Are The Patriots Underrated?

How often can we say that a Boston team is not getting enough attention from the media?

Never.

But that might be the case here, as the Patriots are far and away the best team in the NFL but aren’t getting nearly the respect they deserve.

Their 8-3 record may not look incredible, but their three losses have come by a combined four points. Four whole points! New England has finally found a consistent running game with Steven Ridley, and their passing attack has been clicking on all cylinders, even without their tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Herenandez.

But perhaps the most impressive turnaround for this team has been the defense. The rush defense is 10th in the league, and they’ve forced 32 turnovers. The Pats also finally have an influx of young talent with big years from rookies Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones, and Tavon Wilson.

Here is a team with 7.3 more points per game than any other team. A team that dominates the two most important stats in the game: point differential and turnover margin.

It’s almost like the 2007 team–with a better defense.

I took a week off making picks, but things seemed to have worked out. I’ve won 200 apples the past two weeks, and I finally have a winning record to match my big apples surplus. Let’s keep the strong picks rolling. As always, home teams are in CAPS.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games:

CHARGERS (+1) over Bengals
At what point do we just accept that there’s nothing Norv Turner can ever do to get fired? I mean Ray Rice’s magical 30-yard catch on 4th-and-29 was about the most embarrasing play of the year.

Jaguars (+6) over BILLS
Ain’t nobody got time for that.

JETS (-6) over Cardinals
If the Jets can’t beat Ryan Lindley at home, who are they going to beat?

Eagles (+10.5) over COWBOYS
This game fits perfectly into the Never-Give-Double-Digit-Points-In-A-Game-With-Two-Hilariously-Sad-Teams mold.

Vikings (+7.5) over PACKERS
I really thought the Packers were off to great places last week, having won five straight games. Turns out beating St. Louis, Jacksonville, Arizona, and Detroit isn’t as impressive as it looks, as the Giants showed us.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games:

FALCONS (-3) over Saints
I always have trouble taking the Saints against a team with a strong defense. In general, it’s just really hard to win games with a Matador Defense.

RAMS (+7.5) over Niners
I picked the Rams (+13) over the Niners on the road three weeks ago, so I’ll be taking them at home again with the points. And as much hype as Colin Kaepernick has received (and I’m on board the bandwagon), he’s only averaging 197 yards passing per game. That would be good for 28th in the NFL.

Buccaneers (+7.5) over BRONCOS
How can you not love Josh Freeman, Doug Martin, and these young Bucs?

Colts (+7) over Lions
The Colts have been my secret sneaky good team lately, covering five of their last six games. The not so subtle secret: Andrew Luck is really good.

Steelers (+7.5) over RAVENS
Seven of the last eight Steelers/Ravens games have been won by less points than this line. In fact, six of those were just by 3 points. Ben Roethlisberger or Charlie Batch, I don’t want to give up that many points with these defenses.

Don't look now, but the Patriots l

Don’t look now, but the Patriots have by far the best turnover margin in the league (24, compared to the next best at 13) and the best points differential in the league (+163, compared to the next best at +121). Why doesn’t this team get more press?

KFC Double Down Games:

Patriots (-7.5) over DOLPHINS
Ah, the point in the season where you take the Patriots without hesitation unless there’s a double digit line. And if there is a double digit line, think about it for a while and settle on the Patriots.

Panthers (-3) over CHIEFS
I can’t imagine how the Chiefs are going to play too well after a tragedy like what happened on Saturday. Also, isn’t this one of the few reasons an NFL game should be delayed? Out of respect for the family and team, I think this game would be better played on Tuesday.

GIANTS (-3) over Redskins
Time to pile off the Redskins bandwagon!

Texans (-7) over TITANS
Houston’s D will shut down Chris Johnson, leaving Tennessee no chance. This line really should be higher.

Browns (-2.5) over RAIDERS
Oakland has lost it’s last three games a combined 169-79. That’s 22.5 points per game–and if my math is correct–20 points more than this line.

Drink Cheerwine Lock o’ the Week:

BEARS (-3) over Seahawks
Chicago is 8-2 when Jay Cutler starts this year, and one of those losses came when Cutler was knocked out mid-way through. As for the Seahawks? They’re 5-0 at home, but 1-5 on the road. And this game’s at Soldier Field.

Overall record: 86-84-4

Last week: 10-4-2

Apple Total: 330

Apple Total Last Week: 100

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