214 Days ago the New England Patriots won one of the most amazing Superbowl’s of all time, famously coming back from 28-3 down to beat the Atlanta Falcons in Overtime. My memories of that night are still remarkably vivid, and we’ve had a long long off season to think about it all, to mull over the coming season! We’ve spent the long, cold, dark period without NFL putting together a fair bit of content, which started off in March with the Draft which was quite a nice little earner for us (Here and Here) – We have posted previews on all 8 divisions which you can find a little way down the front page, and put out quite a few recommendations for the coming year (check the “bets” section in the menu to see them all) – Most of which have shortened in price, so as far as value goes, they seem to be pretty good, just need things to pan out as we hope for a good year!
After an off-season where the biggest issue for the Patriots was where to hang the banner for winning yet another Superbowl, they get the privilege of opening the following season on their home turf against a team of their choice. I’ll admit, I thought it would have been a straight re-match against the Falcons, but they chose instead to take on an AFC “rival” in the Kansas City Chiefs. Makes sense I guess, mark your territory in your own division as once again the team to beat in the coming season and I expect the Patriots to do just that.
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots (Pats -8, o/u 48 points)
The Patriots enter the season as the 9/2 (priceboost on Skybet, 7/2 elsewhere) favourites to lift the Lombardi again this coming February and it’s not hard to see why, they somehow look even better on paper than they did last year which is a horrible thought for anyone else in the league hoping to challenge for the championship. They have instilled so much fear into the other teams in their division, that 2 of them are deliberately trying to lose (Bills and Jets) in the hope that Tom Brady retires in the next few years and the draft picks that they’ll acquire will provide them with an influx of talent, and the other team seems intent on losing every half-decent player to injury before the season even starts. They will win the East at a canter again (They’ve won 13 of the last 14 AFC East titles) and stroll into the second game of the playoffs nicely rested to take on the Titans or Chargers, or whoever scrapes their way through a wildcard match to make it to Foxborough – BUT that’s a long way away yet, lets try and start the season with some winners.
The Patriots tied the record for wins against the spread last year with a remarkable 16-3 record including their post-season exploits. It doesn’t seem to matter how big the number gets (iirc it was around -14 against the Jets just before Christmas and they still beat it, easily… 41-3) They are frankly a rather good team. They were without Tom Brady for the first 4 games of last season and showed that while it was a downgrade it proved no problem as they won 3 of the 4 games he missed and finished the season losing only 1 other game. Brady was supreme, finishing the regular season 28-2 TD to Int record, the best ratio of his career, and provided the second highest QBR of his career as well. At the age of 40 most players start to fall off, but not him. One pretty major piece of news that happened in week 3 of the pre-season was Julian Edelman going down for the season with a torn ACL. On most teams this would seriously affect the ability to move the ball, he’s Bradys favourite and most trusted target, used mostly to move the chains, 98 receptions at an average of just over 11 per catch last year, but with the Patriots will it even be noticed? They’re so well coached that Bill Bellichek will just use the next man on the roster and things probably won’t look much different. Fortunately for them they brought in Brandin Cooks from the Saints at the start of free agency, he can play anywhere in the WR set, he’s got great speed and runs routes well, there was talk that he could be an eventual replacement for Edelman as a slot receiver, so he can fill in there if needed. Chris Hogan though could be the main beneficiary, and he’s one I will be keeping an eye on this season. In the game that Edelman went down, he scored 2 TDs from downfield passes and if Cooks is used inside more it will mean he’s pretty much unchallenged as the threat down the field for the Pats. Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell are the other 2 to keep an eye on, Mitchell was a rookie last year and had a good connection with Brady, there was a chance he may have been on the outside looking in, but the Edelman injury opens up an opportunity for him to get some game time, I really like Mitchell and he showed he can be trusted when helping to turn the Superbowl in February.
At RB they’ve got a whole lot of guys to choose from which is what Bellichek wants. He will use the guys who fits the specific game plan that week, horrible for betting on or for fantasy players, but great for the team. Mike Gillislee is the most likely to be the number one, he averaged over 5 yards per carry (ypc) for the Bills last year scoring 8 TDs and the Patriots gave him a contract that they knew the Bills wouldn’t match to bring him over to the dark side. He’s a good runner and was used a lot as a goal line back so he seems the one to keep an eye on for any potential bets – He was viewed as the TD guy replacing Blount, but he’s much more than that. Before they signed up Gilly, they had brought in free agent Rex Burkhead on an enticing deal that raised some eyebrows. They paid him well and it looked like he’d be the top guy on the roster, he has played very well in the action he’s been given and Brady used him a lot in the 3rd pre-season game against the Lions. He can also play in the slot to cover the Edelman injury should they need him to do that. They’re the shiny new toys in the RB room, but the incumbents weren’t exactly bad either. James White scored 3 TDs in the Superbowl. 3 DAMN Touchdowns, yet seems likely to be a situational player again this year, and Dion Lewis is still yet to taste defeat when playing for the team! He also scored a hat-trick in the post-season against the Texans, he seems like the odd man out which is remarkable given his history for the team.
At Tight end they have a guy you may have heard of, Mr. Gronkowski is a phenom. When he plays, and that’s been his issue, he gets a lot of injuries which isn’t too surprising given his size and how he plays, when he plays. he’s the best there has ever been at the position. They were without him for a lot of last season (He actually played in 8 games, but I’d only count 5 of them) but that still didn’t stop them winning nearly every game. At the time of writing this he’s fully fit and ready to go. In the games he did play last year he averaged over 21 ypc, that’s remarkable, if he’s there for the season then you’ll struggle to stop the Patriots. – IF he misses games, which seems likely then they will be using Dwayne Allen who they picked up from the Colts as a replacement for Martellus Bennett who went to the Packers. He is a good player and scored 6 times for the bum Colts last year (although 3 did come in one game) He’ll do a job for them when needed.
That’s about it for the Pats skill players. In conclusion. They’re good. Too good.
The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t exactly rubbish themselves, so it seems weird to find them starting the season as 8 point underdogs, but the Patriots are just that good. The Chiefs actually have one of the best records over the last 3 seasons, like my team, the Bengals they just can’t make it to that next level of challenging the very good teams in the league.
The Chiefs start the season with captain check-down under centre again, Alex Smith is a good quarterback at what he does, he provides the team with wins, but come playoff time he hasn’t got the play-making ability to take them to the next level. But what he does do well is find his man with short passes.
Having lost WR Jeremy Maclin in free agency, I believe his main target this year will be the tight end Travis Kelce. He’s a big lad in the middle of the field with a surprisingly good burst of speed to enable him to get a half yard on defensive players around him, and Smith has the accuracy to find him. He’s probably got a good chance of being the leagues reception leader this year (GMan has tipped him on his blog on OLBG at big odds) Without Maclin in games at the end of last season he went for 4 consecutive games with over 100 yards. Problem is he doesn’t score many TDs which is frustrating if you’ve got him in fantasy.
So with Kelce probably taking up the bulk of the targets in the passing game who else is there? Well, Tyreek Hill burst onto the scene last year (literally, he’s got electric speed) The chiefs manufactured a lot of touches for him last year rushing the ball, catching and returning kicks. He became the first rookie to score a rushing, receiving and returning TD in a game, if he gets the ball into some space then he’s damn difficult to stop and a fantastic guy to watch. (We’ll ignore the domestic abuse as it was quite a while ago now and probably doesn’t need mentioning, if I ignore the Mixon stuff I can ignore this and talk football) He will be a big factor in their roster this year as there really isn’t much else available to them. The others are all average at best, Chris Conley could be something, and will need to be, but it’s yet to be seen whether he can be. Albert Wilson again isn’t awful but is nothing special. They picked up a rookie Jehu Chesson but he’s not been pulling up any trees in pre-season either, so other than the 2 pass catchers highlighted. I really don’t know who to look for with them.
They DID know what they had at running back, they were going to be using Spencer Ware as the main back with Kareem Hunt mixing in as a change of pace, but at nearly the same time that Edelman did his ACL, Ware went and did his PCL which has taken him out for the season as well. So it looks likely that Kareem Hunt will be taking the majority of the carries with maybe Charcandrick West or CJ Spiller as the 2 guys behind him. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as Hunt was a work horse back in college, and (I heard earlier today) he never once fumbled the ball which is crazy if true! He looked great against the Bengals and even with Ware fit and ready they were clearly trying to see what they had, and it’s lucky that they did that. It will be intriguing to see how he does especially starting off against the best team in the league who have a surprisingly good defence that never gets mentioned!
The strength of the Chiefs lies in their defence. They have a few star players mixed with above average players. Eric Berry is a great safety with a great story after overcoming cancer earlier in his life. Justin Houston when healthy is a very good pass rusher, Marcus Peters is one of the best corners in the league as well. They did however lose their 300 pound rushing and passing hero Dontari Poe to the Falcons which will hit them offensively. But they did just sign Reggie Ragland from the Bills who was a high draft pick for them a year ago, he has a lot of promise though so should add to the roster.
So there you have it. Honestly I am not sure where to go on this game. I’m hoping that when the player props are out I will find something that catches my eye. I would imagine that the Pats will cover the spread, it’s what they do, but i’m not confident enough to tip it.
I will say that on the 29th of August I posted a bet on twitter that I am hoping by the time I post this will have come to fruition. The Rams +3 vs the Colts in their opener. The Colts are probably without Andrew Luck for it, without him they’re not very good, they are also without their center and probably their leading CB who commands the defence. It could be a very painful start to the season for the Rams. – Basically one of two places were keeping the original line of Rams +3 while the majority had either taken the market down or reset the market to Rams -3. I also recommended under the total of 47 points, which I expect to be reset to 44.5 when the market opens again. 4 points and 3 points respectively. – I know for a fact that this line isn’t available now, so apologies for those who didn’t get on, it was posted repeatedly on twitter, again, apologies if you missed it. I may well start a telegram channel to get bets over to the world which won’t go missing in amongst my twitter feed, but that will come later in the year if I do.
One word of warning, it’s tough for the first few weeks as there’s not a huge amount of form to judge on paper, so go easy the first week or two while things are figuring themselves out.
Summary for this game –
- Chris Hogan anytime TD – 2/1 (Skybet) – 2pts (this is a best price of 8/5 elsewhere)
- Chris Hogan 2 or more – 12/1 (365) – 1 pt.
- Kelce over 49.5 rec. Yards – 10/11 (skybet) – 2pts
- Kareem Hunt o44.5 rush yards – 10/11 (skybet) – 2 pts
Here’s to a successful season! Thank you for the all the new follows and I hope you enjoy the writeups through the season.
For Sunday night –
- Rams +3 – 10/11 – 4 pts
- Rams/Colts points total u47 – 3pts