Let the Pats Pad Your Wallet
They say Week 3 of the NFL pre-season is 'dress rehearsal' week ... the week of the pre-season that looks most like a regular-season game.
If that is the case, then it begs for the question: Why are the Patriots underdogs to the Lions?
And honestly, I don't have any answers. Granted, the Pats slipped a little last year, and they don't have all in their arsenal from a season ago (thank you Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker, just to name a couple), but does anybody think they have fallen so far that they should be a dog in Detroit? I certainly don't.
And before you start saying, "It's just the pre-season," let's refer back to Line 1 above -- it's also the third pre-season game that, in terms of playing time for starters and game planning, most closely resembles a regular season game. And in the regular season, I am taking Tom Brady & Company and any points I can get just about any time they are offered, and they are here (+2 at Bovada).
Brady and the first unit are expected to play at least to the half and possibly into the third quarter. In the meantime, Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson may not play at all due to injury. If he does, I wouldn't expect him to be put in too many vulnerable situations where his bruised knee could be further aggravated.
The Lions offense does need Johnson because quarterback Matt Stafford hasn't exactly lit it up so far in this pre-season. Stafford's numbers are 14-24 for 132 yards with no TD's or picks. Not the numbers that warrant much hope he can keep up with the Brady bunch.
And when Brady does get the hook, it will be for improving, second-year signal caller Ryan Mallett. The first time the Lions go to the bench for a signal caller, it will be former Boise State standout Kellen Moore, who is moving up in the depth chart with Lions second-stringer Shaun Hill sitting out due to injury. So even in the all-important battle of the second-unit quarterbacks, I give a strong nod to the Patriots.
And one other nugget about this game: these two met up in Week 3 of the pre-season two years ago, and the Lions manhandled the Patriots 34-10. Not that that game has made this a big 'revenge' match, but it is something discussed in Patriots camp; I don't think anything close to a repeat performace would be acceptable to them.
I not only will be playing the Pats here, but I'm going to add extra value by playing them on the money line.
It's always a good idea to do that with football dogs of less than a field goal, as the only way it hurts you is if they lose by one or two points. In any other scenario, the money line gets you more bang for the buck, or lessens the loss. That's something I don't think backers will have to worry about here.
My pick: Patriots straight up on the money line.
Result ... Detroit 40 New England 9 Lions cover
Steve Soprano is the founder and handicapper at www.premierticketsports.com