2020 Team Betting Previews: Patriots

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2020 Team Betting Previews: Patriots

The Patriots dynasty came to an end in 2019 after a 20-year run of dominance with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick leading the way. Brady left Belichick behind for Tampa Bay this off-season, and TB12 brought along his pal Rob Gronkowski to chase a title. The Patriots brought in Cam Newton on a one-year deal to see if they can extend their AFC East title run to a 12th straight year after cashing -550 odds to win the division last year. New England also cashed -1100 odds to make the playoffs, but it failed to defend its Super Bowl title last year with an ugly 17-10 loss to the Titans in the Wild Card Round.

New England finished with a 12-5 overall record and an 8-8-1 against-the-spread mark, which was a disappointment after it started the season with a perfect 8-0 record. The Patriots got off to a hot start thanks to their dominant defense, which led to a 10-7 record toward under totals. They allowed the fewest points per game (14.4) while scoring the seventh-most PPG (25.5). Stephon Gilmore led this defense and he won the Defensive Player of the Year award at +8000 odds, making him the first cornerback to win the award since Green Bay’s Charles Woodson did it in 2009. The Patriots finished with an even 4-4 record in one-score games and a dominant 6-1 mark in games decided by three scores or more.

New England’s 2020 win total (8.5) plummeted by two and a half victories from last season after Brady and a couple of other big names bolted this off-season. The Patriots surpassed their 2019 win total with their 12th victory of the season over the Bills in Week 16. New England has -177 odds to reach the playoffs for the first time without Brady since Drew Bledsoe and Pete Carroll led the Patriots to the 1998 playoffs. Entering the season, I have the Patriots power rated as the 17th-best team in the NFL (+1800 to win Super Bowl LV), as the eighth-best team in the AFC (+1100 to win the conference), and as the second-best team in the AFC East (+130).

2020 Schedule

WeekOpponent (spread if available)Time
1Miami Dolphins (-6.5)1
2@Seattle Seahawks (+3.5)8:20 (Sun)
3Las Vegas Raiders1
4@Kansas City Chiefs4:25
5Denver Broncos1
6BYEBYE
7San Francisco 49ers4:25
8@Buffalo Bills1
9@New York Jets8:15 (Mon)
10Baltimore Ravens8:20 (Sun)
11@Houston Texans1
12Arizona Cardinals1
13@Los Angeles Chargers4:25
14@Los Angeles Rams8:20 (Thurs)
15@Miami Dolphins1
16Buffalo Bills8:15 (Mon)
17New York Jets1

Key Off-season Moves

Additions

Kyle Dugger (S)

Josh Uche (LB)

Devin Asiasi (TE)

Brian Hoyer (QB)

Damiere Byrd (WR)

Adrian Phillips (S)

Brandon Copeland (LB)

Marqise Lee (WR)

Anfernee Jennings (LB)

Dan Vitale (FB)

Departures

Tom Brady (QB, TB)

Kyle Van Noy (LB, Mia)

Jamie Collins (LB, Det)

Duron Harmon (S, Det)

Danny Shelton (DT, Det)

Elandon Roberts (LB, Mia)

Phillip Dorsett (WR, Sea)

Ben Watson (TE, FA)

Ted Karras (C, Mia)

Stephen Gostkowski (K, FA)

Opt-out

Marcus Cannon (RT)

Dont’a Hightower (LB)

Patrick Chung (S)

Matt LaCosse (TE)

Danny Vitale (FB)

Marqise Lee (WR)

Brandon Bolden (RB)

2020 Season Odds

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Team FuturesOdds
Season Win Total (O/U)8.5 (-143/+118)
AFC East+130
Playoffs (Y/N)-177/+144
AFC Championship+1100
Super Bowl+1800

Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total

The Patriots lost Tom Brady and his NFL-record six Super Bowl titles this off-season, but his coach Bill Belichick is still in the fold and good luck fading teams coached by The Hoody. Belichick owns a ridiculous 61.2% winning percentage against the spread since 2003, which works out to a 161-102-9 ATS record over the last 17 seasons (per Sports Insights). Belichick has built a culture of winning in New England, and it’s tough to see the Patriots bottoming out based on Brady’s departure alone.

New England didn’t do too bad finding a potentially high-level replacement for Brady at quarterback by signing Cam Newton for just more than $1 million this season. It’s yet to be seen what Newton has left in the tank after two throwing-shoulder surgeries and a Lisfranc injury in recent years, but he had one of his best seasons the last time he was healthy back in 2018. He completed by far a career-high 67.9% of his passes and he averaged 7.2 YPA, which was his best mark since he averaged 7.8 YPA during his MVP season in 2015. The Patriots figure to be more ground-game oriented with Cam at quarterback, which could work well since the Patriots’ biggest strengths are on defense and along their O-line.

New England took some roster blows with a league-high eight players opting out, but it still projects to have one of the league’s better defenses and offensive lines. RT Marcus Cannon decided to opt-out as a cancer survivor, but New England has better O-line depth than most teams with some intriguing young players in the fold. The Patriots defense was off to a historically strong start against an easy schedule last season, and they’re still one of the best defenses in the league, especially in their secondary led by 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore.

The Patriots are used to getting one of the easiest schedules in the league every year thanks to playing in the AFC East, but they actually drew the ninth-toughest schedule in the league and the second-toughest slate in the AFC East (per Sharp Football). The only easier matchups on their schedule this season are their four matchups against the Dolphins and the Jets.

New England drew a favorable spot against the 49ers in Week 7 as the Patriots will be coming off their bye week while the 49ers will be coming cross country after hosting the Rams on Sunday Night Football. The Patriots and the rest of the AFC East drew the NFC’s toughest division in the NFC West, as well as the AFC West, the Ravens, and the Texans in their extra AFC contests.

Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total

The Patriots will be without Tom Brady for the first time in 20 years after he bolted for Tampa following the Patriots’ flameout from the playoffs in 2020. Tampa’s season win total skyrocketed from seven and a half wins before Brady’s signing to nine and a half wins after Brady’s signing. Meanwhile, New England’s win total plummeted one to two victories down from 10.5 wins after Brady left, depending on the book.

A big reason why Brady departed in free agency was because of the sorry state of skill players in New England as he left for greener pastures in Tampa with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. New England’s best weapons are a 34-year-old slot WR in Julian Edelman and a passing-back in James White. The Patriots will likely be transitioning to more of a run-heavy attack with Cam Newton at quarterback, but their running back stable leaves a lot to be desired between Sony Michel, Lamar Miller, Rex Burkhead, and Damien Harris. The Patriots have had one of the best O-lines in recent seasons, but their depth will be tested this season with RT Marcus Cannon opting out, especially with legendary OL coach Dante Scarnecchia once again retiring this off-season. The Patriots are also scrambling at fullback once again after James Develin opted out.

The Patriots were hit by far the hardest by the voluntary opt-outs, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Dont’a Hightower is the biggest loss on defense as the Patriots lost four of their top five linebackers from last season — Hightower, Kyle Van Noy (Dolphins), Jamie Collins (Lions), and Elandon Roberts (Dolphins). Patrick Chung’s loss won’t hurt nearly as much as Hightower’s departure since the Patriots signed Adrian Phillips and drafted Kyle Dugger this off-season.

The NFL certainly isn’t hiding the Patriots without Brady as they have the Patriots scheduled for five primetime contests. The Patriots have an absolute gauntlet in Weeks 8-15 with a whopping six road games in an eight-week span, which will end with three road games in a row (@LAC, @LAR, @Mia). They also have road trips to Seattle in Week 2 for Sunday Night Football and to Kansas City in Week 4. The Patriots do get a home game against the Ravens in Week 10, but they’ll be playing on short rest after a Monday Night game.

Notable Player Props

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Cam Newton: passing yards (2950.5), passing TDs (19.5), most passing yards (+5000), MVP (+3000)

Fantasy Points Projection: passing yards (3325), passing TDs (21)

  • Best-case Scenario: Newton is healthy and revitalized in a Patriots uniform, and he turns back the clock to 2018 when he was playing some of the best football of his career.

  • Worst-case Scenario: Newton continues to struggle with his health and his sporadic accuracy returns — 2018 was the only season in his career that he completed 62.0% of his passes or better.

Julian Edelman: receiving yards (850.5), most receiving yards (+6600)

Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (835)

  • Best-case Scenario: Edelman quickly develops a bond with Cam Newton, and he retains his role as the chain-mover in this passing attack.
  • Worst-case Scenario: Edelman and Brady had the best WR-QB chemistry in the league, and his production dramatically falls off with his new quarterbacks.

Best Bets and Leans

The Patriots may be without Tom Brady for the first time in 20 years, but Bill Belichick is still running the franchise and fading the Patriots has been a money-losing decision during his tenure. The Patriots set an NFL record with their 17th straight season with 10 or more victories last season, besting the 49ers’ previous record of 16 seasons with 10+ victories from 1983-1998. The Patriots also own a 61.2% ATS winning percentage in that same 17-year span. And yet here I am betting that the Patriots won’t reach 10 wins this season as I’m wagering on the Patriots to finish under nine a half wins. Be sure to shop around on New England’s win total as I’ve seen it as low as eight and a half victories and as high as nine and a half wins. I wouldn’t wager against the Patriots at any number shorter than nine and a half wins.

The Patriots are used to playing one of the league’s easiest schedules every season but that won’t be the case in their first year without Brady since 1999. New England could get out of the gates slowly as it breaks in a new quarterback into a new-look offense. They’ll need to be sitting above .500 before they head into an absolutely brutal stretch of games in Weeks 8-15 in which they have six road games in an eight-week span, which includes a three-game roadtrip to end that stretch.

I obviously have to take into account New England’s dominance under Belichick, but the Patriots are in unprecedented territory without Brady heading into this season. Belichick will be out to prove that the team is bigger than one player, but the problem is the Patriots lost more than Brady this off-season. They’ve had more personnel turnover than usual with several key players leaving in free agency and additional important players decided to opt-out. I may look back on this season and wonder what I was thinking about betting against the Patriots in 2020. However, I believe there’s a much better chance that people are going to look back on this season and wonder how they didn’t see the Patriots falling off a small cliff in 2020.

Best Bets: New England Patriots under nine and a half wins (-125, BetMGM). Risk one unit to win .8 units.

Leans: None of note.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.

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