As the Patriots fly out to Los Angeles to play the Chargers, football fans are preparing for one of the more entertaining games on the Sunday NFL slate.
Two young quarterbacks will face off in Mac Jones and Justin Herbert, while two high-level coaches will play chess in Bill Belichick and Brandon Staley. The Chargers have obviously looked like the better team so far, but I wouldn’t count out the Patriots in this cross-country matchup.
Last season, the Patriots went into Los Angeles as three-point underdogs and came away with a 45-point victory. The Patriots have beaten the Chargers in nine of the last 10 meetings between the two, and have covered in eight of them.
However, the Patriots and Chargers have both changed significantly this season, and Los Angeles is laying 5.5 points as a result. But can we trust Staley and company against Belichick? Or is it time to buy back on the Patriots?
Please note that all NFL Week 8 odds and lines are current as of 12 PM EST on Friday, October 29.
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Patriots vs Chargers Prediction
The 2021 Patriots are starting to build a certain kind of reputation. Outside of their two blowout victories against the Jets, New England has either played up or down to its opponent.
New England’s games against the Buccaneers, Cowboys, Dolphins and Texans all came down to one score. Those four games were decided by a total of 12 points. Belichick knows how to prepare for a premier opponent, but has also laid eggs against the NFL’s bottom-feeders.
It is tempting to take the Chargers at home off a bye, but 5.5 points is too many. This game will come down to the wire again and I’ve seen projections that make this spread closer to 3 or 3.5.
Regardless of which team wins, I believe that this game will be decided by a field goal. Therefore, I’d take the points in this spot.
Patriots vs. Chargers Prediction: Chargers 28, Patriots 27
Patriots vs Chargers Best Bets
Best Bet: Patriots +4.5 (-110) at SugarHouse
Wager: 1 Unit
The Patriots have done a lot of things right this season. Mac Jones has looked great, the secondary has played well, and the coaching — although super conservative — has kept the team in games.
However, the offensive line has been putrid. What was supposed to be the backbone of the team has turned into a total liability. Although they’ve suffered injuries to the unit, the o-line has still played well below its expectations. Entering their Week 7 game against the Jets, the Patriots ranked 22nd in adjusted line yards.
However, their most recent experiment — LT Isaiah Wynn, LG Ted Karras, C David Andrews, RG Shaq Mason, RG Michael Onwenu — worked. It was against the Jets, but the one of New York’s few strengths is a decent defensive front that has largely kept opposing ground attacks at bay. But last Sunday, Damien Harris ran for 106 yards on 14 attempts (7.6 YPC), and he combined with J.J. Taylor for four rushing touchdowns.
Plus, Jones had all the time in the world to go four-deep through his progressions.
This week could be more of the same for New England as the Chargers rank last in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA and rushing success rate allowed, and 31st in PFF’s rush defense grades.
New England will ground-and-pound its way to a cover Sunday. While Herbert can throw the Chargers to a cover every week, the Patriots have a physical secondary with a front seven led by Matt Judon.
I like New England’s chances to cover this relatively large number.
Best Bet: Over 49 Total Points (-109) at SugarHouse
Wager: 0.25 Units
This total opened way down at 46.5 per our NFL gameday odds, but has since been bet up. I’m expecting it to move even more, so I’d grab this line ASAP before it does.
However, the majority of the money is coming in on the under. We characterize that as reverse line movement, and it’s a profitable bet signal.
The Patriots have been a popular under team this season, considering their conservative offensive approach and stifling defense. However, the over has hit in three straight games for the Patriots, and I love their chances to put points on the board against the Chargers’ lackluster front seven.
Meanwhile, I don’t have to explain to you what the Chargers can do on offense. They rank top-10 in EPA per play and are scoring more than 25 points per game.
I don’t think there’s a lot of value in this number, so I’d like to keep this play smaller. However, the value is with the over, which I’d play up to 50.
Tanner McGrath’s 2021 NFL Betting Record: 7-11, -2.55 Units
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