Patriots

What experts are predicting for Sunday’s Patriots-Lions game

The Patriots are slight favorites at home as Bailey Zappe will likely start Sunday's game.

Patriots offensive line coach and play-caller Matt Patricia will go against the team he coached for three seasons for the first time on Sunday. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

This is supposed to be the easy stretch?

That determination of the schedule has to be considered relative to where the New England Patriots are concerned. When you consider that the team, already on its third-string quarterback, hasn’t beaten anybody except Mitch Trubisky, the upcoming ease of the schedule comes with some trepidation.

Still, here come the Lions, Browns, Bears, Jets, and Colts before heading into the Week 10 bye week. Those teams so far are a combined 9-11-1. The combined win-loss record of the teams the Patriots have already faced in 2022 is 9-7; not exactly like taking remedial math after an intense month of trying to solve the Riemann Hypothesis.

Besides, what comes easy for these Patriots anyway? Sure, the offensive game plan seemed to settle down somewhat Sunday in Green Bay, but how much of that was a benefit of the fact that Matt Patricia and Co. dumbed down the playbook for rookie Bailey Zappe? It probably wouldn’t surprise anyone to see the Patriots limit the kid to the level of Mac Jones in Buffalo last season, when the Patriots ran the ball with determined consistency in the wind tunnel that was Ralph Wilson’s stadium.

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It might be foolhardy to believe that this upcoming stretch is, somehow, going to magically save their season. The Patriots are in last place in the AFC East. It might become a familiar spot.

This week’s predictions:

Detroit News staff: Everyone likes the Lions (+3).

Globe staff: Everyone likes the Patriots (-3).

Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub: Patriots (-3). “Murray has been on the Lions all year, so it should come as no surprise that he’s the outlier again. What is even more surprising, perhaps, is that Felger and I are both picking the Patriots for a second consecutive week, which might be a first in the 13-year history of the Felger & Mazz program. I’d like to mock Murray here, but he feels like I pick on him too much. So I’m going to wait for a better chance to rip him a new one.”

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 24, Lions 20. “The Lions are scoring a ton, but they can’t stop anybody. They might get a break if they face Bailey Zappe at quarterback for the Patriots. But the way the Lions are playing, it won’t matter. The Patriots will still move the football. New England will win a close one.”

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CBS Sports staff: Five out of seven pick the Pats (-3).

Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Lions 31, Patriots 30. “It seems incongruous that the league’s highest-scoring team has a 1-3 record. But so it is with the Lions, who are averaging 35 points and 436.8 yards offense per game. They score 45 points and still lose to a team averaging 15.5 points per game? Now, can they end their 0-10-1 road streak?”

ESPN staff: Split

Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: Patriots (-3). “Do you believe in the power of Pat Patriot? I do. And the man is back in a big way this week, as the Patriots go full throwback for this game. It won’t be an easy win, but there’s no way they can look that good and lose to the Lions. Analytics show that to be the case.”

Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Lions (+3). “The Lions have the No. 1 offense in the NFL, both in terms of yards and points. Unfortunately, they’re also the No. 32 defense in both categories. They can’t close out games, but at least they’re fun to watch? I do like their chances against a bad Patri*ts team that will now be led by rookie Bailey Zappe.”

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USA Today staff: Four of six pick the Pats (-3.5).

Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: Lions (+3). “What happens when a Bailey Zappe-led offense faces the worst defense in the NFL? We’re about to find out. The Patriots’ playcalling got too conservative last week with Zappe in the game, and that’s understandable. I can see that being the approach this week too. The Lions can score, there should be no doubt about that. I don’t know how much New England can score with this offense.”

MMQB staff: Four of five go with Detroit.

Sheil Kapadia, The Ringer: Lions (+3.5). “This is a tough game. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Bill Belichick put together a game plan that flusters Jared Goff (after all, he’s done it before). But given New England’s uncertainty at quarterback, combined with what the Lions have shown offensively so far this season, I’ll ride with Detroit.”

Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News: Patriots 30, Lions 20 (Iyer’s ‘Lock of the Week’): “The Patriots’ offense will keep things simple against a Lions’ defense that can’t stop anything, regardless of who starts at quarterback. Expect a heavy dose of Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson at home and for Bill Belichick to have some coverage and pressure tricks in store to cool off Jared Goff. Matt Patricia wants this one badly against the team he used to coach and expect his team to have the smarter, more physical game plan.”

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Bill Bender, The Sporting News: Lions 30, Patriots 26. “The Patriots have quarterback issues, and it’s possible Bailey Zappe could get his first start against the Lions, who have the top-scoring offense and worst-scoring defense in the league. Only in Detroit, right? It’s difficult to trust the Lions as an underdog, and if it’s close you’re trusting Dan Campbell over Bill Belichick. The Lions break through in a close game.”

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 34, Lions 20. “Bill Belichick will be able to slow down the Detroit offense, and the Patriots will have enough offense to outscore the Lions — especially with former Detroit coach Matt Patricia anxious to get a crack at his old team.”

Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 38, Lions 31. “We don’t know who’s playing quarterback for the Patriots, but any offense should score a lot of points against the terrible Lions defense.”

FiveThirtyEight: Patriots, 55 percent (-1.5).

Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Lions 27, Patriots 24. “Bill Belichick could have stolen the game in Green Bay if the Patriots stuck with the running game late, a mistake they are unlikely to make against a soft, undisciplined Lions defense. If Bailey Zappe starts, I don’t like the Pats’ chances. If Mac Jones or Brian Hoyer make a surprise return, they would be my pick. Also, Detroit’s skill-position injuries make this tough to pick early in the week, so check back for a potential update.”

NFL Pickwatch: Fifty-three percent Lions (+140).

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It says here: Lions 33, Patriots 17. As bad as the Lions’ defense might be, it hasn’t gotten a taste of the futile Patriots offense yet.

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