Patriots Huge Super Bowl LII Favorites

 

Right after the NFL Draft, Vegas odds makers came out with new Super Bowl LII futures. It’s no surprise that the Vegas odds makers set the New England Patriots, the defending champs, as the favorites.

Patriots Huge Super Bowl LII Favorites?

The Pats opened at 6 to 1. As of May 23, they’re 3 to 1 favorites to win back-to-back Super Bowls. Although New England should be favored to win the 2018 Super Bowl, should they be as huge favorites as they are in Sin City?

Think about it. No team has won back-to-back Super Bowls since, well, the New England Patriots in 2004 and 2005. What makes this Patriots team special? Are the low odds justified?

It Starts with Terrific Tom

No matter who else New England signs during the off-season, their chances of winning the Super Bowl comes down to Tom Brady. The greatest quarterback to ever live is now a 5-time Super Bowl champion. No quarterback has ever done what Terrific Tom has done.

Winning a single Super Bowl is huge. Now winning 2, which is what Peyton Manning pulled off in 2016, is big. Having won 4 gets you into all greatest of all time discussions. But, winning 5? That’s nuts.

Not only has Tom Brady won 5 Super Bowls, but he’s also been the Super Bowl MVP 4 times. That’s a lot of hardware for Terrific Tom. In the second half of Super Bowl LI, Brady showed why he’s the greatest QB to ever play. He led the Patriots to an improbable Lombardi Trophy win in overtime.

Sure, he got some help by then Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling. We shouldn’t kid ourselves. No other quarterback maybe in the history of football could have brought the Pats back from being down 21 to 3 at halftime, and 28 to 9 after the third quarter.

It took the greatest QB of all time to pull off the greatest comeback of all time.

But, that’s just it. It took a massive effort from Brady to pull off the win. He’s older. He’s going to take a few more hits. When is it going to happen?

By it, I mean the one thing that happens to every quarterback in the NFL. It is the depletion of skills. If it happens to Terrific Tom this season, New England could be at 30 to 1 odds to repeat as Super Bowl Champions, they still wouldn’t be a good bet.

Is RB Mike Gillislee better than RB LeGarrette Blount?

The Patriots signed RB Mike Gillislee to replace RB LeGarrette Blount. Although they told LeGarrette they wanted him back, the important cog in New England’s offense decided to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles.

On the surface, the signing makes sense. Gillislee was close to unstoppable when LeSean McCoy was injured in Buffalo last season. He averaged an incredible 5.7 yards per carry when rushing for 577 yards on 101 carries. Gillislee found the end zone 9 times last season, once as a receiver, and 8 times as a rusher.

Those number imply that Gillislee becomes one of the best running backs in the NFL in 2017. But, there’s a word of caution that comes with signing a player like Mike Gillislee.

First, Gillislee has never been a workhorse RB. Now, maybe the Patriots don’t expect him to be, but there’s no doubt he must do more in a Patriots’ uniform than he did in a Bills’ uniform.

Second, Gillislee played behind the best rushing offensive line, based on stats, in the NFL. The Bills rushed for 164.4 yards per game. New England’s offensive line is decent. It’s not nearly as capable at opening holes as the Bills’ O-line.

Finally, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel runs some of the most complicated plays in the NFL. No doubt Gillislee gets it. The question is when does he get it?

Running backs for New England don’t often just carry the football. They also must know how to block as well as how to catch the football out of the backfield.

Blount was so great because the longer the game went, the stronger he ran. He could wear down a defense with his size and speed. Gillislee is more of a cutback RB. McDaniel and Belichick didn’t mind if LeGarrette didn’t catch the football he was the ultimate change of pace running back.

If Gillislee doesn’t find the tremendous holes he saw in Buffalo while running the football for New England, he’s going to have be more James White than LeGarrette Blount. That’s not a sure thing.

How is WR Brandin Cooks going to affect the Patriots’ offense?

It’s hard to argue against this move. Brandin Cooks is the best pure wide-out Tom Brady’s going to throw too since he tossed TDs to Randy Moss. Cooks, more than any other addition the Patriots made during this off-season, projects to help New England.

Cooks played with Drew Brees. He knows how hall-of-fame quarterbacks think. What’s really exciting about Cooks in New England is his ability to spread defenses. He’s very different than Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, and Julian Edelman. He doesn’t catch the football on the run and then try to get to the end zone.

Cooks can beat cornerbacks one on one with his speed and body control. He’s undersized, but his hands are fantastic. He’s one of those WRs that sweats natural stick’em. is this a factor for the Patriots huge Super Bowl LII favorites odds?

That might be the problem. Cooks is only good on a team that can air it out. I see a few issues with Cooks on the Patriots.
Is Tom Brady capable of slinging a 50-yard, on point, pass to Cooks ala Drew Brees? Brees’s accuracy is legendary. Terrific Tom’s is as well. But, nobody can argue that throwing the football 15 or even 20 yards down field across the middle is the same as launching it 50-yards down the sideline. It’s a different process for Brady. One he hasn’t had to really do for close to a decade.

I’m also not sure how Cooks performs outdoors. We must remember that before the Saints drafted Cooks, he played at Oregon. He’s not use to the snow, or even the harsh cold. Like all athletes going from a warm weather team to a cold weather team, Cooks must adjust.

Will the Pats’ defense be as great?

Last season, New England had the best bend but don’t break defense in the NFL. The Pats allowed a low 15.6 points per game. It was one of the reasons why I picked them to win the Super Bowl over Atlanta.

Although the total is fantastic, and speaks to New England’s defense being strong, it’s not the entire picture. The Patriots D not only got to play the New York Jets twice, but it also played against Cleveland’s offense, the L.A. Rams offense, and against Houston’s offense with Brock Osweiler at QB.

Oh, yes. Both Denver, with Trevor Siemian at QB, and San Francisco with Blaine Gabbert at QB, were on New England’s schedule last season. Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor is an okay QB, but he’s not great. Neither is Ryan Tannehill, the signal-caller at Miami.

In fact, New England’s defense battled only two great quarterbacks last season, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, and Seattle’s Russell Wilson. Russell and the Seahawks beat the Patriots 31 to 24 in New England.

I’m not saying New England’s defense is bad. I’m just saying it’s going to have trouble holding opponents to such a low per game average this season. Unlike 2016, the Patriots’ defense faces the NFC South and their bevy of strong quarterbacks: Drew Brees in New Orleans, Matt Ryan in Atlanta, Cam Newton in Carolina, and Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay. Ryan, Brees, and Newton might all be in the Top 5 when it comes to the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

Not only that, but New England faces the great Phillip Rivers, The Los Angeles Chargers’ underrated gunslinger. Rivers can beat any defense if he doesn’t have to play lying on his back.

Bottom Line: Fair Odds on the New England Patriots

It’s obvious that I don’t believe 3 to 1 are fair odds on the New England Patriots. I think that with Buffalo and Miami both improving, and the Jets not being nearly as bad in 2017 as they were in 2016, the Patriots lose 2 out of 6 in the AFC East Division.

I also believe that they lose at least 2 games versus the NFC South. They’re at New Orleans and at Tampa Bay. They could lose both of those. Carolina’s 2016 was an anomaly. The Panthers should be right back near the top of the NFC this season. But, if the Pats only lose to New Orleans and Tampa Bay, were up to 4 losses.

The Patriots should lose to one of the following teams: Kansas City, Houston, L.A. Chargers, Denver on the road, or Pittsburgh on the road.

What it means is that New England’s best-case scenario record this season is 11 and 5. They might even go 10 and 6. The Patriots’ schedule is that tough.

An 11 and 5 or 10 and 6 team won’t likely garner homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Not in the AFC where Oakland, Houston, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh figure to come out guns blazing.

Because of what I wrote above, and the Pats tough schedule, I believe their fair odds to win Super Bowl LII are 7 to 1, which makes them a point favorite over Dallas at 8 to 1. I don’t believe the Patriots huge Super Bowl LII favorites odds, and no one should back the Patriots to win the 2018 Super Bowl until the odds float to 7 to 1.