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Tom Brady's return back to New England was supposed to highlight the Buccaneers' high-powered offense but a national audience saw a vintage Patriots game instead. Brady left the field victorious over his former coach in a 19-17 slugfest that ended with a potential game-winning Pats field goal bouncing off the crossbar. Belichick was able to grind down the greatest storyline of the season and hold the best QB of all time without a touchdown pass.
The game ended far below the closing point total of 49.5, which has been a staple of Belichick's post-Brady Patriots. New England is now 4-0 to the under and Tampa Bay is 1-3 after easily surpassing all three of their previous totals to start the season.
NFL unders are now 37-26 on the season heading into tonight's Monday night matchup as the Chargers host the Raiders. The LA Chargers, like New England, is another team that has been perfect to the under this season. The odds are currently shaded to the over at -115 and -105 to the under at BetMGM.
The success of unders during the first four weeks of the year brings up an interesting question. If New England can slow down Tampa Bay, is easier for these types of teams to dictate tempo and game script against their opponent? Let's take a look at two Week 5 games that feature three teams that are a perfect 4-0 to the under this season.
Denver at Pittsburgh (O/U 40)
This is uncharted territory as an NFL total hasn't closed under 40 at BetMGM this season. Totals that closed under 42 have stayed under 75% of the time through the first four weeks. Denver was responsible for two of those in Weeks 1 and 3 and hit the under in both.
Both Denver and Pittsburgh are 4-0 to the under but for different reasons. You have to score points to hit overs, and that's where this Pittsburgh offense comes short. The Steelers are 28th in scoring and have averaged 11.3 points per game over the last three weeks. This may be the worst offense in football. Now, they are set to take on Vic Fangio's defense, which ranks second overall in EPA/Play allowed. I'm not sure the Steelers can muster up 10 points here, which makes the under the right side.
Drew Lock could bring some turnover variance which would spike scoring, but Tomlin's defense has been unable to force takeaways this season. The Steelers' secondary is solid enough to hold a depleted Denver receiving corps down. Take the Under 40.
New England at Houston (O/U 39.5)
Bill Belichick versus Davis Mills. That is enough explanation for why this is the lowest total on the board. The Patriots are 4-0 and Houston is 2-0 to the under since Mills took over as the starter. The Texans have scored a total of nine points in those two starts. It's hard to imagine things get any better against one of the best defensive minds in NFL history.
Auto-bet the under? Not so fast. While I don't expect the Texans to hang 20 on the Patriots, I think Mills' struggles will have Houston focusing more on the run game against New England's 28th-ranked rush defense. This is a pretty big letdown spot for New England, and I think that formula could bring some success. If we can count on 13 points from the Texans, that should be enough.
The Patriots could carry this over the total and use this week as an opportunity to open things up for Mac Jones. New England entered this weekend second overall in pace of play when leading by 7+ points, which is the most likely game script. This is one week where Belichick doesn't have to grind out a win versus a superior roster. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will open up the playbook to get his offense into form in preparation for its next big challenge against the Cowboys in Week 6. I will take the over as 39 is too low even for Belichick.
Stats provided by Football outsiders and rbsdm.com