It was close but no cigar for the New England Patriots in 2017. After a sluggish start, the Patriots won 11 of their last 12 regular season games to capture yet another AFC East division crown. New England then survived a tough AFC Championship Game with the Jaguars to advance to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, as they fell to the Eagles 41-33.
Of course, losing in a Super Bowl is only going to make the tandem of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady even more motivated this season. However, amidst the Super Bowl loss were reports of a growing rift between the powers that be in New England. Nevertheless, Brady and Belichick are back for the 2018 campaign, which is enough to make New England one of the favorites to win Super Bowl 53.
Not surprisingly, oddsmakers have given the Patriots the best Super Bowl odds at +675. It goes without saying that nothing is guaranteed. But in recent years, the Patriots are the closest thing to a safe Super Bowl bet. However, oddsmakers are only projecting 11.5 wins. The over has a better pay off than the under, so unless you see a drastic drop off coming, the over on wins could be a good bet.
After all, we’ve yet to see the kind of drop off in Brady’s performance one might expect from a player of his age. He’ll also have his two most important playmakers back in Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Of course, Gronkowski is notoriously injury prone while Edelman will be suspended the first four games of the season.
Also, outside of the Brady, Gronkowski, Edelman trio, the New England offense will be reliant on some new pieces. Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett will be asked to fill the void left by the speedy Brandin Cooks, who was traded over the offseason. Running back Dion Lewis is also elsewhere, leaving rookie Sony Michel to take the reigns alongside James White. The Patriots also lost Nate Solder in free agency, so there could be some work to do on the offensive line.
Defensively, the Patriots allowed the fifth-fewest points in the NFL during the regular season, only to falter in the Super Bowl. The Patriots will get Dont’a Hightower back from injury and added Jason McCourty to help replace Malcolm Butler in the secondary. They also invested in defense during the late rounds of the draft in hopes of adding more speed and athleticism. Of course, longtime coordinator Matt Patricia is now coaching the Lions, so there could be some adjustments made on that side of the ball.
To be honest, there are quite a few questions facing the Patriots heading into the season. It’s a few questions more than usual, especially for a Super Bowl favorite. But as long as Brady and Belichick are running the show, they are as good a bet as any team in the NFL of reaching the Super Bowl. After all, they started last year 2-2, looking a little vulnerable, before kicking it into gear. Until the Patriots have a truly poor season, one must assume they will be contenders.
|Sep 9||Houston Texans||1:00 PM|
|Sep 16||@ Jacksonville Jaguars||4:25 PM|
|Sep 23||@ Detroit Lions||8:20 PM|
|Sep 30||Miami Dolphins||1:00 PM|
|Oct 4||Indianapolis Colts||8:20 PM|
|Oct 14||Kansas City Chiefs||8:20 PM|
|Oct 21||@ Chicago Bears||1:00 PM|
|Oct 29||@ Buffalo Bills||8:15 PM|
|Nov 4||Green Bay Packers||8:20 PM|
|Nov 11||@ Tennessee Titans||1:00 PM|
|Nov 25||@ New York Jets||1:00 PM|
|Dec 2||Minnesota Vikings||4:25 PM|
|Dec 9||@ Miami Dolphins||1:00 PM|
|Dec 16||@ Pittsburgh Steelers||4:25 PM|
|Dec 23||Buffalo Bills||1:00 PM|
|Dec 30||New York Jets||1:00 PM|
As long as the Patriots play in the AFC East, they will have a manageable schedule. That division still doesn’t have a bonafide challenger. That being said, road games against the Jaguars in Week 2, Lions in Week 3, Titans in Week 10, and Steelers in Week 15 are all games where the Pats could falter. A Monday night in Buffalo in Week 8 won’t be easy either. The Texans, Colts, Packers, and Vikings will also make trips to Foxboro, so there are a few potential losses scattered about the schedule.
All things considered, the Patriots look geared up for another 12-4 campaign. They may not be the dominant team they’ve been in the past, but they are still the best team in the AFC. As long as Brady and Belichick are in New England, it’s tough to bet against the Patriots.