Brady, Belichick Set To Lead Patriots Through Adversity In 2013
The New England Patriots have been in the online sports betting spotlight this offseason for all of the wrong reasons. Whether it’s Wes Welker leaving town to play for another legitimate AFC contender in Denver, Rob Gronkowski partying when he should be rehabbing after another offseason surgery, or Aaron Hernandez’s infamous fall, a negative spotlight has been cast on New England since last year’s playoff exit at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. However, Tom Brady is back at quarterback, and Bill Belichick is still coaching, and that is more than enough for the Patriots to be favored to win the AFC East and more. New England is listed at -450 as the outright favorites to win the AFC East, and at +800 to win the Super Bowl behind only the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos
With four-straight AFC East titles and nine in the past 10 years, it really wouldn’t make sense to bet against the Patriots in their own division. The offense does lose Welker, Hernandez, and will be without Gronkowski for some time, but it also adds Danny Amendola, Donald Jones, Michael Jenkins, and rookies Aaron Dobson and Josh Broyce at wide receiver, as well as Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells at tight end. New England also has a much stronger rushing attack with Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, and Brady has won Super Bowl rings with a lot less talent around him on the offense before.
The real intrigue should be in regards to a rising defense that may have one of the best linebacker cores in the NFL. The Patriots have invested heavily in the position over the years, and it is starting to pay off with Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, and Brandon Spikes all rising stars with Pro Bowl potential. New England is also deeper up front with second-year defensive end Chandler Jones – the team’s 2012 first-round pick, as well as All-Pro nose tackle Vince Wilfork. The secondary is still somewhat of a concern after the Patriots struggled against the pass last online sportsbook season, but the addition of Adrian Wilson and return of Aqib Talib should make this group better.
Stephen Gostkowski scored a career-high 153 points last season and will be back, as well as punter Zoltan Mesko, who is looking to bounce back. Matthew Slate is coming off his second-straight Pro Bowl selection, and will have competition returning kicks with Dobson a return specialist from Marshall that averaged 13.1 yards per punt return with three touchdowns last season.
The sports betting outlook in New England is simple. As long as Brady and Belichick are working together there is a good chance that the Patriots won’t be stopped in the AFC East. Whether or not Brady and company can navigate their way through the rest of the AFC with a new cast of receivers and an improved defense is another story altogether, but they should be a lock to win the division for a fifth-straight season and competed for one of the top two seeds in the AFC.
2013 Projection: 13-3; 1st in AFC East