Patriots’ season looks like it can’t be salvaged

Bill Belichick might not have any hard feelings toward Josh McDaniels, who was his offensive coordinator for many successful seasons. But even if he did, he doesn’t have the team to get much revenge on his old protege.

The New England Patriots aren’t capable of imposing their will on anyone this season. They followed up the worst loss of Belichick’s coaching career with the second-worst loss of his career. That was telling because for Belichick’s career, the Patriots always seemed to rally and win after embarrassing losses.

They’re just not capable of that anymore.

The problem with the Patriots is clear. They just don’t have enough blue-chip talent. They also don’t have a quarterback who can cover up those issues. It’s not good and it’s going to take a few years to fix it all. Whether Bill Belichick will be part of fixing it next season and beyond is a discussion that’s coming.

That’s what makes the point spread for their Week 6 game a little odd.

The Patriots have been either the worst or second-worst team in the NFL the past two weeks, depending what you think of the Giants, and they’re just +3 at BetMGM for Sunday’s game against the Raiders. That probably says something about how little respect the Raiders have in the market.

The case for New England is they’re going to want to bounce back after being embarrassed, but that didn’t work last week. You could have an angle of the Patriots knowing McDaniels too well, but the same could be said for McDaniels knowing the Patriots. If you’re picking a bad New England team on the road, it’s blind faith in Belichick (he still is a good coach, just one who is really struggling to acquire talent) or a total fade of the Raiders. Nothing we’ve seen from the Patriots the past couple weeks leads to any confidence in them playing better this week, or the rest of the season.

I’ll take the Raiders -3. We’ve seen enough of the Patriots to know they are one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Raiders aren’t good either, but losing to this version of New England at home would be pretty bad.

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has had two bad games in a row. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has had two bad games in a row. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald) (MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Here are the picks against the spread for the Week 6 NFL games, with the odds from BetMGM:

Broncos (+10.5) over Chiefs

NFL betting includes taking plenty of really ugly underdogs, and they don’t get much uglier than this, as explained in The Daily Sweat.

Ravens (-4) over Titans

London games can be weird, but unlike the Jaguars games there at least both of these teams are in the same odd situation. The Titans keep going between looking OK and horrible, but it really seems like they’re just not very good. The Ravens also shouldn’t drop a million passes like they did last week.

Falcons (-2.5) over Commanders

My line on Atlanta hasn’t changed: When they’re facing bad or mediocre teams, they’ll win most of those games, especially at home. I don’t think they have the ceiling to beat many good teams (the promising news for them is their schedule is tissue soft). The Commanders are certainly a bad-to-mediocre team.

Bears (+2.5) over Vikings

I don’t know what to make of Minnesota without Justin Jefferson. Typically the Vikings, who are a very unlucky 1-4, laying less than a field goal against the Bears just because Chicago had one positive outing would be the greenest of lights. But Jefferson is one of the non-quarterbacks that should truly impact the spread. Also, I wonder if the latest loss and having Jefferson goes on IR puts the Vikings in a bad place. Hard to know what to make of the Vikings now.

Seahawks (+2.5) over Bengals

I’d rather have the full field goal, obviously, but still like Seattle. The Seahawks are 3-1 and that includes a road win at Detroit that’s aging really well. They’re also coming off a bye week. Are the Bengals back just because they had one positive outing at Arizona? We’ll find out.

49ers (-7) over Browns

If Deshaun Watson plays, then seven points is too much for the Browns. Their defense is still very, very good. But if it’s P.J. Walker? Oh my. The whole Browns/Watson injury situation is getting a bit weird. The 49ers defense is going to feast. This is a pick that I’m making on Thursday but really need to see the injury report before I’d feel good about it.

Panthers (+13.5) over Dolphins

Not rushing to the window with this pick, but I reflexively take double-digit underdogs in the NFL. And maybe the Dolphins offense slows down just a bit without De’Von Achane? Probably not, but I don’t think the Panthers are going winless against the spread this season.

Colts (+4) over Jaguars

It’s a bummer that Anthony Richardson will be out for at least a month. He’s electric. But Gardner Minshew II is a capable backup. The Colts can obviously run the ball. The Jaguars seemed to get right in London, but it really seems like they have a bigger home-field advantage in England than Florida. They navigate that trip better than anyone, having done it frequently. Maybe the Jaguars are finally ready to run away with the division, but I think the Colts can at least keep it close.

Texans (+1.5) over Saints

Houston is a competitive, feisty team. The big question here is how much credit to give the Saints for last week’s 34-0 win over the Patriots, and how much blame to put on New England. You don’t win like that in a road NFL game without being pretty good. I’ll ride with the Texans, but am open to the possibility of the Saints being better than we think.

Cardinals (+7) over Rams

I wish the Cardinals had running back James Conner, who is having a good season but went to IR. Still, he’s not the only reason Arizona has been much more competitive than its 1-4 record would indicate. A full touchdown feels like too much for the Rams to lay.

Jets (+7) over Eagles

I really feel like I’m going to pick the Jets every week. And the reason will always be the same: Their defense is too good to be laying a bunch of points.

Lions (-3) over Buccaneers

I don’t want to just label the Bucs a fraud, and the win at New Orleans was really good, but I still wonder about their ability to punch up in competition. And the Lions are legitimately one of the NFL’s elite teams.

Bills (-14.5) over Giants

Well, this is bad. The Giants are simply uncompetitive. It’s bad when you don’t see any fight from a team in early October, and I don’t see much from New York. Their injury report is ridiculously long coming into this game. The Bills will be mad after losing last week to Jacksonville in London. This might be the only time I take a favorite of 14 or more in the NFL all season.

Cowboys (-2.5) over Chargers

I don’t think you can assign the Chargers any home-field advantage in this game. In fact, maybe the Cowboys deserve a half-point. More on this game Monday.

Last week: 6-8

Season to date: 41-35-2

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