The New England Patriots remain at the top of the NFL, despite their loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
The Patriots were denied the chance to win back-to-back Super Bowls by the Eagles, with Bill Belichick’s men themselves remaining the last team to achieve the feat in 2005.
There has been plenty of drama surrounding the club in the off-season regarding the futures of Belichick, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. However, all three vital pieces remain with the organisation as they begin another journey towards the Super Bowl.
Malcolm Butler’s benching in the Super Bowl proved to be a decisive factor. Neither the cornerback nor Belichick revealed the reason behind the decision. He has since moved on to the Tennessee Titans, while Dion Lewis, Nate Solder and Danny Amendola have all left the club. Brandin Cooks was also traded away, leaving Brady short on offensive weapons.
As a result, the decision of Josh McDaniels to remain with Patriots instead of taking the head-coaching position with the Indianapolis Colts looks to be vital.
He will continue his special connection with Brady, although on the defensive side of the ball Matt Patricia did join the Detroit Lions. New England have not named a direct replacement, but Brian Flores will take over the duties in everything but name.
With Brady and Belichick, the Patriots are always contenders for the Super Bowl and given the lack of strength in the AFC, they could be bound for another trip in February.
The Patriots were almost perfect on offense in the Super Bowl. Once Brady and company were in a shootout with the Eagles, they marched up and down the field with ease. Unfortunately their defense was unable to generate a single stop in the second half. The pressure told on the final drive as Brandon Graham burst through the offensive line to notch the strip-sack of Brady to decide the match. Brady passed for 505 yards, while Gronkowski, Amendola and Chris Hogan were all outstanding, especially considering they lost Cooks to a concussion.
Brady proved in the game he has not lost a step and despite entering the new campaign at the age of 41, only Aaron Rodgers could perhaps claim to have superior talent at the position. The Patriots quarterback is the reigning MVP and is more than capable of producing another run to the award and the Super Bowl.
One issue that could prevent his charge is the talent around him. New England’s decision to trade Cooks and allow Amendola to leave has left them short of options in their receiving corps. Hogan remains, and although Brady’s most trusted target Julian Edelman has returned from the torn ACL that ruled him out of last season, the wideout will miss the opening four games due to suspension. Gronkowski is the best tight end on the field, but there are always injury concerns surrounding the future Hall of Famer. Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson has big shoes to fill for the 2018 season.
The running back corps will be New England’s saving grace. Lewis was allowed to leave for the Titans, but the Patriots used their first-round draft pick to acquire Sony Michel. Michel was a superstar for the Georgia Bulldogs in his college days. Should he translate his form to the NFL, the Patriots could have the man on their hand to ease the pressure on Brady. James White is the reliable commodity, while Rex Burkhead and Jeremy Hill will offer an outlet in the backfield.
The Patriots’ defense was porous in the Super Bowl. They allowed Nick Foles to put points on the board with ease. They didn’t force the Eagles to punt once during the contest, securing just one turnover off a deflection from Stephon Gilmore. Belichick was to rue keeping Butler on the sideline as his replacements Eric Rowe and Johnson Bademosi were targeted by Philadelphia. New England were even vulnerable on the ground as former player LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi tore through their defensive line.
Belichick has moved to address the issue by acquiring defensive tackle Danny Shelton from the Cleveland Browns. Malcom Brown has lived up to expectations after being selected in the 2015 Draft. Brown and Shelton are both in contract years and will be vying for the long-term deal. Trey Flowers had a solid season, but the pressure on him to provide the pass-rush wore him down over the course of the campaign. It was Flowers and little else from the Patriots last term. The signing of Adrian Clayborn will ease the burden, while Deatrich Wise could take a step forward in his second season along with the return from injury of Derek Rivers.
No return will be more important than Dont’a Hightower. Hightower missed the majority of the term after tearing his pectoral muscle in week seven. New England were not deep a linebacker and missed his playmaking ability in the Super Bowl where in the past he has made defining acts. Hightower will lead the group in 2018 with the promise of depth behind him with Kyle van Noy and promising rookie Ja’Whaun Bentley in the roles alongside the defensive captain.
The secondary lost Butler, but his place come another stash of rookies, including second-round pick Duke Dawson. Between Dawson, Keion Crossen and JC Jackson there’s young talent there to find their roles alongside the experience of Gilmore, Rowe along with safeties Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon, who have become the core of the defense.
It would be a stunning turn of events to see the Patriots miss the playoffs. They’ve missed the post-season only twice with Brady as their starter – the last of which came in the 2008 season when missed the campaign due to injury. They have the longest active playoff streak in the NFL, reaching the post-season for the last nine years. Back them to reach the post-season at odds -1800 and to win over 11 matches at -133 with 888Sport. Take the Patriots to win the AFC East at -600 with BetOnline along with finishing in first place at odds of -750 with 888Sport.
The AFC Conference will have its usual raft of contenders, but the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars are still not complete enough to knock off New England. The Houston Texans could be an interesting team, although still take the Patriots at odds of +300 and to win the Super Bowl given the unpredictability of the event at +600 with BetOnline. New England’s offense is one of the most potent in the NFL take them to lead the league in scoring at odds of +550 at BetOnline along with the NFL’s best record at +400 .
Belichick should be in the reckoning for coach of the year at +1600 with 888Sport. Brady won the MVP award last season and should be no different this term, take him at odds of +800 with BetOnline. The 41-year-old could lead the NFL in passing at +400 with TopBet and passing touchdowns at +500 with 888Sport. Michel missed the pre-season with injury, but could be a surprise pack in the campaign at odds of +2500 with BetOnline to be offensive rookie of the year.
At +1200 with 888Sport Gronkowski is great value to lead the NFL in receiving touchdowns along with over 1,060 receiving yards and over nine touchdowns at -115 and -130 with BetOnline. Also back Brady for 4,675 passing yards, over 33 touchdowns and under nine interceptions at odds of -105 , -115 and -115 with BetOnline.
New England Patriots To Reach Playoffs
New England Patriots To Win Over 11 Matches
New England Patriots To Win AFC East
New England Patriots To Finish First AFC East
New England Patriots To Win AFC Conference
New England Patriots To Win Super Bowl
New England Patriots To Have Highest Scoring Offense
New England Patriots To Have NFL’s Best Record
Bill Belichick To Win NFL Head Coach Of The Year
Tom Brady To Be Named NFL MVP
Tom Brady To Lead NFL In Passing Yards
Tom Brady To Lead NFL In Passing Touchdowns
Sony Michel To Be Named NFL Offensive Rookie Of The Year
Rob Gronkowski To Lead NFL In Touchdowns
Rob Gronkowski To Record Over 1,060 Receiving Yards
Rob Gronkowski To Record Over Nine Touchdowns
Tom Brady To Record Over 4,675 Passing Yards
Tom Brady To Record Over 33 Touchdowns
Tom Brady To Record Under Nine Interceptions