New England Patriots fans should be worried about their team. Very worried.
Yes, the Patriots still have Tom Brady quarterbacking their team -- though he has looked like anything but a three-time Super Bowl champion lately.
And yes, excluding Sunday's game against the Jets, the winning percentage of New England's remaining opponents is a putrid .352.
They might end up with 10 or 11 wins and get into the playoffs. But let's not confuse this team with a Super Bowl contender. The Patriots are a highly flawed team that is hurting both the fans rooting for them and bettors backing them.
The NFL Sweat Barometer, concocted by Behind The Bets head honcho Chad Millman and Sal Selvaggio from MadduxSports.com, measures the margin by which teams cover -- or don't cover -- the spread each week. Need a better explanation than that? Check out the box to the right.
The Patriots? Well, they haven't been doing much covering -- of spreads or wide receivers. Their defense ranks 26th in the NFL overall, according to Football Outsiders, and is dead last with a mind-boggling 54.0 percent DVOA (remember, positive DVOA is bad on defense) against No. 1 receivers -- only one other team is above 37 percent DVOA. That doesn't bode well for New England's chances of stopping Santonio Holmes this week.
Their offense, though still ranked second in the NFL by FO, is struggling to throw the deep ball and stretch defenses, and has looked pedestrian the past three weeks. Brady has averaged just 6.63 YPA over the past three contests, far below his career YPA of 7.44.
"Teams have adjusted to this Patriots offense," Jay Kornegay says. "New England has no speed and can't stretch the field anymore. Teams know this, and can play tight and disrupt the Patriots' short passing game."
The issues confronting the gambling world regarding the Patriots are threefold:
First, the Patriots are one of the top public teams, so they always receive well over 50 percent of the wagers each week. This season, they've received an average of 67 percent of the public's bets every game and have been faded by the public in only one game (Week 9 versus the Giants).
Second, they are the third-most-favored team in the NFL with an average closing line of minus-6.63 points a game, so they have had big spreads to cover.
And third, they just aren't covering those spreads. In fact, they haven't even been close. New England is just 20th in the Sweat Barometer with an SB number of minus-1.88, plummeting from 14th last week. In their last three games, the Patriots are 1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS and have an SB number of minus-8.
Could the Patriots actually lose three straight games and four in a row against the spread?