2017 New England Patriots Home Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
I started by NFL team-by-team road previews with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots , and that's where we will begin our home previews.
We call the Golden State Warriors a superteam in the NBA. Can we call the 2017 Patriots the same? Somehow, this club looks better on paper than last year's. Again, this is assuming Tom Brady doesn't start showing his age.
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Super Bowl champions are supposed to be hampered by the salary cap and lose good players, not gain them. But like with the Warriors, free agents are choosing to go play for less with the Patriots to chase a ring. New England shocked everyone by winning the bidding for Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore, added free-agent running backs Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee, signed Jets linebacker David Harris to a way below market deal, and re-signed top linebacker Dont'a Hightower for less than the Jets were offering. Via trade, the Pats gave Brady his top big-play threat since Randy Moss in the Saints' Brandin Cooks, replaced departed tight end Martellus Bennett with the Colts' Dwayne Allen, and took a low-risk, high-reward flier on Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy, who was unstoppable in Carolina's Super Bowl 50 loss to Denver.
OK, if you want to nitpick, the Pats added nothing in the draft because they dealt picks to get those trade guys and still had to pay a Deflategate punishment. So what? This team is all about trying to win while Brady is still an elite quarterback. I am surprised that Jimmy Garoppolo wasn't traded as he can walk next year in free agency - unless New England has the stones (and salary-cap space) to franchise tag him for 2018. Believe it or not, that's a possibility, but that would mean more than $40 million in cap space combined for Brady and Jimmy G.
New England was 6-2 at home last season, 6-2 against the spread and 4-4 "over/under." The Pats host four playoff teams from last season: Kansas City, Houston, Atlanta and Miami. I think the road schedule is a bit tougher. Overall, the Patriots have the 12th-toughest schedule in the NFL with an opponents' combined 2016 winning percentage of .527. BetOnline lists the Pats with a win total of 12.5, easily the highest in the NFL. I projected the Pats to go 5-3 on the road so they'd have to obviously go unbeaten at home to top that win total. If Brady plays every game, they could do so. I'd probably go "under" that big number, though. It's just not easy winning 13 games. So I'll say 7-1 at home. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 7 vs. Chiefs (-7, 49): The Thursday night annual Kickoff Game, which the reigning Super Bowl champion almost always wins. It has lost only twice, once on the road (long story) and once on a Wednesday. So Thursday at home, the champ is unbeaten in the Kickoff Game. Chiefs last visited Foxboro in the divisional round following the 2015 season and lost 27-20. The last time the Chiefs were the Patriots' home-opening opponent was 2008, and Brady's season ended quickly due to a torn ACL. Key trend: Pats 4-3 ATS at home vs. Chiefs (including playoffs).
Sept. 24 vs. Texans (-9): New England off a trip to New Orleans. The Pats' defense will really be bummed that Houston traded Brock Osweiler. In Week 3 of the 2016 regular season, the Pats beat the visiting Texans 27-0 and then again in the divisional round 34-16. Osweiler was inept in both games. Key trend:Pats 10-0 SU & 9-1 ATS in past 10 at home vs. AFC South.
Oct. 1 vs. Panthers (-9): Brady and fellow former NFL MVP Cam Newton nearly faced off in Super Bowl 50, but the Pats came up just short in that season's AFC title game. Lone meeting between the two QBs was a 24-20 Panthers home win in 2013. Key trend: Pats 4-2 ATS at home vs. NFC South teams.
Oct. 22 vs. Falcons (-6.5): Sunday night. Pats off a trip to the Jets the previous Sunday. Probably the most anticipated game of the year as a rematch of that amazing Patriots Super Bowl comeback in February. This will mark the first time New England will play the team it defeated in the Super Bowl during the following regular season. Key trend: I highly doubt the Patriots are home underdogs all season, but this might be the only shot; they were last a home dog vs. Denver on Nov. 2, 2014 and are 9-1 ATS in their past 10 as one.
Oct. 29 vs. Chargers ( -12.5): New England ahead of its bye, so this screams potential trap because of that and coming off the Super Bowl rematch. Although the 1 p.m. ET start hurts the Bolts. New England has won past three in the series, most recently in 2014. Key trend: Pats 10-0 SU & 7-3 ATS in past 10 as home double-digit favorites.
Nov. 26 vs. Dolphins (-9): Pats off a potentially huge game vs. Oakland in Mexico City. The Dolphins will be coming off a bye week. But New England hasn't lost at home in this series since 2008 when Brady was out. It was 31-24 in Week 2 last year behind a huge first half from Garoppolo before he left injured. Key trend: Pats 5-5 ATS in past 10 as home favorite of at least 7 points in series.
Dec. 24 vs. Bills (-11.5): This rivalry won't be as fun with Rex Ryan gone. Buffalo won at New England 16-0 in Week 3 last year when Jacoby Brissett was the Pats' starting QB. It was the first time ever that the Patriots had been shut out at Gillette Stadium. It was Buffalo's second win in its last 16 visits to Foxboro. Key trend: Pats 9-0 SU & 4-5 ATS as a double-digit home favorite in series.
Dec. 31 vs. Jets (TBA): Per usual, no Week 17 lines. Don't laugh, but this could be the game that keeps the Patriots under that 12.5-win total. Obviously the Jets are pathetic, but one could easily see the Pats having the AFC's top seed sewed up here and resting everyone of note. It's the first time since 2014 that New England closes at home. It beat the visiting Jets 41-3 in Christmas Eve last year. It was Bill Belichick's 200th win as Patriots head coach. Key trend: Pats 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 as home favorite vs. Jets.
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