The Patriots Line: Are Pats too heavily favored vs. Broncos? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The New England Patriots will finally return to action in Week 6. We think.
The Patriots are set to face the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium on Sunday despite placing four players on their COVID-19/reserve list within the last 48 hours. The clubs originally were scheduled to play in Week 5, so they've both had nearly two weeks to prepare for each other.
New England was a heavy underdog in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs, but the tables have turned for Week 6: The 2-2 Patriots are favored by more than a touchdown over the 1-3 Broncos. (Odds provided by our partner, PointsBet.)
Spread: Patriots -8.5 (-105), Broncos +8.5 (-115)
Moneyline: Patriots -420, Broncos +320
Total: Over 45 points (-110), Under 45 points (-110)
This is the heaviest the Patriots have been favored in a game this season, as sportsbooks expect New England to cruise with quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore returning off the COVID-19/reserve list.
The Patriots opened as 10-point favorites, though, so there's clearly some belief that Denver can make a game out of this.
NFL pundits aren't so sure, however: Most predict New England to roll by double digits on Sunday.
FiveThirtyEight's Win Probability: Patriots 61%, Broncos 39%
ESPN's FPI: Patriots 63.6% (by an average of 4.8 points)
Pro Football Talk: Patriots 28, Broncos 17 (Michael David Smith)
Patriots 31, Broncos 17 (Mike Florio)
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Patriots 27, Broncos 23
Bleacher Report: Patriots 30, Broncos 13
Sporting News: Patriots 30, Broncos 14
The Broncos' top two offensive weapons -- running back Melvin Gordon (illness) and tight end Noah Fant (ankle) both have been ruled out Sunday, so that may explain the lack of confidence in Denver.
Lest you think the Patriots are in the clear as 8.5-point favorites, though, consider these three betting trends, courtesy of Rotoworld's EDGE Finder:
Trend No. 1: The Patriots are 7-6 against the spread over the last three seasons when favored by eight points or more in a home game.
Trend No. 2: The Broncos are 10-5 against the spread as underdogs since the beginning of the 2019 season but have only won four of those 15 games straight-up.
Trend No. 3: The Patriots are 5-3 at home following a bye week in the Bill Belichick era (since 2000) but are 1-7 against the spread in those games.
Is that enough evidence to back the Broncos as road underdogs Sunday?
Here's our game pick for Patriots-Broncos:
Our pick: Patriots -8.5
Expect the Patriots to play the possession game and lean heavily on the run with Newton back under center. Without Gordon and Fant, the Broncos simply don't have enough firepower to do significant damage against this New England defense. A motivated Denver team starts out hot but loses steam against a superior opponent. Patriots 27, Broncos 17.