How far will the New England Patriots go in year two of the Mac Jones era?
The Patriots are an extremely polarizing football team with some pundits saying they’ll be lucky to make the NFL playoffs, while another is saying Jones could be a dark horse candidate for league MVP. If the latter comes to fruition, the Pats will obviously clinch a spot in the postseason.
DraftKings Sportsbook has added to the offseason fun by adding “stage of elimination” markets for every single team in the league except the Cleveland Browns.
New England is a prohibitive favorite to be on the outside looking in at season’s end, which tells you DraftKings doesn’t expect Bill Belichick’s bunch to build off last season’s 10-7 record. That said, if you’re willing to zig while they zag, you’ll be rewarded with a nice payout if the Patriots exceed expectations.
Patriots stage of elimination props via DraftKings:
Miss the playoffs -200 ($200 wins $100)
Lose in Wild Card +300 ($100 wins $300)
Lose in Divisional Round +650
Lose in AFC Championship +1400
Lose in Super Bowl +2500
Win Super Bowl +5000 ($100 wins $5,000)
I don’t prefer to lay -200 on season-long props, so let’s skip line one and navigate the plus prices.
The Bills, Chiefs, Chargers and Ravens are the only four teams that I would consider “locks” to clinch a spot in the AFC playoff bracket. And if you want to flip out the Chargers for the Broncos, so be it. I just refuse to sit here and act like it’s a sure thing that one division will send three teams to the postseason.
That leaves the Patriots battling with the Broncos/Chargers, Bengals, Colts, Browns, Titans, Dolphins and Raiders for the final three spots. That’s a lot of chess pieces to outmaneuver, but it’s definitely not impossible. Cincinnati overachieved before blowing it in the Super Bowl, Cleveland might be — and should be — without Deshaun Watson and Tennessee is on the decline.
And sure, Miami and Las Vegas have potential, but there are plenty of question marks, too. The Dolphins could easily struggle with an erratic quarterback (Tua Tagovailoa) and rookie head coach (Mike McDaniel) and the Raiders are perceived to be the fourth-best team in an absolutely loaded AFC West.
I’m not going to go crazy and say the Patriots make the AFC Championship and beyond, but a loss in the Wild Card (+300) or Divisional Round (+650) is very realistic if things break their way.