What NFL experts are predicting for Thursday’s Patriots-Rams game

Bill Belichick Sean McVay NFL Coaches
Sean McVay and Bill Belichick will meet again on Thursday. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

This is fun.

No, really. The weekly drama that is the Patriots during the 2020 season is much more enticing than anything we’ve seen in at least a half-decade. If last year’s pout-fest taught us anything, it was that New England was fit for change.

It has been ugly. It has been frustrating. It has been — despite the .500 record — overall, subpar.

But it’s been great.

I know that it sounds hypocritical since we normally demand greatness from a franchise annually bound for Super Bowl glory. The playoff push, however unlikely, is something of intrigue, especially for a team that has normally held its division like a birthright.


But the underdog role is just as much, if not more, fun than the one of big bully at the playground. You know, the one that eventually gave New England fans a bad name throughout the league.

This humble pie, while not really having to tase it quite yet, is something. It’s like a warning, yet one that comes with a little bit of hope, a trait that always seemed to define the region.

That was, eventually, replaced by arrogance and entitlement. But if you’re of a certain age, you remember the days when the possibility was the most enticing part of the package of being a fan.


It’s nice to have that back.

This is fun.

It’s not the same fun as celebrating Super Bowl wins. Obviously.

But sometimes it’s better. Really.

This week’s predictions:

Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 20, Rams 17. “These teams last met two Super Bowls ago in a rather stunning 13-3 New England win, and I would lean defense first and and the under play once more. Pats aren’t the team they were, post-Tom Brady, but they are surging, on a 4-1 run that has them back in the AFC playoff chase, but with scant margin of error. Rams are safer in the postseason hunt and simply not as desperate here. New England stayed in L.A. after beating Chargers 45-0 last week to mitigate the typical disadvantage road teams have playing Thursday nights. (Then again, Bill Belichick’s 10-1 streak on TNF suggests the early start isn’t much bother in any case). These are two strong defenses, but Rams have struggled this season to contain mobile quarterbacks such as Josh Allen and Kyler Murray, who serve to neutralize Aaron Donald’s impact. Now here comes Cam Newton, who has been a much bigger threat running than with his arm as his 11 rushing TDs proclaim. And you know Belichick is going to find some way to bother Jared Goff, right? Upset! (And, hey, even if it doesn’t happen outright, am loving a Pats cover plus-5).”


Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Rams 21, Patriots 17. “The Patriots stayed on the West Coast after beating the Chargers. The Rams are home after a nice road victory against the Cardinals. The Rams defense will make it tough for Cam Newton and the Pats offense, which is limited.  This will be low scoring, but the Rams will win it.”

Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: Patriots (+5.5): I can’t explain how the Patriots are .500 or how they blew out a talented Chargers team 45-0. I don’t know how they’ll hang in with a Rams team that should be much better than them. But at this point, I’ll just assume Bill Belichick will find a way to at least keep it close.”


Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: New England (+5.5). “For the third straight week, I’ll be mostly keeping my mouth shut on my picks. My downward spiral from Weeks 8-11 was so dramatic that even though I’ve stabilized, I’m still not saying a peep. I’ve lost that right and need to earn it back.”

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Rams 20, Patriots 13. “The Patriots are at their best when they can win games with the running of Cam Newton and their deep backfield, buoyed by complementary defense. The Rams can throw off that formula by winning up front and forcing Newton to pass. The Patriots are still weakest in their run defense and the Rams have gotten into a groove with their young committee to take pressure off Jared Goff.”


Bill Bender, Sporting News: Rams 24, Patriots 20. “The Patriots are back in the playoff hunt and have allowed less than 300 yards of offense in their last two games. Can that trend continue against the Rams? Jared Goff passed for 351 yards last week after being called out for too many turnovers. Los Angeles has a good defense, too.”

FiveThirtyEight: Rams, 64 percent (-4).

NFL PickWatch: One-hundred percent go with the Rams.

It says here: Rams 34, Patriots 21. Last gasp. When’s Trask available anyway?

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