NFL Odds Preview: New England Patriots

By: David Schwab | Thursday, July 29, 2010
Laurence Maroney

Laurence Maroney rushed for 757 yards and nine touchdowns in 2009.

Despite the fact that New England went 10-6 and won the AFC East division title, 2009 has to be considered a down year given the lofty standards this team has set for itself. To make matters worse, the Patriots perfect 8-0 record at home during the regular season was ruined by a 33-14 loss to Baltimore in Foxboro in the wild-card round of the playoffs.

The 2010 season offers renewed hope that New England will return to the glory years of the early 2000’s when they won three Super Bowls in four years. NFL football odds handicapers believe this may be the case as they have listed the Patriots at 5/4 odds to win the division, 6/1 odds to win the AFC, and 12/1 odds to win it all. Only the Colts at 4/1 and the Chargers at 11/2 have better odds to represent the conference in the championship game.

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The Patriots 'over/under' on wins is currently set at 9.5. Placing a wager on them to just match last year’s record is a solid play as you know this team has its sights set on more than just 10 wins.

The biggest thing New England has going this season is the health of quarterback Tom Brady. In 2008 he went down in the first game of the NFL football betting season with a torn ACL. While he was deemed ready to go by the start of the 2009 season, he never really looked comfortable in the pocket all year.

Brady did throw for 4,398 yards and 28 TD’s but his 13 interceptions were the second highest single-season total in his career. This year he is completely healthy and ready to lead this team back to a championship.

The biggest concern the Patriots have is the health of Brady’s No. 1 target; WR Wes Welker. Welker went down at the end of the regular season with a knee injury, but is expected to be ready to go for their season opener against Cincinnati. He led the team last year with 123 receptions for 1,348. Randy Moss was second on the team with 83 receptions for 1,264 yards. For this offense to truly click on all cylinders both these players need to be on the field and in top form.

Running back Laurence Maroney led the team in rushing with 757 yards on a 194 carries; as a team, New England ranked 12th in the league in rushing offense. Still on the roster are veteran backs Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor and Kevin Faulk, but their better days are behind them putting even more pressure on the passing game.

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One area where New England has slipped a bit over the past two seasons is defense. This unit finished the 2009 season ranked 11th overall, 12th against the pass and 13th against the run. In an effort to add some much-needed youth and depth, the Patriots drafted CB Devin McCourty in the first round, DE Jermaine Cunningham in the second and LB Brandon Spikes in the third. They also re-signed LB Derrick Burgess and CB Leigh Bodden.

The first big test for the Pats will be in Week 2 when they travel to the New Meadowlands Stadium to play the New York Jets. The Jets are just a notch below the Patriots at 7/5 odds to win the division and they have Super Bowl aspirations of their own. The two teams meet again in Week 13.

The outcome of these two games could very well mean the difference between a division title and wild-card berth. With the talent level on both teams high, these games could come down to wiley old head coach Bill Belichick matching wits with Jets upstart head coach Rex Ryan. Given this scenario, I like New England’s chances to once again end up on top.

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