- The New England Patriots have stumbled to a 1-2 start
- It’s altered their Super Bowl odds, leaving them at +890 average odds
- Can the Patriots navigate this start back to the Super Bowl? Can they even make it through the AFC?
The New England Patriots find themselves in an unenviable position to start the 2018 NFL season.
But it’s not an unfamiliar one.
When Week 4 begins, New England will be playing out of the shadows of a 1-2 start. They’ve beaten a hapless Texans team, lost the AFC Championship rematch with the Jaguars, and also lost to the then-0-2 Lions, which hurt their odds to win Super Bowl 53 the most.
Average Odds to Win Super Bowl 53
After entering the 2018 NFL season with average odds of +580, they have now fallen to +890, where they are no longer the favorites in the AFC.
Super Bowl 53 Odds
|Los Angeles Rams||3-0||+450|
|New England Patriots||1-2||+800|
|Kansas City Chiefs||3-0||+900|
*Follow the link in the table to see odds for all 32 teams
Can the Patriots rebound from their sluggish start? History tells us they can, but they’re also facing different hurdles than in years past.
Slow starts nothing new for Patriots
Looking back on recent Patriots’ history, slow starts aren’t out of the norm.
Tom Brady to @KirkAndCallahan this morning, on Patriots slow starts the last two weeks. “Pretty, pretty poor. That’s the only way to describe it… We’re starting slow, we’re getting behind, and turning these games into situations where… you’re not going to overcome ‘em.”
— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) September 24, 2018
While the Kansas City Chiefs are roaring out of the gate in the AFC, the Patriots are still finding themselves. For proof of this we can use last season as an example.
It was a game against the Chiefs that kicked off the Patriots’ sluggish start then.
|Stat||Patriots’ first 4 games (2017)||Patriots’ last 12 games (2017)||2018 Season (3 games)|
|Points per Game||32.25||27.4||19|
|Points Against per Game||32||14||25.6|
|Yard per Game||423.8||384.4||300|
The Patriots defense was bleeding yards and points last year, forcing their offense to keep up in those shootouts.
New England came out of those games 2-2. They proceeded to lose one game the rest of the year.
September isn’t usually the Patriots’ best month
Check out how New England has typically done in the first month of the season. The results may surprise some.
|Season||September Record||Final Results|
|2017||2-2||13-3, 1st in AFC, Lost Super Bowl|
|2016||3-1||14-2, 1st in AFC, Won Super Bowl|
|2015||4-0||12-4, 2nd in AFC, lost AFC Championship Game|
|2014||2-2||12-4, 1st in AFC, Won Super Bowl|
In two of the last four seasons, the Patriots have gone 2-2 in September. That includes the famous ‘We’re on to Cincinnati’ game.
In the three years New England has lost a game in September, they’ve made the Super Bowl. And even in their September wins, the results haven’t necessarily been pretty.
.@Patriots have overcome slow starts, but Belichick/Brady have only started 1-3 ONCE and that was 2001 when they won Super Bowl. Have to feel Sunday’s game vs 3-0 Miami is as close to a “must-win” as they come. #Patriots #WBZ pic.twitter.com/TA6O6nyqEm
— Dan Roche (@RochieWBZ) September 24, 2018
Are the problems in New England different this year?
Yes. And depending on who you ask, they’re fixable.
Patriots aren’t starting, or finishing, fast
One of the biggest things analysts have noticed about the Patriots, is a lack of team speed on defense. They’ve also seemed hesitant in key spots against the Lions on Sunday.
But it also may be the sign of things to come. One of the more overlooked storylines for the Patriots the past few years, is their lack of success when it comes to the early part of the draft.
|2017||Derek Rivers, DE||3rd round, 83rd overall|
|2016||Cyrus Jones, CB||2nd round, 60th overall|
|2015||Malcom Brown, DT||1st round, 32nd overall|
|2014||Dominique Easley, DT*||1st round, 29th overall|
|2013||Jamie Collins, LB*||2nd round, 52nd overall|
|2012||Chandler Jones, DE* / Dont’a Hightower, LB||1st round, 21st overall / 1st round, 25th overall- No longer with team|
*indicates no longer with team
Three of those players aren’t with the team anymore. It would’ve been four if the Patriots hadn’t brought back Cyrus Jones earlier last week.
New England does a better job than any other team with their undrafted free agent class. But while you can find the Malcolm Butler’s of the world there, you’re still missing out on elite first round athletes.
Patriots defensive problems from a statistical measurement. According to ESPN Stats and Info – Rank 32nd in DYAC (defensive yards after contact/per touch) Certain stats bore me. Not this one. Tackling has to improve.
— Tedy Bruschi (@TedyBruschi) September 25, 2018
Whether they’re hits or misses, difference makers are easier to find in the early rounds than in the later ones. Or even after the draft.
Does mean this is the year that it all catches up to the Patriots? Maybe not. But it’s something worth monitoring.
Patriots offense shouldn’t stay stagnant for long
With Tom Brady at the helm, the Patriots’ offense has typically functioned as a well-oiled machine.
So far this season though, that hasn’t been the case.
|Opponent||Passing Yards (AVG)||Rushing Yards (AVG)||Touchdowns||3rd Down %|
|Week 1: Texans||267||122||3||28.6%|
|Week 2: Jaguars||220||82||2||33.3%|
|Week 3: Lions||120||89||1||22.2%|
The offseason losses of Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola have been felt because of Julian Edelman’s suspension. With no Edelman, defense can devote attention to Gronk.
That’s led to one of the least effective three game stretches of his career.
Josh McDaniels says WR Josh Gordon has "already demonstrated an ability" to pick up the #Patriots offense. He's not worried about that issue.
— Andy Hart (@JumboHart) September 24, 2018
But after Week 4, Edelman and his career 10.7 yards/reception are back. And as soon as this week, the field stretching Josh Gordon should be able to help Brady and Gronk out too.
Chris Hogan and Phil Dorsett haven’t been able to threaten defenses the way Edelman and Gordon can. These additions allow them to return to the complementary roles where they thrive.
Can the Patriots recover from their dip in Super Bowl 53 odds?
History tells us yes. And if you’re looking to get them at good value, this may be the best you see all season.
But they’ve created some bumps in the road for themselves.
For a team that cherishes home field advantage, an AFC Championship rematch would likely be played in Jacksonville.
Dolphins offense is 11th in points per game. Patriots are tied for 25th.
Dolphins defense is sixth in points allowed per game. Patriots are tied for 20th.
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) September 26, 2018
While they have winnable home dates with the Dolphins and Colts coming up, they also welcome the Chiefs to Gillette.
Andy Reid and Kansas City aren’t scared of the Patriots. They’ve also been dominating opponents. New England loses that game, and there’s another team they lose home field against.
The Patriots should recover from their opening season stumble, but they’re no longer a lock to survive the AFC.
Let alone win the Super Bowl.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.