San Diego Chargers vs. New England Patriots Preview and Pick – Week 7 Monday Night Football

Denver Broncos (4-2) +3, 46.5 O/U at New England Patriots (3-2) -3,
46.5 O/U, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., 8:30 PM Eastern, Monday

by Badger of

A game that was originally intended to showcase reigning NFL MVP Tom Brady and his New England Patriots is still an intriguing game
despite his knee injury, as well find out if the struggling Patriots
can hold on to their status in the AFC when the Denver Broncos come
to Gillette Stadium on Monday Night Football on ESPN.

With Brady on the sideline the Patriots have lost two of their last three games, including last weeks 30-10 whooping at San Diego. New
quarterback Matt Cassel and the Patriot offense has sputtered lately,
enough so that some people are beginning to question the Patriots
status as a playoff-caliber team in the competitive AFC.

The Broncos have already lost a key AFC matchup, a crushing one to Jacksonville, 24-17, last week when they were held to under 200 yards
passing at home in Mile High. The Broncos have a chance on Mondays
national stage to prove if they are for real, or else theyll give
away their great 4-1 start and let the pack in the AFC catch up to
them before midseason.

Online Sportsbooks opened the game with the Patriots as 4.5-point favorites,
but early betting on the underdog Broncos quickly drove that number
down to the standard minus 3-points for the home-team Patriots. The
total opened at 46 and is hovering around 46 to 46.5 at both the
offshore sportsbooks and the books in Las Vegas. The moneyline
currently lists New England at -168, with Denver as +158 underdogs.

Cassel was sacked four times and pressured often in the Patriots loss at San Diego on Sunday, the same recipe that worked for Miami in
their victory over the Pats two weeks ago. When he does get time to
throw the Patriots offense is still only 21st in total yards per game
(298 ypg) and 25th in points scored (17.8 ppg).

With 12 touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 94.8, its no doubt that Denver quarterback Jay Cutlers improvement has been the key to
the Broncos fast start. Jacksonville held him to 192 yards and two
touchdowns last Sunday, but it was the Broncos defense that once
again let the team down by allowing over 400 yards to the Jaguars.
Despite last weeks struggles, the Broncos are still 2nd in passing
yards (279.2 ypg), 4th in total yards (399.7 ypg) and 8th in points
scored (27.7 ppg).

As mentioned, the Broncos defense has been a weak spot all season.
They allowed 30-plus points for three straight weeks earlier in the
season, but were bailed out by the performance of Cutler and the
offense. Overall they are 30th in total yards allowed (394.7 ypg),
24th in points allowed (25.7 ppg), and the leagues surprisingly dead-
last 32nd-ranked pass defense with 257.2 passing yards allowed per game.

New Englands defense counters with a run defense that is in the
lower half of the NFL (21st 119.4 ypg), but overall they are a
middle-of-the-pack unit ( 15th 320.8 ypg) that could give the
Broncos passing attack a challenge as they are 12th in passing yards
at just over 200 per game (201.4 ypg).

Denver has given the Patriots fits lately, winning three straight in the series and five of the last six meetings overall. Ironically, the
Broncos have identical records versus the number as they have covered
in three straight and five of last six.

The Broncos have won on the road at Gillette Stadium too, winning there in September of 2006 (17-7) as well as back in 2002 (24-16)
with a 5-0 ATS record in the last five meetings in Foxborough. The
over has historically been a moneymaker in this series, as it is 7-3
in the last 10 games head-to-head.

Neither of these teams has been good to bettors this season, as the Broncos are just 1-4-1 ATS in 2008 and the lone cover was their
opening week win over the Raiders. Meanwhile, the Patriots are 2-3
ATS this season and are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 overall.

Picking a side on the total will be a chore this week, as the under
is 4-1 in the last five games in the series played at New England,
but the over is 7-3 in the last 10 overall.

Badgers Pick: The Patriots defense should be able to matchup with the Broncos passing attack well enough to expose a porous Broncos
defense once again in the end. I expect just enough home momentum to
rally Bill Belichick and the troops to a 24-17 win and a backdoor
cover. Take New England minus the 3 points.