Patriots vs Broncos Odds, Prediction, Pick | Sunday Night Football

Patriots vs Broncos Odds, Prediction, Pick | Sunday Night Football article feature image

Action Network Design Team. Pictured: Bailey Zappe (left) and Russell Wilson (right).

Patriots vs Broncos Odds, Prediction, Pick | Sunday Night Football

Sunday, Dec. 24
8:15 p.m. ET
NFL Network
Patriots Odds
-110o / -110u
Broncos Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Patriots vs Broncos odds have the Broncos listed as 7-point favorites on the spread with an over/under of 37.5 total points for this Week 16 Christmas Eve game on Sunday night.

If you have to be up bright and early on Christmas Day, you're in luck! This SNF matchup is a certified snoozefest.

The Patriots are a football catastrophe, entering Week 16 with a 3-11 record on the heels of a loss to the Chiefs. There will be more Bailey Zappe, who's claim to fame is that he isn't Mac Jones (more on this later). The Patriots will be without a number of key contributors on offense, as Hunter Henry (knee), JuJu Smith-Schuster (ankle) and Rhamondre Stevenson (ankle) have been ruled out.  As for the Broncos, they were pummeled by the Lions last Saturday and desperately need a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Continue reading below for my Sunday Night Football betting preview and Patriots vs Broncos prediction.

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Patriots vs Broncos Prediction

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Patriots vs. Broncos

Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Patriots and Broncos match up statistically:

Patriots vs. Broncos DVOA Breakdown
Overall DVOA2730
Pass DVOA2825
Rush DVOA1932
Overall DVOA1614
Pass DVOA1721
Rush DVOA121

As only cruel fate would have it, the starting quarterback of the Patriots fittingly has a last name that rhymes with "crappy."

While Bailey Zappe's play hasn't been as rage inducing to New England fans/backers as that of Mac Jones, the latter has objectively been the better quarterback by nearly every relevant passing metric:

  • Completion rate: Jones 64.9%, Zappe 60.2%
  • Yards per attempt: Jones 6.1, Zappe 5.8
  • Net yards per attempt: Jones 5.4, Zappe 4.6
  • Sack rate: Jones 6.0%, Zappe 9.6%
  • QBR: Jones 36.8, Zappe 26.7
  • EPA/Play: Jones -0.133, Zappe -0.302
  • Success rate: Jones 43.3%, Zappe 35.3%

There's no need for the Patriots to ask Zappe to do too much here as the Broncos rank last in run defense, having allowed 120 or more rushing yards in eight of their 14 games.

The Patriots' rushing attack isn't at full strength, however, with Rhamondre Stevenson (questionable) nursing a high ankle sprain that has caused him to miss the last two games and start the practice week with back-to-back DNPs. If Stevenson can't go, Ezekiel Elliott will get another start. Elliott has been less efficient than Stevenson, averaging 3.6 yards per carry with a 47.6% success rate, compared to Stevenson's 4.0 and 49.4% marks.

New England's offensive line took a hit when left guard Cole Strange (knee) was placed on injured reserve this past week, presumably thrusting Atonio Mafi back into the starting lineup. Among 77 qualified guards at PFF entering Week 16, Strange ranks 28th with a 64.7 grade and Mafi ranks 76th with a 31.0 grade.

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The Broncos offense should struggle against the Patriots defense. Prior to allowing 27 points to the Chiefs, the Patriots allowed point totals of 18, six, 10 and 10 in their previous four games. After the Broncos started 1-4, Sean Payton seemingly made a concerted effort to hide Russell Wilson.

Payton dialed up 32.6 pass attempts per game over the first five contests, but just 27.6 over the last nine. Despite solid basic stats (66.3% completion rate, 24 touchdowns, eight interceptions), Wilson ranks 20th in QBR (50.0) and has had issues with holding the ball too long, telegraphing passes, failing to spot open receivers downfield and throwing high-degree-of-difficulty deep passes that Courtland Sutton has bailed him out on numerous times.

Denver's run-heavy approach doesn't figure to change much in inclement weather, but rushing efficiency will be hard to come by against a Patriots defense that ranks No. 1 in DVOA against the run.

The one area where the Broncos offense should be able to have success is targeting running backs out of the backfield. Entering Week 16, the Broncos lead the NFL in receptions (101) and receiving yards (678) by running backs, while the Patriots are 31st in DVOA on passes to running backs.

With that said, it would be a misnomer to say the Broncos have been successful throwing to running backs — they've only been successful throwing to Samaje Perine, who typically plays on third downs and in the two-minute offense. Perine is averaging 8.6 yards per target and has a 68.9% success rate on 45 targets while Javonte Williams (4.0, 46.5% on 43 targets) and Jaleel McLaughlin (4.0, 32.1% on 28 targets) have been ineffective.

Patriots vs. Broncos

Betting Picks & Predictions

This game profiles as one with a lot of designed runs and check-downs, which should bleed the clock and lead to long-scoring drives when (if?) the teams score.

Forecasts of freezing temperatures and possible snow also have something to do with it. Any way you slice it, this game is a great bet to continue the primetime under trend.

Entering Week 16, primetime unders are 30-17 (64%) this season and 66-35 (65%) since the start of last season, per our Action Labs data. Non-divisional primetime unders that have dropped more than one point have been even better, going 57-24 (70%) since 2016.

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