The Patriots entered at 9-win favorites in April of 2021. And while they may have lost you money in the over/under category last season, they’re looking like the Patriots once again in 2021. No, you won’t see a Tom Brady-Bill Belichick reunion, but the newer New England Patriots look like a solid consolation.
Sure, they’re better on paper, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be tested both within and outside the division, with the schedule peering over their shoulders. Expect the Patriots to once again contend in the range of their over/under, but don’t expect a full 180 just yet following last season.
Below, you will find several factors regarding betting on the New England Patriots and whether they figure to be a good futures wager for the over/under in 2021. Today’s post will look at both sides of the equation, allowing you to draw your conclusion.
State of the New England Patriots
The New England Patriots return Cam Newton at the helm at quarterback. And while he proved himself in both the run game and pass percentage, he struggled to get the ball downfield often. Enter Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, free agency’s top two tight ends. This alone gives Newton more to work with.
They also signed Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor, two underachievers who would probably fare well in New England’s system. When doesn’t this happen? They also brought back Ted Karras and Kyle Van Noy, and signed Matthew Judon from the Baltimore Ravens.
Dont’a Hightower also returns in 2021 after opting out in 2020, which along with Van Noy and Judon, have revamped the linebacking unit. Raekwon McMillan and David Godchaux also join the roster, which brings experience and an edge to the New England Patriots.
Besides Newton, the Pats’ always-diverse committee of running backs returns, along with the improving N’Keal Harry at receiver.
And of course, Bill Belichick’s presence also tells us that no matter what, the state of the New England Patriots will always be higher than lower until he hands the reins to someone else. But even then, a successor can easily copy his blueprint.
Strengths of the New England Patriots
Coaching is the obvious strength. And it’s not just Belichick. Longtime assistant Josh McDaniels once again returns, and another old face in Matt Patricia is also back in the building.
Some will lead you to believe the drafting of Mac Jones is a weakness since it could lead to a quarterback controversy with Newton. However, Jones will sit behind Newton for as long as Belichick needs him to. Remember, Jimmy Garoppolo sat before they shipped him to San Francisco.
"I couldn't be more happy with the way we're working."
McDaniels & the offense continue to improve & progress: https://t.co/9WpjVyeYu9
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) June 3, 2021
If Newton plays well, Jones will ride the bench and a quarterback quagmire will not exist—especially when Newton has Henry and Smith to throw to, along with Harry, Agholor, and Bourne.
The Patriots traditionally use a committee of running backs, and it has always served them well. Expect nothing different in 2021 with Brandon Bolden, Sony Michel, Damien Harris, and James White. These names aren’t particularly well-known, but they all play their role and do so well.
Flip to the defense, and this can easily become one of the league’s best once again in 2021. The linebacking unit has returned, and cornerback Stephon Gilmore is the league’s best. Safety Kyle Dugger and safety Devin McCourty also comprise a dangerous unit.
Weaknesses of the New England Patriots
This is not the same AFC East that we have come to know. We will talk more about this issue in the next section, but the top weakness for the New England Patriots is the fact they play in a division they dominated for two decades.
Both the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are better teams than in years’ past, and it’s no longer the guaranteed crown for the Patriots.
The Patriots have also totally revamped what was something equivalent of an expansion roster in 2020. With that said, expect a learning curve with this group learning the New England Patriots strategy, which involves in-game planning, strong attention to detail, and the “team before I” mechanism.
Looking at the roster, you will not find a single weakness since Belichick’s rosters comprise more of role players than anything else. These are role players who otherwise would not start in the NFL, but they will always have a niche for the Patriots.
It is a matter of when, as opposed to if, these new and old players will come around and embrace the system. After they embrace it, they must learn it. And it may not be this season, unless Belichick has a group of fast learners ready and willing to step up sooner than later.
In short, the team’s weaknesses are high-risk, high-reward players who will make or break their 2021 NFL season.
Schedule of the New England Patriots
Brutal schedule with a lot of potential. Just look at their uncommon opponents. Despite finishing third in the AFC East, they face the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, and Los Angeles Chargers.
Okay, so the Cowboys are just now easing Dak Prescott back into the lineup. The Browns are a one-year wonder, and the Patriots beat the Chargers 45-0 in 2020 with a far inferior team. But can you think of less desirable uncommon opponents a team can face following a third-place finish?
Then, there’s the division. You will not find a single weakness in the Buffalo Bills, and the Miami Dolphins are closing the gap, if they have not already done so. The New York Jets appear to be light years behind the Patriots.
Countdown starts now 💯 pic.twitter.com/FRXGzmDtjb
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) June 4, 2021
The Patriots must also play the NFC South, with that big showdown against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers looming. But the New Orleans Saints finished 8-1 in 2019 and 2020 in games without Drew Brees. Now that Brees is done, don’t expect the Saints to fall back to becoming the A’ints once again.
The Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers finished among the bottom of the barrel, but it’s clear the Falcons have built their team to win in 2021. The Panthers, entering Year 2 of their rebuild, have a quarterback in Sam Darnold, a lot of offensive firepower, and a revamped defense.
They also play the AFC South. We can assume wins against the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars, since one is racing to the bottom of the league’s pecking order and the other has entered Year 1 in which neither their quarterback nor their head coach have a single down of NFL experience.
Of this bunch, the Patriots should win four games, those against the Jets (twice), Texans, and Jaguars.
The games against the Browns, Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Saints, Panthers, Falcons, Bills (twice), and Dolphins (twice), remain in the air.
From the most conservative estimate, the Patriots can finish 0-3 against the uncommon opponents, 2-2 against the AFC South, 2-4 in the division, and 0-4 against the NFC South. This puts them at 4-13, and well under their over/under.
However, the Patriots are a far improved team, and they can easily flip the script against the uncommon opponents and finish 3-0, steal a game (or 2) against the AFC East, and defeat two NFC South teams (Carolina and Atlanta), along with splitting games in the AFC South.
This places the Patriots with as many as 10 to 11 wins, and above their over/under. However, this optimistic estimate will mean that the Pats not just beat teams they’re supposed to beat; but those they match evenly against.
Will the New England Patriots Become a Good Over/Under Bet?
The biggest question to the above question is this: How fast can their newest contributors catch on?
If you believe they will embrace and learn the New England Patriots strategy and way of doing things, expect something closer to 10 or 11 wins. However, if Belichick must spoon feed this revamped roster, expect something closer to as little as four wins, give perhaps two or three more, which still sets them low.
We know that, on paper, this version of the New England Patriots is far and away better than the 2020 version in just about every facet. You won’t see opt-outs, you won’t see erratic quarterback play, and you won’t see barren position groups.
But you will see a more talented football team that, if they learn to embrace the strategy sooner than later, a team that will at least reminisce on the 2001 to 2019 version of the New England Patriots.
The New England Patriots are a good football team on paper, and they still have among the best coaching staff in the NFL. However, this revamped roster will learn one of the league’s most unique systems, and it’s not a good fit for everyone.
Therefore, Belichick and his staff have a lot of work ahead of them to physically and mentally condition his players to embrace the team’s strategy. If this happens, the Patriots are a fantastic bet for the over. If not, look for the under.
What are your thoughts on the New England Patriots? Are they back to becoming a good bet for the Over in 2021, or do they need at least one more year to become a good bet? Let us know what you think in the comments.