Coming off their most dominant win of the season — a 54-13 beatdown of the New York Jets — the New England Patriots are headed to the West Coast to take on a different caliber of opponent: the 4-2 Los Angeles Chargers, who are the current sixth playoff seed in the AFC and coming fresh off their bye week.
Every game in the NFL is its own challenge, but it cannot be denied that — on paper — beating the Chargers will be much more difficult for the Patriots than beating the Jets. The question therefore is whether or not the team can keep up its momentum, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Let’s use our crystal ball as well as prop bets provided by DraftKings Sportsbook to find out if that will indeed happen.
Patriots Offense: O/U 21.5 points
As noted above, New England was able to score 54 points against an overpowered Jets team — the first 50-burger served by the Patriots since the 2015 season. That said, the oddsmakers think that the team will regress against the Chargers’ 22nd-ranked scoring defense; the have set the scoring over/under at just 21.5 points.
Mac Jones and company are averaging 25.6 points per game this season, good enough for 11th in the league. The over is the obvious choice here based on that number alone, but one quick argument could be made against it: the lopsided win over New York has impacted the points per game drastically and is not a proper representation of New England’s offensive firepower.
That might very well be true, but two things cannot be denied either:
1.) The Patriots have scored more than 21.5 points in three straight games are looking much improved on that side of the ball compared to earlier in the year (when they finished sub-21.5 in three of their first four games).
2.) The Chargers defense is giving up an average of 25.0 points per game, and is especially vulnerable against the run.
So, what will happen on Sunday? That remains to be seen, but based on the circumstances and the recent development of the New England offense as a whole — even before its explosion versus the Jets — it appears that 21.5 points is a very realistic hurdle for the unit to jump over.
Patriots Defense: O/U 27.5 points
On the other side of the ball we find the over/under to be set at 27.5 points. Playing the same game as above, we can compare season-long trends and results: New England’s defense is giving up an average of 20.0 points each game; Los Angeles’ offense is scoring 24.7 points per game. New England’s defense has allowed more than 27.5 points just twice this season; Los Angeles’ offense has scored 27.5-plus in three of its last four games.
Putting everything into account, it would not be a surprise if the Patriots found a way to limit the Chargers and keep them below that number. A lot will depend on whether or not their secondary can successfully match up with Los Angeles’ receiving weapons, and whether or not the run defense will continue trending in the right direction.
As far as a prediction is concerned: the under is very much in play, but the confidence level is not as high as it is with the over on the offensive side of the ball.