Patriots drop in Super Bowl futures, but history says don’t panic

Apparently nine straight AFC East titles, three Super Bowl appearances and two Super Bowl victories in the last four years, and the best quarterback-coach combination in the history of the NFL only earn you so much leeway.

Super Bowl LIII favorites at the start of the year, the Patriots’ sluggish start to the 2018 season (1-2 record, including a 31-20 loss at Jacksonville and a 26-10 loss at Detroit) has seen them fall from +650 to +800, nearly twice as long as the now-favored LA Rams (+400).

New England under Tom Brady and Bill Belichick has never been immune from slow starts. Just last year, they lost two of their first four games, both at Gillette Stadium, including a 42-27 Week 1 rout at the hands of Kansas City. They went on to finish 13-3 and earn home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

The Pats also started 2-2 in 2014 and 1-2 in 2012. Their record at the end of those seasons? Both 12-4.

Is this year different?

Possibly. This is the first time the Pats have lost back to back games by double digits since 2004, and this team has issues, to be sure. To start with, the offensive line is suffering from injuries and missing Nate Solder; it’s generating little push up front, which is leading to an anemic ground game.

In turn, that is putting a ton of pressure on Brady, and he hasn’t been able to respond so far, which is understandable since tight end Rob Gronkowski and satellite back James White are his biggest threats through the air.

The issues on defense are just as big. New England has little to no pass rush and their usually solid DB group is getting burned downfield.

But the Patriots have always managed to figure things out, and there’s more than just historical trends to indicate they will get better as the 2018 season progresses.

The biggest reason is that they are going to get healthier.

New England has been missing top WR Julian Edelman all season. In the debacle in Detroit, they were also missing Trey Flowers, their best defensive player, along with CB Eric Rowe. In the backfield, first-round running back Sony Michel is still recovering from a knee procedure and Rex Burkhead left the Lions game with a neck injury.

When Flowers returns, the pass rush will improve along with the team's defense, which should lead to better results for the Patriots. Those better results will then lead to better odds. Sportsbooks generally update the numbers throughout the season but it’s a good idea to do research on those sites before you make your bet. For example, while this updated review of Bovada points out how easy it is to maneuver the site, they're slow on posting odds.

As Michel and Burkhead heal up, so will the ground game. And when Edelman comes back, the passing game is going to look completely different and be miles more effective. It will have the potential to reach the next level if Josh Gordon gets integrated into the offense. Everyone agrees that the troubled receiver has Randy Moss-type upside, and the Moss experiment turned out awfully well for New England.

The second reason not to panic on the Pats is that they have yet to lose a game at home. Under Brady and Belichick, the Patriots have been downright dominant at Gillette. Over the last 4+ seasons, they are 27-6 at home, and they play their next three games in front of their faithful fans.

By Week 8, there’s a very good chance this team is 5-2 and back atop both the AFC East and the Super Bowl 53 futures.
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