Now more than ever before, all eyes are on the second-seeded New England Patriots (12-4), as NFL betting enthusiasts look to assess whether or not the team has the elements necessary to make a successive Super Bowl run. Quarterback Tom Brady is no alien to Super Bowl success, and neither is Head Coach Bill Belichick, but after the Pats finished the season with a slew of injuries that saw them win just two of their final six games, there are legitimate concerns as to the betting value they bring to the NFL odds to win Super Bowl 50.
Can Brady and Co. find their stride in the playoffs as they’ve done so often, or will their late-season struggles follow them into the postseason games? Find out, as we take a brief look at the Patriots and where they stand in regards to the odds to win the 2016 Super Bowl.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 15, 2016
Recap of New England’s Regular Betting Season
The Patriots burst out of the gates of the 2015 NFL betting lines winning ten straight wins, but a series of injuries and lack of full commitment from some players derailed their run and they finished 2-4 SU in their last six games down the stretch.
AFC Divisional Round Matchup vs. Chiefs is Winnable
Following their disappointing finish to the season, which included two losses in their last two games, the Patriots will be looking to get a statement win in their do-or-die clash against Kansas City on Saturday. Fortunately, the regular season and playoffs can be mutually exclusive, as was clearly showcased in the Wild Card Weekend that saw some hot regular-season teams cooled down by teams that were less-than stellar down the stretch. A good example is the game between the Packers and Redskins, where the high-riding Washington team was easily taken down by the skidding Green Bay unit.
That said, the Chiefs are seemingly playing just as well as they did in the regular season, if not better. To underscore their credentials, they recorded an impressive 30-0 win over the Texans. The Chiefs have been particularly solid in their O-line and D-line, a key reason they are riding on an 11-game winning streak and allowing just 11.6 PPG in that stretch.
So, although Houston doesn’t remotely compare to New England, the Patriots will need to be wary of the tricky task at hand and prepare on how to outsmart the pesky and highly-motivated Chiefs. In this regard, New England’s defense will need to come up big, while Brady and his weapons must also step up their game, something that is well within their means.
Pats Have Necessary Weapons…
To greatly help their ambitions of beating the Chiefs and going further in the playoffs, the Patriots welcome back a good number of starters, most of whom weren’t available down the stretch. Most notable of the returning starters is top wideout Julian Edelman, who will give Brady a solid and speedy deep-threat weapon to disorient K-City’s cornerbacks. Edelman led all New England wide receivers with 692 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season, making him a dependable go-to deep-threat receiving option. Along with Brady’s top target TE Rob Gronkowski, who led the team with 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns in the regular season, the Pats should be locked-and-loaded to face the Chiefs and any potential future opponents in the AFC Championship.
It also helps that the Patriots that they have the best quarterback in the conference in Brady, who led the entire league in touchdowns (36) during the regular season. Against the iffy Kansas City offense led by Alex Smith, the Patriots will be buoyed of their chances of outscoring the Chiefs.
Foxborough Means Hell to New England’s Opponents
The Patriots enjoy playing at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, a fact that is confirmed by their 7-1 SU record at home this season and a 23-2 SU record at the home stadium over the past three years. Furthermore, the Patriots have won all four of their previous Divisional Round matchups in Foxborough, having earned a first-round bye and home field advantage in all the four instances as well. This should spell doom to Chiefs, who’ve in fact not won any game there in their last five tries.
Manageable Opposition in the AFC Championship Game
If the Patriots get past Smith and the Chiefs, as is highly expected of them, they will face either an extremely banged up Pittsburgh squad led by the recuperating Ben Roethlisberger or a limited Peyton Manning/Brock Osweiler in the next round. Either of those two teams should be very friendly and manageable to the more-talented Patriots team.
Final Remarks and Betting Predictions
Despite having a good defense, the Chiefs are going to have a tough time manning the many offensive weapons at Brady’s disposal. This will make it difficult for Smith to keep up with his future Hall of Fame counterpart, Brady. With that, Brady and the Patriots should be a good betting value to claim their fifth-straight AFC Championship game appearance. After that, the fact that New England appears to be rounding into health, and the Pats have already beaten the likes of Pittsburgh and Denver this season, should be sufficient motivation for the Pats to win the AFC Championship game and make a successive Super Bowl appearance, possibly with another win over whoever claims the NFC Championship.