2018 New England Patriots Road Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
Is this the year the New England Patriots' dynasty ends? I think there is a legitimate chance the answer is "yes" and that the team's trade of Jimmy Garoppolo, made basically because Tom Brady was whining about it, is going to really start to hurt this franchise.
Yes, Brady still looks like one of the best players in the NFL as he won a third career regular-season MVP Award at age 40 (41 in August) and led the league in passing yards. He would have won a fifth Super Bowl MVP Award had he led a rally past the Philadelphia Eagles. Brady was literally unstoppable in that game, throwing for a Super Bowl-record 505 yards along with three scores and no picks. His defense just couldn't stop the Eagles offense. Of course, no Super Bowl loser has returned to the game the following season since those Buffalo Bills teams lost four straight Super Bowls.
There do appear to be some cracks within the Patriots. Brady seems pissed off for whatever reason. There have been reports that he's no longer on the same page as Bill Belichick - who probably is difficult to play for this long - and that Brady is still miffed that his personal guru/trainer/business partner Alex Guerrero isn't allowed around the team any longer. Brady hinted at retirement for a while this offseason, said he would take the "fifth" to a question on whether he feels appreciated by the team and hasn't participated in any OTAs. It's also widely speculated that Brady wants a big raise in the wake of Garoppolo landing that monster deal this offseason with his new team the 49ers. Brady has been vastly underpaid, no doubt about it, but that's part of the reason why the Patriots have been so good for so long. Having to dedicate 25 percent or whatever of a salary cap to a quarterback wrecked the Baltimore Ravens and is in the process of wrecking the Seattle Seahawks.
As for Rob Gronkowski, I took his retirement threats more seriously because he has saved his money well, had numerous injuries, likes to live life and reportedly has been offered some movie roles. I could easily see 2018 being Gronk's final season. And when will Belichick finally walk away? The Patriots now have his successor in place when offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels spurned the Indianapolis Colts and their head coaching job at the last minute. He clearly was promised something.
New England was 7-1 on the road last season, tied for the best mark in the league. The Pats were 6-2 against the spread away from home and 2-6 "over/under." They travel to four teams that made the playoffs in 2017: Jacksonville, Buffalo, Tennessee and Pittsburgh. I'd still say the home slate is much tougher with visits from the likes of Kansas City, Green Bay and Minnesota. I project the Patriots to go 5-3 on the road. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 16 at Jaguars (+2.5): Rematch of last year's AFC title game in which Jacksonville gave New England all it could handle. New England won 24-20 on a Brady-to-Danny Amendola four-yard TD pass with 2:48 left; Amendola is now with Miami. It marked the 54th time that Brady has engineered a game-winning performance to lead the Patriots to a victory from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie. Key trend: Pats are 3-0 SU (2-1 ATS) in regular-season games at Jaguars.
Sept. 23 at Lions (+4): This is New England's only dome game, and it's on Sunday night. It will be the 14th time that Belichick will square off against a former coordinator from his staff in former defensive coordinator/new Lions head coach Matt Patricia, with Belichick owning a 9-4 career record in such games. Key trend: Pats are 9-1 SU & 7-3 ATS in past 10 September road games as at least a 4-point favorite.
Oct. 21 at Bears (+5): Follows a three-game homestand for the Pats, which concludes with a Sunday night matchup vs. the Chiefs. It's New England's first visit trip to Chicago since Dec. 12, 2010, when the Patriots rolled 36-7 in a winter storm. This writer was at that game. Key trend: Pats are 6-1 ATS at NFC North teams.
Oct. 29 at Bills (+4.5): Monday game. These rivals have squared off three times in their history on a Monday night. But this will be the first in Buffalo as the Patriots hosted the Bills on MNF in 1995, 2009 and 2015. New England rolled 23-3 in Buffalo in Week 13 last year. Key trend: Pats 7-2-1 ATS in past 10 at Buffalo as at least a 4.5-point favorite.
Nov. 11 at Titans (+3.5): This is ahead of New England's bye. The game will mark the 10th time since 1990 that a head coach will face one of his former players when Belichick leads the Patriots against former New England linebacker Mike Vrabel, the new head coach of the Titans. New England opened last year's playoffs with an easy 35-14 win over the Titans in the divisional round. Key trend: Pats 8-2 ATS in past 10 ahead of bye (any location).
Nov. 25 at Jets (+8.5): Pats out of their bye. I'm presuming Sam Darnold will be the Jets' quarterback by this point in the season. The Patriots are 13-5 coming off the bye under Belichick. New England won at the Jets in Week 6 last year, 24-17. It was Brady's NFL record 187th regular-season win. Key trend: Pats 4-0 SU & 1-3 ATS as at least an 8-point road favorite in series.
Dec. 9 at Dolphins (+6): New England also visited Miami in Week 14 last year ahead of a trip to Pittsburgh and was upset 27-20. Brady was picked off twice and the Pats were amazingly held a third-down conversion, going 0-for-11. New England's 14-game road winning streak was snapped. Key trend: Pats 3-3-1 ATS as at least a 6-point road favorite in series.
Dec. 16 at Steelers (-1): Could well be the most important AFC game of the year again with the top seed on the line. New England won a thriller in Pittsburgh in Week 15 last year, 27-24, when a late Steelers TD was overturned on replay. Two players later, Duron Harmon picked off Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone. Key trend: Pats 7-3 ATS in past 10 as a road dog vs. anyone.
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