Patriots

Sold! Vegas Only the Latest to Buy Into the New England Patriots

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Jim Davis/Globe Staff

There’s no such thing as certainty in the NFL.

Probability, now that’s a whole other matter.

In the wake of their 42-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas rewarded the New England Patriots by making them the new favorites to win the Super Bowl, with 7-to-2 odds. Of course, the 8-2 Patriots still need to face the tiny matter of making it to the playoffs first, but that’s pretty much a fait accompli at this stage.

The Patriots also find themselves atop fivethirtyeight.com’s “Elo Ratings,” based on “a relatively simple system developed by the physicist Arpad Elo to rate chess players.” New England jumped 30 points in the rankings, while the Denver Broncos, losers in St. Louis last weekend, dropped 43 points, and two spots in the rankings to No. 4.

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“The most damaging game of the Broncos’ season thus far was their most recent one, when they were upset by the St. Louis Rams,” Neil Paine writes. “Losing 22-7 despite being favored by 6.5 points, the defeat cost Denver 43 points of Elo rating, the fifth-most Elo points any team has relinquished in a single game so far this season. (If you’re curious, the Cleveland Browns’ win over the Cincinnati Bengals ranks first in that department.) It also dropped the Broncos to fourth place in the current rankings, the lowest they’ve sat since right after they were shellacked by the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl in February.”

FiveThirtyEight still has Denver at 85 percent to make the playoffs, only 55 percent to win the division, though it’s fair to note these equations were made prior to Kansas City’s 24-20 loss in Oakland Thursday night. Those numbers pale in comparison to the Patriots, who are 92 percent assured to win the AFC East (why so low?) and 98 percent to make the postseason.

When it comes to winning the Super Bowl, the Broncos are at nine percent, or one percentage point greater than the Green Bay Packers. The 9-1 Arizona Cardinals lead the NFC with a 19 percent chance to win the Lombardi Trophy.

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And, ho-hum, FiveThirtyEight gives the New England Patriots a whopping 24 percent probability to win the Super Bowl.

The Elo matchups for Week 12 have the Patriots a 79 percent favorite against the Detroit Lions this week. Then again, the Chiefs were an 83 percent favorite against the Raiders.

“The Elo ratings again had a winning record against the gambling lines last week, but as we caution in every edition of this column, don’t take these numbers to Vegas and use them to place bets,” Paine writes. “Even in a lucky year, Elo hasn’t done well enough to turn a profit after the bookies take their vigorish.”

But with Vegas and Elo behind them now, how can the Pats lose?

The picks

Our roundup of nationwide picks for Sunday’s Lions-Patriots game.

ESPN.com staff: 12 out of 13 pick the Patriots.

Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 27, Lions17. “The most contentious Game of the Week committee meeting of the season, after rancorous debate, anointed Lions-Pats in a hair’s-breadth call over Cardinals-Seahawks. It might have come down to the tiebreaker (rock-paper-scissors) had a majority not finally been swayed by this game’s clearer contrast of Detroit’s great D vs. England’s big O. Also, this is the only Week 12 duel between two of the eight NFL teams with .700-plus winning percentages. Make it a venue call. Pats are 5-0 at home and are 43-3 overall at The Razor, including 14 in a row. Plus, Lions just don’t bring enough offensive pop to outscore Tom Brady. Motown ranks 26th in scoring offense with no appreciable running game, and Matthew Stafford hasn’t had a 100-rated game since Week 4.”

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Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com: Patriots 27, Lions17. “The Lions are playing a second straight road game outside the division. And this one is a tough one against arguably the league’s best team. New England is playing great football on both sides of the ball. Detroit has the top-rated defense, but Tom Brady will carve up the secondary. Patriots keep rolling.”

CBSSports.com staff: Seven out of eight pick the Pats (New England by 7½).

Yahoo sports: All Pats.

USA Today staff: All seven pick the Patriots.

Foxsports.com staff: Unanimous Patriots.

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 30, Lions 20. “ The Patriots keep on rolling, regardless of the opponent or the location. Until they have to go to Lambeau Field.”

Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 21, Lions10. “The Patriots took over the top spot in the AFC last week, while the Lions lost an opportunity to take over the top spot in the NFC. Now New England will take another step toward home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Lions will take another step backwards.”

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 27, Lions 24. “The Lions are known for finding creative ways of missing the playoffs. The Patriots are known for always finding brilliant ways to make the playoffs. Nothing has to give here as a great home team host the shakiest of road teams. The marquee matchup seems to be Calvin Johnson vs. Darrelle Revis, but it’s really on the flip side with Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots’ wideouts posing all kind of nightmares for Detroit’s back seven.

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Look for New England to eschew the power run vs. a stout Lions front this week and come out firing all over the field with Tom Brady. In the past, Matthew Stafford would be up for such a passing duel, but there are just a few things off despite the improved talent around him, enough for Bill Belichick to exploit in the Patriots’ favor.”

David Steele, Sporting News: Lions 24, Patriots 23. “The cruelty of the schedule-makers sending the Lions to Arizona and New England back-to-back weeks, just when they were gaining momentum. Yet it may be the Patriots, supposedly unbeatable at home this time of year and getting a boost from the anonymous Jonas Gray, who need to worry. The Lions’ defense is still playing like the best in the NFL, and it won’t make things easy for Tom Brady and Co.”

Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Patriots 30, Lions 22. “Calvin Johnson vs. Darrelle Revis. The premier wide receiver in pro football was held in check (59 receiving yards) during Detroit’s loss in Arizona by Patrick Peterson. Revis Island, meanwhile, has been more like Revis Peninsula, as he can be breached by opposing passers — but not by much. And he’s still having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, allowing just 53.1 percent of throws his way to be completed and giving up only one touchdown pass.”

NFL.com staff: All Pats.

Neil Greenburg, Washington Post: Pick: Lions (New England by seven). Win probability: Patriots 64.9 percent. “The Patriots are the hottest team in the league but Detroit is no pushover: they have limited the opposition;’s passing game to just 5.9 net yards per pass, sixth best in the NFL.”

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Boston Globe staff: All Pats (New England by six).

It says here: Patriots 32, Lions 14. I like the Lions’ defense, as overrated as it may indeed be. But I like the Patriots’ offense a hell of a lot more.

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