Detroit Lions (7-3 SU, 5-5 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (8-2 SU, 6-4 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date and Time: Sunday, November 23, 2014, 1:00 pm EST
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
TV: FOX, DirecTV 712
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Det. +7/NE -7
Over/Under Total: 48
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Two teams looking to improve their position in regards to playoff standings and homefield advantage in their respective conferences will clash for a classic NFC-AFC gridiron battle on Sunday, when the Detroit Lions travel East to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots in an early game on Fox.
Detroit was one of the hottest teams in the NFL running off four straight wins until the ran into the team with the best record in the entire league last Sunday, dropping a tough one to the Arizona Cardinals, 14-6, out in the desert. The Lions top-ranked defense ran into one equally as strong, as the Cards held QB Matthew Stafford to only 164 yards passing and virtually locked down both Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate on the outside.
New England has certainly turned the corner after an embarrassing loss on the road in Kansas City in late September, putting together a six-game win streak that includes highly impressive 43-21 and 42-20 victories over two of the top teams in the AFC, the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts. The Colts victory came in last weeks Sunday Night primetime game, when running back Jonas Gray had a mini coming out party with over 200 yards rushing and four scores in the victory.
Despite the Lions prowess on defense so far in 2014, oddsmakers set the opening point spread for this clash with the Patriots as rather large 6.5-point favorites at home in Gillette Stadium. Even that high number wasnt enough to scare away the short-memory public bettors, as upwards to 65 to 75 percent of all the money wagered on this game so far has come down on the side of New England. That heavy-handed action has caused most books to raise the number to a full touchdown 7-points, with a few even adding the hook to make it minus -7.5.
The over/under total opened at 48 and unlike the point spread, really hasnt moved too much thus far. Like usual, some sportsbooks have either dropped it the hook to 47.5 or added the hook to 48.5, but a large majority of the books on the Web and out in Las Vegas are still standing pat at 48 right now as kickoff draws near.
Last week the Lions faced a backup QB in Drew Stanton out in Arizona, so they will clearly be facing their stiffest test of the season in the form of Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (one could argue that the Lions win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in early September was a tough test, but it was still early in the season). Gray was given a workload of 37 carries in the win over the Colts, but you can bet that the going wont be as easy against the Lions run defense (allowing only 69 ypg 1st) so it will be like night and day for Gray and the Pats this week.
What will be interesting to watch will be how the Lions offense chooses to attack the revived New England defense. Since the Pats lost their leader middle linebacker Jarod Mayo and their top pass rusher in Chandler Jones, they havent missed a beat in stopping Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck in back-to-back weeks. One of the reasons for the Pats success has been their deep and strong secondary, which is way better then their ranking of 16th in the league allowing 241 yards a game. With the Lions virtually non-existent run game (79.8 ypg 31st), Stafford will certainly have his work cut out for him on Sunday.
These two teams havent met on the field since the 2010 season, in what turned into an ugly 45-24 victory for Brady and the Pats in Ford Field in Detroit. Interestingly enough, the game was actually tied at 24-24 midway through the third quarter, but Brady threw three TDs to Deion Branch and Wes Welker and BenJarvus Green-Ellis added a late run to turn it into an ugly ending.
As far as betting trends go, theres really not much to hang your hat on in this one. Of course the under is a perfect 6-0 in Detroits last six road games. But New England is 10-3 ATS at home in Gillette and you can ask Manning and the Broncos how hard it is to beat the Pats in Foxborough.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: If youre going to pick a side for this one, I dont know how you cant take Brady and the Pats. But the full touchdown is a big number in my opinion, and the Lions defense is going to be the toughest test the Pats have had all season for sure. With the combination of weather (showers and 40s predicted) and defense in this one, if I wager on anything in this game Ill be taking the under of 48.