The New England Patriots (-3) take on their second straight NFC North opponent as they welcome the Detroit Lions to town for a Week 5 showdown. Despite question marks at the quarterback position with Mac Jones (doubtful) still nursing an ankle injury, New England opens as a 3-point favorite on the DraftKings Sportsbook. The 45.5 point total ties the largest total in a Patriots game this season, perhaps due to Detroit's league leading scoring offense and league's worst scoring defense.
Here are our four favorite bets to watch throughout Sunday's matchup.
The red Pat the Patriot throwback jerseys won't be the only thing that gives this game an old-school feel, as both teams feature a top ranked rushing attack. As for New England, they continue to feature the league's top rushing offense in terms of DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. With the quarterback situation murky, they should continue to pound the rock on Sunday like they did against Green Bay.
Success should be found on the ground against Detroit, who features the 32nd ranked rushing defensive DVOA. Last week, the Lions were gashed on the ground by the Seahawks as Rashaad Penny rumbled for 151 yards on 17 carries. The Patriots should be able to replicate that success, perhaps behind their six offensive line package with Marcus Cannon, on Sunday.
The pick: Damien Harris Over 58.5 rushing yards (-115)
Winning with Williams
While the Patriots should have success rushing the football, the Lions rushing attack is nothing to gloss over either. Detroit leads the league in yards per rush and are second in expected points added per rush. Even with lead back D'Andre Swift (shoulder/ankle) sidelined, backup Jamaal Williams has stepped right in and produced 87 and 108 yards in back-to-back games.
Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson should continue to look to run the ball on Sunday. New England's rush defense has been leaky to start the season, ranking 31st in terms of rushing DVOA and allow the highest rate of positive yards per carry in the league. New England has not gotten the production they've wanted from their new-look linebacker core in the run game - perhaps leading to the signing of Jamie Collins. To make matters worse, Lawrence Guy (shoulder) was ruled out for New England which will make life easier for Detroit's downhill rushing attack.
The pick: Jamaal Williams Over 60.5 rushing yards (-120)
Even without starting quarterback Mac Jones, the Patriots should be able to move the ball on the aggressive Detroit defense that has allowed a touchdown on 37 percent of opponent possessions - the highest mark in the league. There should be room on the ground for New England as well as through the air, where the Lions rank 24th in passing defense DVOA. With blitz-heavy tendencies, plays could be had by Bailey Zappe if he can improve his issues from under pressure that plagued him last week.
On Detroit's end, the top-ranked scoring offense has scored a touchdown on 37.5 percent of their drives this season - the highest rate in the league. While they're hampered without D'Andre Swift and wide receivers DJ Chark and Quintez Cephus, they too should be able to move the ball on the ground, while big plays could continue to be available for Jared Goff off play-action (119.1 passer rating, five touchdowns).
In total, games that feature Detroit this year have averaged a league-high 70.3 combined points per game. While that number may be ambitious with a backup quarterback, points should be scored at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots last seven games have gone over the point total.
The pick: Total Over 45.5 (-105)
Zappely Ever After
As the Patriots will try to rely on their top ranked rushing attack on Sunday, they will ultimately need likely starter Bailey Zappe to make more plays with his arm this week. Last week against Detroit, Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith dropped 48 points on the blitz-happy Lions' defense. Smith picked apart Detroit in play-action and was efficient in the shotgun, creating the potential game plan for New England success.
Defensively for the Patriots, the Lions are without several of their key playmakers and top receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (ankle) remains questionable. We'll take our chances that a Bill Belichick-led defense can limit Jared Goff on the road, where Detroit has dropped 10 of their last 11 games.
The pick: Patriots ML (-165)