New England Patriots Preview
Today’s featured NFL futures article is our New England Patriots season preview. We take a look at the Patriots and the established odds for the 2018-19 season. A consistent winner, the Patriots are always at the top of league and have been since Tom Brady and Bill Belichick hit their stride over a decade ago. Can the Patriots win the AFC East again in 2018? What about the Patriots Super Bowl odds and chances? We look at all of that and more in the article below.
Patriots 2017 NFL Season
The Patriots ended the 2017-18 season in the way that no team desires. After watching hundreds of interviews, one thing has stuck with me - the emotions of the players in the NFL. So many league professionals who come out of a Super Bowl on the wrong end describe the pit in their stomach they feel when the confetti drops for the other team. It is described as the worst part of losing. Well, New England sat through the confetti as they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. It was a fantastic Super Bowl, but not a typical one for Tom Brady. 41 points allowed will send just about anyone home with the “L”, and the Patriots claimed the first loser position despite putting up 33 points of their own in the contest.
The Patriots had a long offseason to think about getting it right this year in 2018-19. The season wasn’t a failure in the slightest. The Patriots took home the AFC East again and they were very close to adding more silverware in the Super Bowl. They just didn’t get it right when it mattered and because of that the season didn’t finish in typical championship fashion.
Oddsmakers agree that the time off has helped Belichick, Brady, and company and allowed them to regroup. The Pats are the favorite to not only win the AFC East, but the Super Bowl as well by most sportsbooks. Offshore online sportsbooks and Las Vegas agree. No one has a better chance than the Patriots to win it all this year at 7 to 1.
From a betting perspective, we need to be wary of the Pats status as favorites. The Patriots entered the 2017-18 season with a similar expectation. At 12.5 total expected wins set by Vegas, the Patriots had the highest bar to cross of any team in 2017. They did the typical Patriot thing and lived up to expectations by topping the number at 13 wins before moving on to the Super Bowl.
The Patriots 13-3 record was tied for the best in the NFL with the Vikings and Eagles. The spread took a similar beating as New England opponents. Against the spread, New England was one of the very best teams in the NFL. They finished second best in the league in the regular season with an 11-5 record ATS and finished with 7 overs compared to 9 under totals.
Not as much is expected of the Patriots this season. They are set at 11.5 over/under in wins on the year with our top online sportsbook pick BetOnline, which we highly recommend checking out. They even have a special August Deposit Bonus Special going on where you can get a 100% match on your money up to $1000. Doubling your money right off the bat isn’t a terrible deal.
Will the Patriots live up to their billing this season or will the reported rifts between old geezers Tom Brady and Bill Belichick sabotage their efforts? Who knows about that second part, but let’s dive into some of the particulars around the New England Patriots for the 2018-19 NFL season.
Patriots Over 11.5 Wins
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On the field, the Patriots look strong on offense. The team returns much of the core from a group that finished 1st in total offense and 2nd in passing in 2017. They also finished 2nd in scoring offense and 10th in rushing. Their ability to hold onto games made them a special unit in 2018. Once New England had the lead last year, Brady and co. kept their offense on the field longer than anyone else with the lead. The Patriots averaged 17 minutes and 18 seconds of time on field while leading on average per game.
Brandon Cooks departs as he was traded to the Rams. That along with the loss of Danny Amendola will hurt Brady when it comes to finding reliable targets this year. He still has Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett to throw to though. Rob Gronkowski remains a force too and Sony Michel is going to be a name we’re hearing on all three downs once he gets a working knowledge of the offense.
Additions did not come without substantial loss. Perhaps the biggest loss for the Patriots is left tackle Nate Solder, who left in free agency for the Giants. That’s 16 playoff games of experience that New England will be losing off of the weak side and it won’t be replaced easily. The 30 year old had started 95 of 98 games for New England and protected Brady in all 16 games last year.
With what remains on offense comes additions. The Patriots brought in Eric Decker to complement their array of offensive weapons that includes Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, once his suspension ends. There’s a lot of sure hands there for Brady to look to.
Cordarelle Patterson is an exciting option and addition for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in the slot receiver role. The Patriots haven’t had a speed threat like him in recent memory and he will create a different look for the team. The jet sweep play could and should be hitting New England’s playbook and give them a whole new set of wrinkles for defenses to deal with.
The offensive line got help in mass, but it remains to be seen if the quality can live up to the long tenure of the Brady’s longtime left tackle. The Patriots added many potential replacements for the loss of Solder in the draft. Isaiah Wynn is the most likely candidate to protect Brady’s blind side. The stud who was drafted #23 overall out of Georgia started 15 games for Georgia in 2017 at the same position.
During the 2017 season Wynn was close to untouchable. He only allowed five pressures in stiff SEC competition all season which probably translates well to the NFL, but you never know. His statistics in college bested Mike McGlinchey and Kolton Miller who were both drafted higher than him the first round in 2018.
While Wynn is certainly promising, there is no doubting he has big shoes to fill in Solder. New England can’t expect to get the same level of experience out of a rookie and while he will make mistakes, it’s important that he not make too many given his QB is 41 years old. Brady only has a few hits left in him from 300+ pounders at his age.
While the Patriots were an impressive unit on offense, their defense left a big question mark heading into 2018. The team held opponents to just 18.5 points a game, good for #5 in the league, but they found themselves ranked #29 in total yards, #30 in passing yards against, and #20 in rushing yards against. Those totals came back to bite New England in the Super Bowl and their inability to stop the Eagles offense led to them giving up 41 points to a backup starting quarterback. The rest is history.
Stability was an issue then and it may be even more of an issue now. For starters, Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia is gone. He took a job with the Detroit Lions as their head coach and had to answer for some interesting allegations around sexual assault. He won’t be part of the Patriots scheme in 2018.
That could or couldn’t be a big deal for the Patriots, but it’s noteworthy. The Patriots decided not to hire a replacement for Patricia prior to the 2018 season. While it’s an unusual move for most teams, it’s not for the Patriots. It’s how they handled things when Dean Pees left after 2009. At that time Patricia began handling play calling as Brian Flores (technically the LB coach) will now. In 2012 Patricia eventually earned the title of Defensive Coordinator.
Belichick is no stranger to the situation, but it remains to be seen if the same quality Belichick got from Patricia comes from Flores as well.
The main task that Flores is going to have to account for is improving the defensive squad's overall agility and athleticism. That’s something that the Patriots seriously lacked in the 2017-18 season, particularly in the game against the Eagles.
The Patriots leave questions to be answered at cornerback. They drafted Keion Crossen in the 7th round and he’s probably going to be the speediest corner option they have this year. They also picked up Jason McCourty to add to their corner stash. Gilmore and McCourty are expected to start. Eric Rowe, Stephon Gilmore, and Keion Crossen will compete for the other corner slots.
The safeties in the Patriots scheme remain solid with Devin McCourty (Jason’s twin brother) and Duron Harmon remaining very consistent options. Their steadiness should help the Patriots decide whether they what type of defensive set they want to drop into.
Dont’a Hightower is the other big addition to the Patriots this offseason. He returns from an injury that held him out last year and should help the Patriots regain some pass rushing swagger that they lacked. Adrian Clayborne was brought in from Atlanta to increase their pass rushing versatility and depth. Don’t forget Derek Rivers, who missed all of the 2017 season after tearing his knee.
Patriots Special Teams
The Patriots always seem to be steady on special teams and this year is no different. Instead of the old days with Adam Vinatieri, we’ve moved onto another great and equally hard to spell placekicker in Stephen Gostkowski. Ryan Allen is one of the most solid punters in the league and New England had a top 3 special teams unit.
Patriots 2018 Schedule
The Patriots have one of the tougher schedules heading into 2018 as they face three competitive teams in the first three weeks. The Houston Texans travel to Foxborough to take on the Patriots in Week 1 and they’ll be amped up for it. Even though this is supposed to be an “easy” game on the Pats' schedule, it features the highly anticipated return of Quarterback Deshaun Watson who was setting the league on fire before he went down last year. Game 2 features the best defense in the league when the Patriots travel to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars. Game 3 sees New England travel to Detroit to face Matt Stafford and the Lions who will be lead by the familiar face previously discussed in this article. Matt Patricia would love nothing more but to deliver a statement win to begin his tenure.
The schedule gets significantly easier in the middle portion of the season. While improved, Miami, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Chicago, and Buffalo all provide the Patriots with winnable games as they head into the closing half of the season. Green Bay and Minnesota at home along with Pittsburgh on the road closes out the hard part of New England’s final 8 games.
New England Patriots Season Outlook:
Best Bet: New England Over 11.5 Wins (-110)
Ignore the off-season fodder between Brady and Belichick. If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that news means nothing to the Patriots and they flat out don’t care about it. Can you think of a team that’s been through more scrutiny in the last 10 years while still maintaining its composure? Whether it be Deflategate, Aaron Hernandez, or any other number of things, the Patriots always seem to overcome the story.
That’s because the Patriots are the story, whether you like the story or not.
If the Patriots can shore up the big loss of Nate Solder on the left side of the line, it’s easy to see them continuing their dominance over the NFL on the offensive side of the ball and in general.
While the combination of a young left tackle and an old quarterback has to be a scary one for fans, you can’t imagine a better place for a young left tackle to learn than under the tutelage of Brady and his stable offensive line mates. Something tells me New England will get this part right quietly. Whoever fills in and their level of success will be one of the untold stories in the NFL this year. It will propel New England deep into the playoffs.
If anything is concerning about the Patriots, it’s their defense. Defense is what makes us more passionate about our Jaguars pick to win the Super Bowl than it does the safer pick of the Patriots. The Patriots didn’t add the types of sexy names you would have hoped for, especially for a team that suffered that badly on defense during the big game.
New England has never drafted big name college blue chips. We can’t expect them to start now. It’s just not their way. The lack of talent and speed is concerning without a doubt. The Patriots could be just as poor defensively this year, but I’ve come to expect things that defy conventional logic from Belichick and New England.
Our bet is that New England will find gold in camp like they always do. Those of us watching on TV won’t know or recognize the names of any of the players making an impact until they’re Pro Bowlers, but they’ll still go on to make this a top 10 defense in the NFL. That’s just the way the Patriots roll. If they don’t, they’ll still be serviceable enough to win games and should be just enough for Brady to overcome.
There’s no way you should bet under 11.5 wins. You really shouldn’t fade the Patriots to lose the AFC East either unless you’re into dead cat bounces.
No, the Patriots are likely destined for the Super Bowl again. Take a look at the Patriots to win the Super Bowl at +700 at BetOnline, and the Patriots to Win the AFC at +300 from BetOnline as well. Both look to be quality options for bettors as Brady and Belichick close their careers and legacy.
Don’t forget to check out our best bet to win the Super Bowl as well as our Offensive Rookie of the Year odds piece. If you need a sportsbook, don’t forget to check out our complete online sportsbook list for USA based players.
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Thanks for reading and good luck out there!
Patriots Over 11.5 Wins
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