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In Bill We Still Trust? Brady-less Patriots Still Favorites to Win the AFC East and Make the Playoffs

May 4, 2020 12:19 AM

From 2001 to 2019, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady created arguably the greatest dynasty in professional sports history. Together, the dynamic coach-quarterback duo finished with a regular-season record of 219-64 (.774) and a postseason record of 30-11 (.732), both of which are the highest win percentages in NFL history. Belichick and Brady appeared in nine Super Bowls and won six of them, along with winning an astounding 17 AFC East titles in 19 years. 

During the Patriots' historic dynasty, a common question among pundits and fans alike has been "Who's more responsible for the success: Belichick or Brady?" In the end, the right answer is likely both of them. But this season we're finally going to find out for sure. 

With Brady now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, the Patriots enter uncharted territory. For the first time in 20 years, TB12 is no longer under center in Foxborough. Belichick must find a way to win with Jarrett Stidham, not the greatest quarterback of all time. 

Are the Patriots doomed for a losing season? Or can Belichick's genius earn them double-digit wins just like in 2008 when New England went 11-5 with Matt Cassel?

While we'll have to wait until the regular season to find out, the next best thing is to consult the oddsmakers. 

The Patriots' 2020 win total is set at 9 across the market. This means if you bet the over they would need to go 10-6 or better in the regular season. If you bet the under, the Pats would need to go 8-8 or worse. 

What's interesting is the juice is -110 on both sides at virtually every single sportsbook. The juice, also know as the vig or vigorish, is the tax or commission that you must pay the sportsbook in order for them to accept your bet. Juice that is -110 is considered standard "10 cent juice," meaning you would have to risk $110 in order to win $100 betting on either side of the win total. 

Why is the -110 juice significant? Because many team win totals are juiced up to -120 or more on either the over or the under, indicating some sharp action and liability. But the Pats are right down the middle at -110, signaling even money with the books likely taking in split action on both sides. In other words, the smart money looks to be on a 9-7 season for New England.

Unfortunately for the Pats, they have the toughest schedule in the NFL this season. Their opponents went 137-118-1 last year (.537). 

Here are their 2020 opponents

at Bills

at Dolphins

at Jets

at Texans

at Chiefs

at Chargers

at Rams

at Seahawks

vs Bills

vs Dolphins

vs Jets

vs Cardinals

vs Ravens

vs Broncos

vs Raiders

vs 49ers

Despite the tough schedule and growing narrative that New England can't win without Brady, oddsmakers still like the Patriots to make the playoffs. The Pats are a -205 favorite to make the postseason at both DraftKings and FanDuel (and a + 165 underdog to miss the playoffs). Remember, thanks to the recent NFL rule change there are now 7 teams that make the playoffs each season, not 6. 

The Patriots odds to win the division aren't the same shoo-in they used to be, but New England remains the favorite to win the AFC East. The Pats are + 115 to win the division at DraftKings with the Bills in second at + 160 and the Jets and Dolphins both + 700. At FanDuel, New England is + 120 and Buffalo + 130, followed by New York + 750 and Miami + 900.

New England is + 1200 to win the AFC at DraftKings, trailing only the Chiefs (+ 280) and Ravens (+ 333). The Patriots are tied with the Seahawks at + 2200 to win the Super Bowl, trailing only the Chiefs (+ 600), Ravens (+ 700), 49ers (+ 1000), Bucs (+ 1200), Saints (+ 1400), Cowboys (+ 1800) and Eagles (+ 2000). 

It may look bleak in New England with Tom Brady now in Tampa. But the oddsmakers aren't giving up on Belichick. In fact, he's the favorite to win Coach of the Year (+ 1000 at DraftKings).

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