The New England Patriots struggled out of the gate losing 42-27 to the Kansas City Chiefs in week one as the offense struggled to adjust to life without Julian Edelman and the defense looked as soft as puppy poo. In week two, the Pats beat up on a team that is horrendous and suffered injuries to Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Rex Burkhead, Chris Hogan and even Phillip Dorsett. Even with all that, this Super Bowl futures graph still has the Patriots heavily favored to win it all on February 4th, 2018.
I’m a huge believer in Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. I think Brady is the greatest that has ever played that position and I’ve seen him make serviceable receivers out of Kenbrell Thompkins, Rache Caldwell, David Patten, etc. I’ve seen Belichick scheme and plan for injuries and win a lot of games. What I haven’t seen as much is the Patriots going deep in the playoffs without a certain amount of health.
In 2014, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski were both healthy come playoff time and combined for 30 first downs in three games. 18 of those first downs were from Edelman and that consistency to convert first downs is what the Patriots will miss this season. Gronkowski was injured last year in the Super Bowl and it was likely the reason the Patriots were held to just three points in the first half and well into the third quarter.
I’ve seen Belichick, that coaching staff, Brady and various pieces step up to make deep playoff runs, but I think relatively speaking, you’ve had a good deal of health every time you made it deep into the playoffs. As a fan, I know why I can have a blind confidence, but it shows just how down the league is when the rest of the world has caved and handed the Lombardi to the Patriots when they lost their top receiver for the season and are relying on a player (Rob Gronkowski), who has only made it fully through the playoffs twice in his career.
Are you surprised that the Patriots are still heavily favored over all other competitors according the odds data collected by Sports Betting Dime since odds became available?
Fully healthy, the Patriots would mop the floor with this league and go back to back for the second time in the Brady-Belichick era, but down significant pieces, they will now rely on guys that have been in the system a month and running backs to catch all the balls from Brady. When you consider a schedule that is also tougher than in previous seasons, I think this is a great time for the Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, or Kansas City Chiefs to make a run in the playoffs, but neither I, or the sports betting world believes that enough to predict it.