore Ravens, the Patriots have been resting at home, enjoying yet another first-round bye. Listening to the pundits, it’s a universally agreed upon fact that Los Angeles has more talent and the better overall roster. It’s also common knowledge that this New England team is one of the worst of the Brady-Belichick era.
Although, how many times have the Patriots overcome a more talented opponent when it matters most? My primary conflict trying to handicap this game is whether to trust this season’s stats and the quality of each team’s roster or value history and what this Patriots machine has shown us time and time again.
In this article, I’ll take a closer look at both teams and make my picks for the best bets to make as well as who to trust in daily fantasy. But first, here are some facts that stood out to me upon initially handicapping the matchup:
- The Patriots have been home for three consecutive weeks now, including last week’s bye.
- In that same period of time, the Chargers have traveled over 10,000 miles and will be playing in the Eastern time zone for the second straight week.
- Philip Rivers is 0-7 over his entire career against the Tom Brady Patriots.
- New England is 11-1 straight up at home in the divisional round of the playoffs.
- Rivers has only a single multiple-touchdown performance in his last five contests.
- Sony Michel averages over 90 yards per game at home.
My picks for this game:
- Patriots -4 at -107 betting odds
- Under 47.5 at -113 betting odds
Gambling Stats for Sunday’s Early Game
Sometimes you can find data to help with your handicapping that may not directly focus on the action on the field. Looking at how a team has traditionally performed against the spread can be worth analyzing as well. You can even take these meta stats further, looking for patterns in performances following losses, at home, and as favorites or underdogs. I was able to find these statistics at TeamRankings.com.
New England Patriots
- New England is 9-7-0 against the spread, covering 56.2% of the time.
- At home, they’re 6-2-0 against the spread, covering 75% of the time.
- As a home favorite, they’re 6-2-0 against the spread, covering 75% of the time.
- Following their last three bye weeks, New England is 3-0-0 against the spread, covering 100% of the time.
- Against other AFC teams, the Patriots are 8-5-0 against the spread, covering 61.5% of the time.
- New England is 5-11-0 (31.2%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
- Following their last three bye weeks, the Patriots are 2-1-0 (66.7%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
- As a home favorite, New England is 2-6-0 (25%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
- Against other AFC teams, the Patriots are 4-8-0 (33.3%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
Los Angeles Chargers
- Los Angeles is 10-7-0 against the spread, covering 58.8% of the time.
- On the road, they’re 8-1-0 against the spread, covering 88.9% of the time.
- As a road underdog, they’re 5-1-0 against the spread, covering 83.3% of the time.
- Following a win, Los Angeles is 7-5-0 against the spread, covering 58.3% of the time.
- Against other AFC teams, the Chargers are 8-5-0 against the spread, covering 61.5% of the time.
- Los Angeles is 8-9-0 (47.1%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
- Following a win, the Chargers are 4-8-0 (33.3%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
- As a road underdog, Los Angeles is 4-2-0 (66.7%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
- Against other AFC teams, the Chargers are 5-8-0 (38.5%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
Away – Los Angeles Chargers (+4)
This Sunday the Chargers will try once again do what they seemingly do best: go into another organization’s stadium and come away with a win. Since the beginning of October, Los Angeles has been an undefeated 7-0 on the road, both straight up and against the spread.
But traveling to Foxborough in January is a different beast altogether; one that will require transcendent performances from several individual players, each with their own red flags heading into Sunday. The bulk of the pressure to win this game rests on the shoulders of Philip Rivers.
After looking like an MVP-frontrunner for much of the season, Rivers has significantly regressed over the last five weeks. He strung together an impressive streak of games over the first half of the season – all with multiple touchdowns – only to finish the year with a five-game stretch during which he threw for multiple TDs just once.
The Chargers are going to need more than one passing touchdown from him Sunday to have a shot at this thing, especially with Melvin Gordon playing in Stone-Cold-Steve-Austin-esque double knee-braces. Gordon’s knee and ankle injuries became an issue during last week’s game versus Baltimore, and I’m sure another cross-country road trip and a physical matchup in the snow won’t be much help to the recovery process.
And that kinda sums up my thoughts about many of Los Angeles’ players and their chances in this contest as a whole. They definitely have the roster to upset the Pats on the road, but their circumstances stink. Teams that play the NFL’s number-one ranked defense have a horrific history in follow-up games, which is precisely the situation here.
- HB – Melvin Gordon III (knee)
- FB – Derek Watt (shoulder)
- CB – Brandon Facyson (concussion)
- LB – Kyle Wilson
Home – New England Patriots (-4)
I’ve encountered this scenario before, and I’m not falling for it again. In fact, I’ve faced this exact same situation in the NBA for years, with the San Antonio Spurs! Every few years these legendary dynastic teams spend the regular season working things out and just winning enough to advance to the postseason, but not as one of the splashy favorites with their flavor-of-the-month high-powered offenses.
So all the pundits begin writing them off, and by game time, what they’re saying makes a lot of sense. Gronkowski officially has too many miles on him, becoming a shell of his former self; Tom Brady made more bad throws this year than we’ve seen in some time; and New England lost their most athletically gifted wide receiver when Josh Gordon failed yet another drug test, effectively ending his NFL career.
Then we’ll all tune in on Sunday and remember exactly why this Patriots dynasty has lasted so long. If you give Bill Belichick an extra week to game plan specifically for your team and its weaknesses, he almost always solves the riddle, executing some strategy that perfectly exploits whichever vulnerabilities he found.
Analyzing the two rosters, I think I have a decent idea of what the plan is. Their receiving corps is a ragtag group of return specialists and slot guys without a traditional number-one WR in the entire group, but against this Chargers pass-rush, the quick passing scheme is an ideal counter, so I’m sure a combination of Chris Hogan, Cordarelle Patterson, Julian Edelman, James White, Rex Burkhead, and Phillip Dorsett will all act as some sort of “slot receiver swarm” giving Tom an out anytime the pressure gets near.
Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if New England came out in some sort of Flex Wing formation and proceeded just to batter the already-bruised Chargers with a heavy run attack. With Sony Michell, I suspect that’s already the plan once the Pats grab an early lead.
On defense, I love the way New England matches up with Los Angeles. Belichick has locked down inside receivers as needed throughout the season by bracketing players like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Adam Thielen with a combination of Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson. Keenan Allen will see the same. That leaves Stephon Gilmore to lockdown Mike Williams, another plus-matchup for the Pats.
New England has had Philip Rivers’ number for over a decade now, holding him to 220-passing yards or fewer in four of his five past trips to Foxborough, throwing two interceptions for every one TD in those contests. This year the Patriots have the second-best secondary in the NFL.
- WR – Josh Gordon (suspended)
- WR – Cordarelle Patterson (knee)
- DE – Deatrich Wise Jr. (undisclosed)
Fantasy Football Sit/ Start
With so much of the gambling public wagering through daily and even season-long fantasy, I’ve decided to share my sits and starts for the game as well. By playoff time, most year-long leagues have concluded, but sites are now experimenting with playoff fantasy not to mention Daily Fantasy which is still ongoing. For the owners still playing some form of fantasy, I share my sit, start, and sleeper recommendations.
I am laying the points and taking the home team without hesitation this weekend. I love that the Chargers have been so successful on the road, but none of those wins took place in Foxborough during a winter snow. We’ve seen so many teams considered much more talented than the Patriots make this trip only to leave disappointed.
The Seahawks had a better team in their Superbowl loss to the Pats; so did the Falcons, the 2006 Chargers, several Peyton Manning-led Colts groups, and –of course – the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams that started this entire saga.
I think New England runs the ball directly at Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram to wear them down then counters the blitz-heavy Anthony Lynn squad with a high-volume short, quick, passing attack. But, it will be the defense that ultimately wins the game for the home squad
If the Chargers weren’t coming off a fierce battle with the Ravens with most of their key players banged up, maybe it would go differently; but, this is the NFL, and the universe has a funny way of letting things break the Pats way when they matter most.
The decade-plus of ritualistic animal sacrifice and chaos magic must still be working for ole Dark Lord Belichick, and I must say – I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s something comforting about the consistency, regardless of how evil.
These sit/start options reflect this prediction:
- Tom Brady – Patriots QB – It’s Tom Brady playing at home in the playoffs. He’s only the fifth-most-expensive QB in DFS this week, so grab him while you can. This is where New England excels.
- Sony Mitchel – Patriots RB – I have Sony Michel giving the best fantasy performance of the game on Sunday morning. Playing in the cold against a team that recently flew over 10,000 miles and just finished facing Baltimore, the Pats are going to power run quite a bit to dominate possession and wear down LA’s defense.
- Julian Edelman – Patriots WR – I don’t envy anyone trying to guess which Patriots receivers to start other than Edelman. With 11/12 games with at least six catches and/or a TD, you can bank on this WR’s chemistry with Brady. Even against the Pro-Bowl defensive backs in the LA secondary, Edelman is quick and shifty enough to get open reasonably often.
- Chris Hogan – Patriots WR – He should probably be more of a sleeper, but I’m recommending to start Chris Hogan. Brady looked his way 11 times in Week 17 despite not connecting most of the season. They’re preparing for something.
- Keenan Allen – Chargers WR – When a team’s top receiving option is an inside guy like Keenan Allen, New England has shut them down with J. McCourty and JC Jackson. Still, if you like LA, you have to start Allen this week. The volume should be there despite the coverage.
- Mike Williams – Chargers WR – Again, you have to start Williams – because, surely the Chargers offense will come from somewhere. That said, with Stephon Gilmore probably getting the assignment, I’d shy away from Williams unless he’s exceptionally cheap.
- Austin Ekeler – Chargers RB – With Melvin Gordon less than 100%, I think the RB to own on LA’s roster this week is Austin Ekeler. No disrespect to the starter, I just can’t imagine playing with two injuries on one leg, and double knee braces is much fun in the freezing cold.
- Rob Gronkowski – Patriots TE – Gronk already wasn’t himself this season, but this weekend he’ll be covered by All-Pro Derwin James. Stay away.
- Philip Rivers – Chargers QB – Rivers has been incredible this season, but nobody plays well on the road in Foxborough. His primary weapons are all ailing in some way, and they face the best football mind in history and the second-ranked secondary. No thanks.
- Melvin Gordon – Chargers RB – Gordon is probably the most talented player on either roster. It’s just that both his ankle and knee on the right leg are injured, and his left leg is now braced-up as well.
- Antonio Gates – Chargers TE – Gates has seen a bit of a resurgence in his old age. However, I don’t like his chances against Devon McCourty this week, in a game where I don’t expect the Chargers to run many offensive plays.
- Tyrell Williams – Chargers WR – Tyrell Williams is always a threat to explode for a huge game out of nowhere. With Gilmore likely on Mike Williams, and J. McCourty busy with Keenan Allen, LA needs Tyrell to show out if they want to put up points.
- James White – Patriots WR – James White was one of the better pass-catching backs in the NFL for much of the year, before Rex Burkhead returned. Still, I think White is used creatively in this contest and ends up a key contributor in New England’s victory.
NFL Playoffs Week 2 – Divisional Round – Sunday
New England gets an early jump on the Chargers due to being more rested and playing in front of their home crowd. From there, they pound the ball – mixing in short passes as needed – and keep Rivers off the field. When he does get the ball, they keep him off-rhythm and flustered, finally ending in his eighth consecutive loss to the Patriots dynasty.
Patriots -4 at -107 betting odds
$107 to win $100
Under 47.5 total points at -105 betting odds
$100 to win $95.24