For nearly 20 years, it has been death, taxes and Bill Belichick and Tom Brady owning the NFL.
From 2001 to 2019, the dynamic duo went an astounding 219-64 (.774) in the regular season and 30-11 (.732) in the postseason, both of which are the highest win percentages in NFL history. Belichick and Brady won six Super Bowls, nine AFC Championships and an absurd 17 AFC East titles over the past two decades.
But all good things must come to an end. The dynasty came to a crashing halt on March 20 when Brady left the Patriots to sign a two-year, $50 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Just like that, the GOAT was gone.
For years, a hot topic of conversation among sports talking heads has been “Belichick or Brady?” Who has been more important to the success of the Patriots?
We’re about to finally find out.
It was a tale of two halves for the Pats last season. New England started the campaign 8-0 and looked poised for another Super Bowl run. But the Pats faded in the second half, going 4-4 down the stretch to finish 12-4. They then lost to the Titans 20-13 at home in the wild-card round, with Brady’s final pass as a Patriot going as a pick-six for Tennesee.
This offseason has been a tumultuous one for New England. Aside from losing the greatest player in franchise history, the Pats also lost several key contributors via free agency, including starting linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins and defensive lineman Danny Shelton.
New England kept two key starters by re-signing safety and longtime captain Devin McCourty and franchising stud guard Joe Thuney. In terms of reinforcements, the Pats brought back quarterback Brian Hoyer and signed several low-level free agents including former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Damiere Byrd and former Los Angeles Chargers safety Adrian Phillips. The Patriots’ biggest additions came in the draft, where they made five picks in the first three rounds: safety Kyle Dugger (Lenoir-Rhyne), linebackers Josh Uche (Michigan) and Anfernee Jennings (Alabama) and tight ends Devin Asiasi (UCLA) and Dalton Keene (Virginia Tech).
The Patriots are the most polarizing team going into 2020. Some expect them to fall flat on their face without Brady. Others believe Belichick will keep it together with bubble gum and scotch tape like he did in 2008 when New England went 11-5 under Matt Cassel. It all depends on what you think of Brady’s likely replacement under center: Jarrett Stidham. Can the second-year pro out of Auburn play? If so, there’s hope in Foxboro. If not, it could be a long season.
What do the oddsmakers think?
The Patriots win total is currently 8.5 across the market. The juice tells a very interesting story.
At Circa Sports, the over 8.5 is -125 (under +105). At DraftKings, the over 8.5 is -130 (under +107). PointsBet is hanging over 8.5 at -120 (under +100). FanDuel is actually a half-game higher, offering 9 (over +125, under -145).
Why are oddsmakers forcing bettors to pay a hefty price on the over? Because they have liability on a 9-7 or better season in the Pats’ first post-Brady campaign.
Simply put, the market still believes in Belichick.
The Patriots will have to overcome a difficult regular-season schedule, though. Their 2020 opponents went a combined 137-118-1 (.537) last season, giving New England the No. 1 toughest schedule in the NFL.
Here is the full Pats schedule
Week 1: vs Dolphins
Week 2: at Seahawks
Week 3: vs Raiders
Week 4: at Chiefs
Week 5: vs Broncos
Week 6: Bye
Week 7: vs 49ers
Week 8: at Bills
Week 9: at Jets
Week 10: vs Ravens
Week 11: at Texans
Week 12: vs Cardinals
Week 13: at Chargers
Week 14: at Rams
Week 15: at Dolphins
Week 16: vs Bills
Week 17: vs Jets
Despite losing Brady, the Patriots still are expected to make the playoffs this season. New England is a -177 favorite to reach the postseason at DraftKings and a +144 underdog to miss the postseason.
The Pats are in a dead-heat with the Bills to win the AFC East. Buffalo is a slight +130 favorite with New England close behind at +140. The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets are both +700 longshots.
The Patriots have the fourth-best odds to win the AFC at +1200, trailing only the Kansas City Chiefs +300, Baltimore Ravens +325 and Indianapolis Colts +1100. New England is +2500 to win the Super Bowl.
In terms of player props, Julian Edelman’s over/under receiving yards is 900.5. Edelman, who just turned 34, finished with 1,117 yards in 2019.
Belichick is the favorite to win Coach of the Year at +1000.
At FanDuel, Stidham is a -330 favorite to start Game 1 of the regular season, followed by Hoyer +300 and free agent Cam Newton +850.
Josh Appelbaum writes about the betting markets for VSiN.com