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NFL Picks: Detroit Hosts the Patriots, Tom Brady at Ford Field

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New England arrives in town without a win this preseason, having dropped its first two games against Jacksonville (31-24) and Houston (27-23).  The Patriots’ defense has been gashed for 144 rushing yards per game at 4.4 yards per rush attempt, while their secondary has allowed 9.8 yards per pass attempt.

In contrast, the Lions take the field with a perfect 2-0 preseason record with wins over Indianapolis (24-10) and the Jets (16-6).  Detroit’s defense has allowed just 68 rushing yards per game at 3.3 yards per rush attempt, while its secondary has limited opposing quarterbacks to 235 passing yards at 4.5 yards per pass attempt.

Detroit is 6-2 in its last eight preseason meetings against the Patriots, including a 40-9 victory on August 22, 2013.  Based on all of this data, why would sharp bettors be backing the Patriots in this Week Three affair?  Pinnacle Sports Book opened this game as a pick-em, but professional money has driven the line to New England -2.5/-3 depending on the book.

Detroit has run the table in the preseason before – in 2008 – and proceeded to finish the regular season winless (0-16).  That fact alone should temper enthusiasm surrounding the Lions’ 2-0 start to the 2017 preseason.  In addition, Detroit’s wins have come against two hapless foes – Indianapolis and the Jets – who played without viable quarterbacks.

There is no comparison between tonight’s quarterback, Tom Brady, and the likes of Scott Tolzien and Christian Hackenberg.  New England ranked fourth in passing offense last season despite missing their best tight end, Rob Gronkowski, for half the season.  The Patriots will have every weapon available tonight, including Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks.

New England also possesses a solid backfield with Dion Lewis, James White and Rex Burkhead.  Mike Gillislee was a full participant at practice this week after an MRI on his hamstring came back clean and should see extended action tonight.

The Patriots are one of the best-conditioned teams in the NFL because head coach Bill Belichick increases the playing time of his starters through the first three games of the preseason.  In Week Three, Belichick has traditionally allowed his starters to play into the third quarter to give them a feel for what it’s like to come out of the locker room at half time and play.

In short, New England is more talented and deeper at every skill position than the Lions and their previous two preseason opponents.   Detroit Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter has placed an emphasis on the running game after the Lions finished 30th in the NFL last season. “It’s a big, big, big point of emphasis for me, myself,” Cooter said.  Detroit averaged a mere 81.9 rushing yards per game last season.

Detroit will be without running back Theo Riddick, who is still wearing a red no-contact jersey at practice.  That’s bad news in light of the fact that the Patriots ranked eighth in total defense last year and will be prepared to put forth their best effort tonight.

From a technical standpoint, New England applies to a very good 23-6 ATS (79%) preseason system that invests on certain 0-2 SU Game Three road favorites.  Finally, New England is 20-13 ATS in Game Three of the preseason, including covering each of the last three contests in Week Three.

Take the New England Patriots as one of Oskeim Sports’ NFL picks for Friday, August 25. Unfortunately, Oskeim does not have any more NFL picks for today.  However, be sure to visit Oskeim’s Blog for daily NFL picks, free betting advice and live odds.

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