Week 14 kicks off with the New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night football, where the Rams are (-5.5) point favorites against the spread. However, Los Angeles initially opened as a (-6.5) point favorite, but the early betting market bet that number down to five at most sportsbooks.
Considering the line move, is there any value to be had in the Patriots vs Rams point spread this Thursday night football? Let’s find out.
Yards Per Play Differential
I use a team’s yards per play differential as a baseline for setting a point spread. Adam Chernoff wrote an article a few years ago, outlining how and why using a team’s YPP differential can be profitable from a sports betting perspective. For instance, you take how many YPP a team averages on offense, subtracted by the YPP they surrender on defense and divide it by 0.2 to create a spread value. 0.2 represents a league-average team.
Using that formula, we have the Rams with a (+6) spread value (5.8-4.6), while the Patriots have a (-2) spread value (5.4-5.8). Those values suggest the Rams are six points better than an average team on a neutral field: the Patriots, of course, being two points worse.
As a result, the Rams should be (-8) point favorites over the Patriots. Of course, you can’t establish a handicap off of one stat, narrative, or metric.
Quarterback/Head Coach spread factors for Patriots vs. Rams
After determining the YPP differential, I like to compare each team’s quarterback play and Head Coach. I like comparing the Head Coach and QBs because the NFL is a coaching league.
The table below shows each QB’s Adjusted Net Yards per attempt (ANY/A) figure, completion percentage over-expectation (CPOE), and passing success rate for the offense. The number in parenthesis is the league rank.
|Player||Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt||Completion Percentage over Expectation||Offense Passing Success Rate|
|Newton||5.39 (26th)||-1.5 (27th)||46% (23rd)|
|Goff||6.75 (14th)||+1.2 (15th)||54% (3rd)|
The early game against the Seattle Seahawks has proven to be a farce. Other than that game, Cam Newton has provided next to nothing in the passing game for New England. As far as Goff, he’s played well, but a lot of that is the game plan Sean McVay implements. No one will have a coaching advantage over Bill Belichick, but McVay won’t be at as significant of a disadvantage as most coaches would in this spot.
Having said that, if you can pressure Goff, you can disrupt the Rams offense. However, I don’t expect the Patriots to have success in pressuring Goff. New England ranks 28th in Football Outsiders defensive line adjusted sack rate, while the Rams offensive line ranks second. As a result, I don’t expect McVay’s game plan to be hampered by the New England defense.
What’s more, New England’s defense is 31st in early-down rushing success rate and 32nd in early-down passing success rate. Los Angeles is third and sixth on offense, respectively. This bodes exceptionally well for the Rams covering their point spread vs the Patriots.
Patriots run game
The way the Patriots look to move the ball is by the run. They have a 48/52 pass/rush split on early downs in neutral game scripts. As a result, they have the third-highest rush rate in the league. Unfortunately, the Rams rank 10th in rushing success rate against on early downs. As a result, Newton will have to make plays with his arm, and I don’t see him succeeding.
Patriots struggle vs. above-average offenses
Belichick is a great coach, but he can only do so much. The Patriots have faced an above-average offense (in terms of YPP averaged) six times this year; the results have not been in their favor.
|Opponent||Offensive YPP||Result straight up||Result against the spread|
|@ Seattle||6.0||Loss 35-30||Loss +4|
|@ Kansas City||6.5||Loss 26-10||Loss +11|
|vs San Francisco||5.7||Loss 33-6||Loss -3|
|@ Buffalo||6.0||Loss 24-21||Win +4|
|@ Houston||6.3||Loss 27-20||Loss -2.5|
|vs Arizona||5.8||Win 20-17||Win +1|
**League average YPP is 5.5**
That’s 1-5 straight up, 2-4 against the spread. Six games isn’t much of a sample size, but it makes sense that New England would struggle against offenses that can move the ball. While New England has successfully run the ball (7th in rushing success rate), their passing offense is limited. As a result, if they fall behind by multiple scores, it’ll be exceptionally challenging to mount a comeback against Ram’s top-ranked defense (4.6 YPP allowed).
Is there value in the Patriots vs. Rams point spread?
While the betting market took New England early, I’m looking to buy back on the Rams here for several reasons:
- They have an advantage in both offense and defense
- Belichick’s coaching advantage won’t be as pronounced against McVay
- Goff has played better than Newton
- New England has struggled against above-average offenses
One last note is the Rams’ YPP differential (+1.2) is the best in the league. That is due in part to the soft competition they’ve faced. However, they’ve performed very well against those inferior foes.
One narrative that gives me some pause in betting this Thursday night football spread is Belichick’s scheme vs Goff. This is important because we saw Belichick and Brian Flores stymie a great Rams offense in the Super Bowl a few years ago. In Week 8, we saw the Rams have, arguably, their worst performance of the season against the Miami Dolphins. Miami is, of course, captained by Brian Flores.
Because of that, I haven’t bet this spread myself as of this writing. However, if the Patriots vs. Rams spread stays below six, I may place a small bet on Los Angeles. But other than the narrative I described above, I don’t think this spread should be below a touchdown.
Alternative betting angles
If you’re looking to bet something other than the Patriots vs Rams spread on Thursday night football, there are some options available.
The first two I like are the under on Newton completions (18.5 -130) and under passing yards (180.5 -110). Newton has only hit over 18.5 completions and passing yards (180.5) three times all season. Those three matchups came against teams ranked in the top 10 of easiest matchups for QBs in fantasy football.
The other bet I like is the over on any “longest passing/receiving yards” prop for the Rams. New England is 30th in explosive pass rate, while Los Angeles is a middling 13th on offense. Josh Reynolds has the highest depth of target on the team, but any one of the Rams’ WR’s could get there.