The Patriots are 1-3 this season, and it appears they will start a third-string rookie quarterback Sunday vs. the Lions.
Yet, New England still is a 3.5-point favorite against visiting Detroit.
Dig a little deeper, though, and it’s not a huge surprise. The Patriots obviously have Bill Belichick calling the shots — just ask him — and you’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger head-coaching mismatch than the six-time Super Bowl champion scheming against a team led by Dan Campbell.
And Campbell’s Lions come in with their own issues. Detroit is also hampered by injuries, especially on offense, and that defense looks like it might be historically bad after allowing 35 points per game through the Lions’ own 1-3 start over the first four weeks.
It certainly does appear something has to give when the Patriots throw on the red throwbacks for a borderline must-win game Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Here’s what bettors should know before placing their Week 5 wagers, with odds and props courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Detroit Lions at (-3.5) New England Patriots
Total: over/under 45.5
When: Sunday, Oct. 9, 1 p.m. ET
Where: Gillette Stadium; Foxboro, Mass.
BETTING TRENDS TO KNOW
The Patriots have been far from a sure thing as short favorites since Tom Brady left. New England has been favored by four points or less 10 times since the start of the 2020 season. The Pats are just 4-6 outright, having covered three times and pushing once in those games. The under tends to be the right side of the total, going 7-3. The Patriots are just 2-4 straight-up and ATS in those spots over the same span. And this obviously is a stat that includes the Brady era, but it does speak to how New England has taken care of business at home against “bad” teams: The Patriots are 17-5 ATS in their last 22 games against teams with losing records.
The trend conversation as it pertains to the Lions begins with the total. The total has gone over in the Lions’ last five games, and Detroit is also 4-1 ATS in that stretch. Campbell generally has been a good bet in his career, going 21-16 ATS for his career thus far, and the Lions went 11-6 ATS last season despite going 3-13 straight-up. That seemingly is a sign they were close to breaking through, which does help explain the preseason hype, but they obviously haven’t delivered on it so far.
LIONS PROP TO CONSIDER
T.J. Hockenson anytime touchdown scorer (+190) — The Patriots have had some struggles with tight ends this season. Robert Tonyan found the end zone last week in Green Bay, a week after Mark Andrews scored twice for the Ravens. The Patriots’ five touchdowns allowed to tight ends this season are the most in the NFL. According to NFLSavant.com, only six tight ends have been targeted in the red zone more than Detroit’s Hockenson, who has hauled in two of those targets for touchdowns. Given the injury situation with D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown, Hockenson figures to take on a bigger role in the offense. Hockenson could be especially important to the Lions’ game plan if Patriots safety Kyle Dugger doesn’t play or isn’t 100% yet.
PATRIOTS PROP TO CONSIDER
Longest field goal made, Patriots (-110) — Kind of a random one here, but getting close to even money for Nick Folk versus Austin Seibert seems like a good deal. The Lions’ kicking situation has been a bit of a mess, with Seibert seen as a short-term solution. He had a brutal showing two weeks ago in Minnesota, going 1-for-3, missing both field goals longer than 40 yards. Seibert is just 2-for-6 from 50-plus yards in his career and 19-for-30 from 40-plus, and it’s also worth noting this is Detroit’s first outdoor game this season. Folk, meanwhile, has made 58 straight from 50 yards and in, including a 50-yarder at Gillette two weeks ago, and he’s also likely to get more opportunities assuming some Patriots drives stall.
PICK: UNDER 45.5
This is not a fun pick to make, especially considering the Lions scored 45 points themselves last week (while giving up 48 to boot). But when you think about it, a shootout seems like the least likely outcome for this game. If the Patriots, presumably with Bailey Zappe under center, win, that means they probably stopped the shorthanded Lions offense in its tracks and made Jared Goff look like the QB he was in the Super Bowl a few years ago. If the Lions win, it feels like their most likely path to victory is Zappe just falls flat on his face or just struggles to get anything going. If you really want to break it down, a Patriots win probably ends up in the 17-13 neighborhood, while a Lions win — even with some offensive success — comes in around, say, 28-16.