Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY. Pictured: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady
- The Los Angeles Chargers are 4-point underdogs in Foxborough on Sunday against the Patriots (1:05 p.m. ET, CBS).
- Tom Brady's quarterback rating drops from 105.3 to 71.2 when he is and isn't pressured by opposing defenses.
- Using Bet Labs, we find out what impact sacking Brady has on the Patriots against the spread record.
Tom Brady is a different quarterback when he is and isn’t being pressured, like most passers. The future Hall of Famer completed 65.8% of his passes with 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a quarterback rating (QBR) of 97.7 this season.
In a clean pocket TB12 was lights out, completing 71.7% of his attempts for 20 touchdowns and six interceptions and his QBR was 105.3 per Pro Football Focus. But when under duress, Brady’s numbers dropped.
Facing pressure, the Patriots quarterback’s completion percentage sunk to 45.3% and he threw nine touchdowns against five picks with a QBR of 71.2. For perspective, Blake Bortles’ QBR in 2018 was 79.8.
When a team successfully pressures Brady, it turns Tom Terrific into Bortles!
When Brady is sacked one or fewer times, the Patriots are 119-25 (82.6%) straight up (SU). New England’s record slips to 115-45 (71.9%) SU when an opposing team is able to manufacture a pass rush (two or more sacks).
This might not look like a big decrease, but it has an impact on the Pats’ ability to cover the spread.
After analyzing all 304 games that Brady has started, the key to covering against the Patriots is sacking the quarterback. New England is 96-46-2 (67.6%) against the spread (ATS) when Brady stays upright most of the game (one or fewer sacks) per Bet Labs.
However, if opponents get after the quarterback (four or more sacks) the Pats have gone 13-21-1 (38.2%) ATS.
Can the Los Angeles Chargers (+4) harass Brady enough to cover in Foxborough on Sunday (1:05 p.m. ET, CBS)? The Chargers finished the regular season with 38 sacks (tied 19th) and a pressure rate of 28.9% (22nd). On paper this doesn’t bode well for LA’s chances of getting after Brady.
Of course, what you might not know is the Chargers’ star pass rusher Joey Bosa missed the team’s first nine games. Since entering the league in 2016, Bosa ranks third in the NFL in sacks per game (0.81). When paired with Melvin Ingram, Bosa gives the Chargers one of the best pass rushes in football.
Look no further than last weekend’s matchup against the Baltimore Ravens for proof. The Chargers sacked Lamar Jackson seven times with Bosa and Ingram accounting for three of the takedowns.
More than 60% of spread tickets are on the Chargers to cover. If Bosa, Ingram and the rest of LA’s defense can badger Brady, the public will cash their tickets.