After coming off an embarrassing loss to the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card round last year, Vegas has the Patriots taking a step back this year with a line of 8.5 wins after putting up 10 wins last season.
The Pats have one of the hardest schedules in the league next year; per Pro Football Focus they have the second hardest strength of schedule after the Kansas City Chiefs with games against the Packers, Bills twice, Cardinals, Vikings, Ravens, and the reigning AFC champion Bengals. Splitting games with AFC East rivals, Dolphins and Bills are a must for this team to remain relevant in the playoff hunt.
The Pats have also lost key pieces to their defense this offseason. Veteran linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy have not been re-signed since the end of last season and top cornerback J.C. Jackson got a $82 million contract over five years from the Los Angeles Chargers, a price the Pats could not afford to keep Jackson. To make up for Jackson’s loss in the secondary, the Patriots brought back super bowl hero Malcolm Butler while also signing Terrance Mitchell and safety Jabrill Peppers. The Pats also failed to address speed at the linebacker position, which was a glaring need for them after the Wild Card loss.
On the other side of the ball things look a lot more promising as quarterback Mac Jones will be going into his second season after having a great rookie season. Jones will be getting pass catching threat James White back from injury and also former Dolphin, DeVante Parker will be joining the Pats deep receiving core this year. Running backs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson will be returning as well after showing a lot of promise last season with a total of 20 touchdowns between the two.
Despite a well-rounded offense and Bill Belichick at the helm, I believe the Pats do not have enough talent to keep up with the stacked AFC this year. Without a true WR1, CB1, and much needed speed at the linebacker position to keep up with Josh Allen and the tandem of Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill, I believe the Patriots will round out around 7-8 wins this year, missing the playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons.
New England Patriots: o/u 8.5 wins – UNDER