Patriots Season Wins Pick: 5 Reasons for the Over
Patriots Season Wins Pick: 5 Reasons for the Over
The Patriots season began with the highest of expectations. The 2017 edition had the media asking if this was an even stronger team than those that had won Super Bowls in two of the previous three seasons. There was even talk of an undefeated season. Instead they started with a home loss to Kansas City in a game that seemed cursed before it even begin in part because of a forgettable pregame ceremony emceed by fake Patriots fan Mark Wahlberg. But despite coming out of the gate that year with a 2-2 record New England was still able to beat their season win over/under line of of 12.5. Sportsbooks have set the odds for this year and their victory bar has been set at 11. Here you will find five reasons why I believe the Patriots are worthy of your investment to hit the over on their win total again for the 2018-19 NFL season.
The Patriots have won the AFC East nine straight times and in 14 of the last 15 seasons, and the only time they didn’t win in that span was in 2008 when Tom Brady was lost for the entire season to injury in game one. New England has also gone seventeen straight seasons with a divisional record of at least 4-2 on the season, and this year 5dimes has them at -580 to win the AFC East. The large line is not only due to their winning consistency, but more so due to the fact the other three teams all have a wide variety of issues to deal with, most notably major questions at the quarterback position with the likely starting choices for each not exactly inspiring a great deal of confidence in the local fanbases (Bills-AJ McCarron, Jets-Josh McCown, Dolphins-Ryan Tannehill). None of the three are expected to hit seven wins on the season based upon their own over/under win totals, and this along with the reasons listed above translates into the Patriots being another near lock to pick up at least four wins in their six divisional games and odds more likely than not of them going 5-1.
Every facet of the New England lineup was heavily affected by injuries last season. The defense was without its best player in linebacker Dont’a Hightower and the offense was playing without wide receivers Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell along with lineman Marcus Cannon. Their special teams played without two of the best in the league in perennial all-pro Matthew Slater along with former rugby star Nate Ebner. All are expected back healthy and ready to go this season. Much like when the Patriots lost to the Colts in the 2006 AFC Championship game, one of the most frustrating parts of their recent Super Bowl defeat against the Eagles was that they seemed to be just one healthy player away from making enough of a difference to turn the tide and get the team the win, whether it had been a stronger offensive line to stop a disintegration on their final drive that led to a strip sack on Brady or another quality defender to limit the lapses in coverage that eventually led to a 41 point deluge by the Eagles.
Along with the above mentioned maladied, the Patriots roster returns a majority of their starters from last season, and has used the off-season restocking the positions that were impacted by free agency.
Offense - The biggest losses suffered for the offense were Nate Solder, Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola. The team countered the loss of Solder by not only drafting an offensive lineman, Isaiah Wynn, with their first pick but also by making a pre-draft trade for Trent Brown. He’s the latest acquisition made by the Patriots of a player who is no longer a fit for his current system and can be had for pennies on the dollar. While there is no questioning their value to the team in 2017, the losses of Lewis and Amendola were easier to make up for with New England already well rounded having capable reserves available at each position. The running game will still be the same multi-faceted attack led by James White and rounded out by Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, free agent signee Jeremy Hill and 1st round draft choice Sony Michel. Some were left wondering why the Patriots would use a first round pick on Michel considering the depth at the position, but the team was clearly enamored with the former Georgia Bulldog who will likely slide right into Lewis’ multidimensional role coming out of the backfield with his proven ability to be a dangerous threat both on the ground and through the air. The receiver group returns Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell after both missed all of last season due to injury, along with Chris Hogan, Kenny Britt, drafted Braxton Berrios and free agent signees Jordan Matthews and Cordarrelle Patterson. And despite all the over reported nonsense about Rob Gronkowski in the offseason, the best tight end in football will be back to open up the field for everyone around him. He continues to command additional attention from opposing teams.
Defense -After his controversial benching in the Super Bowl, there was little surprise when Malcolm Butler did not resign with the Patriots. Much has been made about his benching, his absence was clearly felt in their season ending loss to the Eagles, and replacing him was a top priority entering the offseason. The team did just that by taking two cornerbacks in the draft along with trading for The Brown’s Jason McCourty. Combined with the second half resurgence of Stephon Gilmore and a fully healthy Eric Rowe, should help provide some much needed stability to their defensive backfield. There is no doubt Butler will be missed, but the chip on the shoulder he played with last season after another cornerback was rewarded with the large contract he wanted certainly didn’t help his play at times, and despite the early season hiccups Gilmore does appear like he could be well worth the money New England invested him before the start of last season.
Thanks in large part to playing six games against divisional opponents who had less than stellar seasons last year, the Patriots 2018 schedule ranks as the 11th easiest in the NFL based upon prior year winning percentage with their opponents having combined to go just 124-132 last season for a total winning percentage of just .484. That is not to say they won’t be challenged along the way, as of the five other teams in the AFC that have a total win expectancy of at least 8.5 for the upcoming season, the Patriots have four on their schedule (Houston, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Kansas City). Thankfully for New England they get their three most difficult opponents (Minnesota, Green Bay and Pittsburgh) in the second half of the season, as the Patriots have played some of their best football during that time in recent history. The Pats put up a 53-11 record since 2000. They have been especially dominant against dome teams of late, having won their last 17 games in a row against teams that play indoors, and they will be hoping that success carries over to their December matchup against the Vikings. If Minnesota is able to go into Foxboro and get the victory, it would be the first time since 1995 that the Patriots lost at home in December to a dome team.
In a league designed for parity, that’s also run by a despot dictator, the Patriots have time and again bucked the system and the bumbling buffoon in charge of it by finding a way to continuously dominate the standings on a yearly basis. They gone fourteen straight regular seasons hitting the double-digit win mark and an equally impressive eight consecutive with at least twelve victories. Belichick and the Patriots have proven time and again that their system works and with all the key components back in place for 2018, there is little reason to think their streak of success will end.