SportsLine bettors list Cam Newton as the favorite -300 to be the Week 1 starter at quarterback for the New England Patriots against the visiting Miami Dolphins against rookie first-round pick Mac Jones (+300). New England opened as a 2-point favorite on William Hill Sportsbook’s NFL odds. However, the game that most Pats fans will circle first this year is Week 4 as Tom Brady (and Rob Gronkowski) returns to Foxboro for a prime-time epic.
The most dynastic race in NFL history ended last season for the Pats, thanks in large part to Brady’s departure for Tampa Bay. With a horrible quarterback game, mostly from Newton, the 2020 Patriots finished 7-9. It was the first time Bill Belichick failed to win the AFC East and missed the playoffs since 2008 and the Pats’ first loss record since 2000 – the year they drafted Brady in the sixth round. After an incredibly busy offseason, New England is offered a Over / Under win a total of 9 at William Hill Sportsbook for 2021; the SportsLine projection model took the Pats to 9.2 wins.
As New England’s offseason began with Newton re-signing for a one-year contract, which is a bit surprising given his struggles in 2020, and a trade for the former offensive tackle of the Raiders Pro Bowl Trent Brown, things went really crazy in mid-March when free agency opened. The Patriots’ guaranteed $ 159.6 million spent on free agents signed after the 2021 league year started on March 17 set an NFL record.
It was incredibly unusual for Belichick, but New England had a ton of salary cap and it was a depressed market with so many other teams squeezed against the lower salary cap.
Newton will have a MUCH better group of pass receivers this year with the additions of the tight ends Jonnu Smith (Titans) and Hunter Henry (Chargers). The Patriots have had the lowest pass production in the NFL from tight ends in the past two seasons.
In addition, receivers Nelson Agholor (Raiders) and Kendrick Bourne (49ers) have been signed. Agholor averaged 18.7 yards per catch last season in a breakout season for the Raiders. Bourne went from an undrafted free agent in 2017 to No.3 wide receiver in San Francisco in 2020 and is expected to fill the spot left by Pats fan favorite Julian Edelman, who was released as part of a move to cost reduction and then retired. Jones, meanwhile, was selected 15th overall – the fifth and final quarterback chosen in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. At least Belichick didn’t have to trade for him. .
Defensively, the Patriots added a pass assist with the former Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon, who has 34.5 sacks in his first five seasons in the NFL. The team also brought back linebacker Kyle Van Noy after a disappointing season in Miami and signed safety Jalen Mills (Eagles). Linebacker Dont’a Hightower returns after retiring from 2020. Another opt-out, safety Patrick Chung, has retired.
A few other players on both sides of the ball have been added / lost / re-signed. Arguably no team has improved more on paper this offseason than the Patriots, but that won’t matter if the quarterback’s play doesn’t improve.
The Patriots’ 2021 schedule is ranked as the 19th toughest in the league as their 17 opponents – hosting Dallas is Game 17 – were a combined 133-139-0 last season.
New England Patriots trends / William Hill sports betting odds
- 2020 results: 7-9 (7-9 ATS, 5-10-1 Over / Under)
- 2021 ranking strength: 19th (combined opponent winning percentage of 0.489)
- Total over / under victories in 2021: 9
- SportsLine projection model predicted wins: 9.2
- Odds of winning Super Bowl 56: +3000
- To win the AFC: +1500
- To win the AFC East: +375
- To make the playoffs: No -150, yes +125
- NFL MVP Odds: None
New England Patriots Schedule
Week 1 vs. Miami Dolphins: The Pats’ only loss in SU and ATS in last nine home games against Fins was 27-24 two years ago
Week 2 at New York Jets: Jets are 6-4 ATS in last 10 home games after losing 30-27 last year
Week 3 against New Orleans Saints: first meeting between the teams since the Pats’ road 36-20 victory in 2017
Week 4 against Tampa Bay Buccaneers (SNF): Tom Brady returns to Foxboro; think this can make decent TV ratings?
Week 5 at Houston Texans: Houston hosted the Pats last year and the Texans won 27-20 as 2.5 point dogs
Week 6 against Dallas Cowboys: 17th opponent added; in 2019, the Patriots beat the visiting Cowboys 13-9
Week 7 vs. New York Jets: Gang Green hasn’t won a regular season road game since 2008
Week 8 at the Los Angeles Chargers: New England’s best game of 2020 was a 45-0 blowout against the Chargers
Week 9 at Carolina Panthers: Assuming healthy Cam Newton takes on his former team for the first time
Week 10 vs. Cleveland Browns: Cleveland has dropped five trips to New England since returning to NFL
Atlanta Falcons (TNF) Week 11: New England 6-0 SU & ATS in past six series including Super Bowl return
Week 12 vs Tennessee Titans: Tom Brady’s Patriots career ended in playoff upset at home against Titans
Week 13 at Buffalo Bills (MNF): New England 7-3 ATS in last 10 at Buffalo and covered a narrow loss in 2020
Week 14 Goodbye
Week 15 at Indianapolis Colts: Indy has only covered two of last 10 home games in regular season playoffs
Week 16 against Buffalo Bills: Buffalo’s three-game slippage at Foxboro ended last year with a resounding 38-9 win
Week 17 against Jacksonville Jaguars: Pats are 4-0 (3-1 ATS) at home in the series, last welcome in 2015
Miami Dolphins Week 18: Pats only covered three of last 10 trips to South Florida
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