The New England Patriots have arguably the greatest head coach in NFL history and are still expected to have a solid defense this season, but Las Vegas oddsmakers view them as a fringe playoff team without Tom Brady.
Caesars Sportsbook released NFL win totals for the 2020 season on Thursday, and New England’s total opened at 8.5. As ESPN’s Ben Fawkes notes, that is New England’s lowest gambling win total since 2003, when they were coming off a season in which they went 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Caesars head oddsmaker Jeff Davis told Fawkes he has very low expectations for the Patriots in their first season without Brady.
“My raw number on the Patriots is less than eight [wins],” Davis said. “Outside of the secondary, which is one of the best in the league, the rest of their roster I think is one of the worst in the NFL.”
Betting the over on the Patriots’ win total was almost been free money when Brady was the starting quarterback. They have gone 14-3-1 to the over against their win total since 2002, but they now have an uncertain QB situation and even less offensive weapons than they had last year.
Caesars also does not think the Patriots will win the AFC East, as the sportsbook has set the Buffalo Bills’ win total at 9 and has them as the favorites to win the division at +100.
“I’m very much struggling to find this team being a 10-win team,” Davis said of the Patriots. “I’m just not buying this team at all. This team will show just how good Belichick and his staff are, compared to some of the other staffs. This might be the year that reality sets in with New England.”
For what it’s worth, Caesars lists the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Brady’s new team — with a win total of 9.
Brady and Belichick are likely both excited to see what they can accomplish without the other. The Patriots went 11-5 in 2008 after Brady tore his ACL in the first game of the season, so many believe Belichick will still be able to coach them to the playoffs without the four-time Super Bowl MVP. Others think they are in serious trouble at the most important position on the field.