2009-10 New England Patriots Predictions
by Justin Johnson - 8/24/2009
2008 Figures: Overall record: 11-5. ATS: 9-7. O/U: 8-7-1
2008 Rankings: Scoring offense: 25.63 (No. 8) Scoring Defense: 19.31 (No. 8)
2008 Inside the Numbers: In 2008 the Patriots finished 11-5 SU, their second worst record in the past five seasons.
2009 Super Bowl Odds: +600
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Offense: Despite Tom Brady throwing only 11 passes in 2008 the New England offense was the No. 8 scoring team in the NFL and still in the Top 10 in most statistical categories.
After multiple surgeries Brady is back but gone is the Patriots safety net, Matt Cassel. The passing game found themselves in capable hands as Cassel threw for nearly 3,700 yards and 21 touchdowns.
While at the helm Cassel used Brady's security blanket Wes Welker for 112 receptions in 149 targeted attempts for 1,165 yards. Welker has seen his career take off since his trade from the Dolphins as he has had 112 and 111 receptions the past two years.
The WR corps has a new member this year as Joey Galloway will provide another field-stretching speedster to the outside. Galloway, another Bill Belichick veteran reclamation project, will be opposite Randy Moss, who looks to bounce back to his 2007 form after falling off from the Cassel-led season in 2008.
The running back position is an open competition entering the season. The leading candidate is Laurence Maroney, but he will see stiff competition and maybe even a full on committee with Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor, and Kevin Faulk.
Defense: Decimated by injuries, the Patriots defense was patchwork at best for most of the 2008 season yet was still one of the better statistical defenses in the league.
The front seven of the Patriots will be the strength entering the season, led by the middle-of-the-field players. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork may be the best interior defensive lineman not named Albert Haynesworth. Inside linebacker Jerod Mayo won Rookie of the Year last season and should only improve as he will be locked into a leadership role with the loss of Mike Vrabel.
The secondary will have a new look this year with New England bringing in Shawn Springs and Leigh Boldin at the cornerback position to compete with Jonathan Wilhite and rookie Darius Butler. The safety positions will be solid with Brandon Meriweather taking over the starting free safety position while James Sanders, a young thumper, will continue to grow into a leader in the secondary.
Overall, age is catching up with the Patriots. The defensive front, while very good, is getting old. Linebacker Adalius Thomas is now 32 years old and is starting to show he wasn't worth the money they paid when they got him. And leader Ted Bruschi is in what is expected to be his final season. Springs and Boldin are veteran leaders at corner but are not on young legs anymore. Any injury could expose a lack of quality depth for the Patriots and the schedule is not exactly forgiving.
2009-10 New England Patriots Predictions: The Patriots have more questions entering this season than they have in the past five years combined and they have a very tough schedule.
New England says goodbye to divisional matchups with the AFC and NFC West in 2008 and hello to the AFC and NFC South this year, which could drastically expose a potentially unhealthy Tom Brady, an aging wide receiver corps, and an unsettled running back situation. Couple that with a defense that is paper thin at several positions and breaking in new players in other key positions could make for a season not quite up to recent Patriots standards.
The Patriots have been one of the best teams SU and ATS the past three seasons and have been especially good for bettors and NFL handicappers on the road where they have gone 18-6 ATS away from Foxboro since 2006.
The division is still a two-team race and one the Patriots should win out over the Dolphins. Look for a 10-win season and a division title.
Key things to remember in the division are that the Patriots are 11-0 SU and 9-2 ATS against the Bills as well as 10-0 ATS in their last 10 at the NY Jets.
Another note is to wait for December to bet on the Patriots at home. New England has been just 10-14 ATS at home the past three years but they have been 17-2 SU and 15-4 ATS at home in their past 19 December games.
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