The New England Patriots suffered a big loss when quarterback Tom Brady accepted his four-game suspension to start the this season caused by the Deflategate controversy. Even although team’s star quarterback is likely to be out, the Patriots are expected to remain afloat for the first quarter of the season. Once Brady returns, New England should yet again ascend to one of the finest teams in the NFL and challenge for the Super Bowl crown. With a team talented on both sides of the ball, it’s easy to understand why the Patriots are heavy -500 favorites to really make the playoffs. Those that think the suspension could affect that shot can get paid out at +350 if the Patriots miss out the postseason.
The Patriots went 12-4 a season ago despite getting racked by injuries and managed to get to the AFC Championship game. The Denver pass rush was too hot to deal with and New England fell for the reason that game with a score of 20-18. Even though, the numbers for the growing season were impressive. The Patriots averaged 29.1 points on the year despite missing key offensive skill players like Julian Edelman and Dion Lewis for big chunks of the year. Brady finished throwing for 4,770 yards with 36 touchdowns against only seven interceptions, a standout performance even at age 38. Although Brady’s career is unquestionably coming to a detailed, he continues to put up numbers at an incredibly advanced, and few are expected any kind of dropoff this season. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is back as his main weapon after catching 72 passes for 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns a year ago. Edelman is another standout while Lewis hopes to be back once again to his electric self but is coming off an ACL tear. The Patriots will rely on backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the first four games, where in fact the offense would have its troubles, but if they can manage a 2-2 record it is likely to be fine once Brady returns.
While the offense gets most of the publicity, the Patriots defense was impressive a year ago. It allowed 19.7 points per game, which was 10th in the NFL. Linebacker Jamie Collins made the Pro Bowl by accumulating 89 tackles, five forced fumbles and 5.5 sacks while Malcolm Butler proved himself to be a shutdown cornerback. Chandler Jones led the team in sacks with 12.5 and added four forced fumbles, but he was traded away to the Cardinals in the offseason for guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick. The Patriots feel like Jabaal Sheard and other defensive ends have plenty of talent to adequately replace Jones, who was going to be too expensive to keep in ensuing seasons.
The Patriots have made a few big acquisitions in the offseason. They added tight end Martellus Bennett to check Gronkowksi, and defensive end Chris Long was picked as much as aid the pass rush. The Patriots didn’t need to produce a huge amount of changes following last season because the team was so good, but hope the tinkering can lead to a Super Bowl in 2016. Even without Brady for four games to begin the season, it will be a massive upset if the Patriots missed on the playoffs this season in NFL betting.