Rich Hribar and Raymond Summerlin bring you their best bets every Friday of the NFL season as well as a preview of Sunday Night Football. The preview is free, but the bets can only be found in the Rotoworld Season Pass. Don’t miss out on the action.
Rich: 14-11-1 season record (last week: 3-3)
Raymond: 17-7-1 season record (last week: 3-1-1)
All lines taken from the VI Consensus at VegasInsider.com Friday morning.
Sunday Night Football – Chiefs @ Patriots (-3.5) – 59.5-point total
Rich: The Chiefs are the lone remaining undefeated team in the AFC and have already run through wins against the Steelers and Jaguars to start the season, two teams many project to still contend for winning the conference. This week, they get another major test in-conference as they head to Foxboro, where the AFC has gone through for the past 18 seasons.
Is this game a changing of the guard in the AFC or another spot where the Patriots remind us the conference is still theirs? Andy Reid hasn’t found a lot of success against Bill Belichick for his career, with his teams posting a 2-5 record, but he has won two of the three meetings with the Patriots while with the Chiefs including a 47-27 win in Foxboro in Week 1 to kick off last season. One thing to note in those meetings is that the over has hit in five consecutive games, which leads us into this gargantuan total this weekend.
This is a matchup featuring two high-octane offenses, and Vegas has accounted for that by setting the game total at a massive 59.5 points. To put that into context, this is the highest game total since Week 15 of the 2004 season when the Chiefs hosted the Raiders. That game had a 60-point total which even hit as the Chiefs won 31-30.
Since the Chiefs have been so good out of the gates, we’re getting the Patriots in a spot we really haven’t had the luxury of getting them for betting purposes, which is a relatively short home favorite. Since Tom Brady and Belichick began making Super Bowl music together in 2001, the Patriots have been a home favorite of -3.5 points or fewer just 25 times. In those games, they are 16-7-2 versus the spread. Over the past decade, that record is 7-3-1 with all three of the failed covers coming in games that weren’t started by Brady (two with Matt Cassel in 2008 and one by Jacoby Brissett in 2016). To find a game in which a Brady-led Patriots team failed to cover a spread this low as a home favorite, you have to go all the way back to Week 9 of the 2006 season.
In the end, the game total is far too high for me to bet, but it’s hard to ignore getting the Patriots at a number we don’t often get them at for wagering. The Chiefs have really relied on blowing teams up early in games, outscoring opponents 59-9 in the first quarter this season. I don’t believe they run away from the Patriots here and that New England not only gives the Chiefs their first loss but also hits the number in doing so.
Pick: Patriots -3.5
Ray: As Rich referenced, this total is historic even if it comes on the heels of back-to-back 57.5-point marks for the Falcons. The database I use goes all the way back to 1989, and in that time there have been just six games featuring a total of 59 points or more. Interestingly but not surprisingly, three of those games featured “The Greatest Show on Turf” Rams of the early 2000s, and two of the matchups occurred in the playoffs – Lions at Saints in a 2011 Wild Card matchup and Packers at Falcons in the 2016 NFC Championship Game.
The over-under results of these matchups have been a mixed bag, but that is all because of the Rams. The under hit in two of their three games with the other one pushing at 59 points on the dot. The last three games with this large a total all went over with room to spare in the most recent examples. The Lions and Saints combined for 73 points in their matchup, and the Falcons and Packers managed 65. That history is not really actionable information for this game, but it does show this big of a total is not an automatic under bet.
As for these two teams, the Chiefs are second in the league averaging 35 points per game and have failed to hit 30 points just once. They scored 27 in that game in a tough primetime spot in Denver. The Patriots are “only” managing 26.6 per contest, but they have been better recently, scoring 38 in back-to-back games. Neither team has run a gaudy number of plays, but both are top eight in Football Outsiders’ situation-neutral pace, meaning they run plays quickly when the game is still in doubt. Given the 3.5-point line, that should be the expectation here.
It also helps matchups between Andy Reid and Bill Belichick have tended to be high scoring affairs, especially of late. In their last five matchups, Reid’s and Belichick’s squads have averaged 57.6 points per game with two of them hitting 59 points and one, the opening-night drubbing last season, finishing 42-27.
There has to be at least some concern this game, which is as big as a Week 6 contest can be for both teams, is nervy early, which would hurt the scoring output. On the other hand, one could argue this total is actually lower than it should be given the two teams involved and would be higher if there was more precedent for these kinds of numbers. I fall in the latter camp, which means I am going to suck it up, close my eyes, and bet the over.
Pick: Over 59.5
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