Seeking Bucs-Like Super Bowl Bet? Examine Brady’s Old Team
After two decades leading one of the great dynasties in sports history, Tom Brady left the New England Patriots to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2020 NFL season.
How’d it go? If you’re a Bucs or Brady fan, very well. Tampa Bay defeated Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at Super Bowl 55 — in the Bucs’ home stadium, no less — and Brady had one of his best seasons en route to his seventh Super Bowl championship.
If you’re a Patriots fan, the split didn’t work out as well. Coach Bill Belichick brought former NFL MVP Cam Newton to New England on a one-year, prove-it deal, but all it proved was how great Brady was. Newton passed for eight TDs and 10 INTs in 15 games as New England missed the playoffs and suffered its first losing season since 2000.
But perhaps all is not yet lost in New England. In fact, we think that for NFL betting fans, the Patriots could be the Buccaneers of 2021 — a midlevel team with midlevel odds who come out on top in the end.
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Similar Preseason NFL Odds Respect
When Super Bowl 54 concluded, the Buccaneers were +5000 in NFL futures betting to win Super Bowl 55. Of course, that was with Jameis Winston as their QB, before Brady came to town. Brady helped to recruit Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown, turning the Buccaneers into a top-tier offense. The rest is history.
The Patriots are at +4500 in the latest 2022 Super Bowl odds (at FOX Bet). Newton is a free agent. Jarrett Stidham is the best option on the current roster. That doesn’t scream “Lombardi Trophy.” And it’s why New England is a Super Bowl betting afterthought.
Reinforcements Coming Back in New England
New England doesn’t have to hit free agency or even the NFL Draft to fill its many needs. Some will be walking through the door on their own.
The NFL allowed players to opt out of the 2020 season to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19, penalty free. And no team was crushed like the Patriots. They had eight players opt out — only one other team had more than three. Some of those players were high profile, including three-time Super Bowl champion safety Patrick Chung and two-time Pro Bowl LB Dont’a Hightower, top tackle Marcus Cannon (who might not be back for the 2021 season) and special teams standout Brandon Bolden.
After ranking No. 1 in the NFL in yards and points allowed in 2019, those numbers fell to No. 7/15. That’s not bad, but it’s not Super Bowl level. Chung and Hightower immediately fill two needs.
Patriots Offense 1 QB Away
Newton could run the ball — he tied James White for most carries on the team and scored 12 times on the ground. But he couldn’t get the ball downfield and that made the Patriots one-dimensional. In today’s NFL, it’s tough to win like that and the NFL odds will reflect that.
But the team has legit running back options. White is one of the premier pass-catching backs and showed his mettle as the lead back for most of the year. Sony Michel should be 100% after missing most of the year (he averaged 5.7 ypc on 79 attempts).
If the team retains Joe Thuney and David Andrews, it should again have one of the most formidable offensive lines in the league.
Pats Could Draft Immediate Playmaker
The Patriots have a lot of needs, and of course it starts at quarterback. But after that, the team needs players to catch balls thrown by the QB.
The pass-catching corps could use an upgrade. Julian Edelman is getting long in the tooth and Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers have been inconsistent, thought they have shown flashes. N’Keal Harry has been a big disappointment, but he’s entering just his third season. Tight end remains an issue.
If the Pats want immediate help at WR or TE, this is a great draft to do it. New England owns the No. 15 overall pick, and several prominent mock drafts have linked them to Florida star TE Kyle Pitts (above) and Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle.
Plenty of Salary Cap Space
Unless the Pats are going to start Stidham, they need a QB to lead this veteran squad. Options are drying up, with Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz already moved in trades.
The Patriots have the third-most cap space in the league and the most of any potentially contending team. Only the Jaguars and Jets have more, according to Spotrac.
That means the Pats have the means to pay top dollar for a QB, if there’s one they like. Dak Prescott is at the top of every team’s dream list in free agency. If the Cowboys don’t pony up the huge asking price, the only other teams with the cap space to make it work include the aforementioned Jaguars and Jets — both likely to draft their future signal-callers — along with the Colts (who just acquired Wentz) and Bengals (who have Joe Burrow).
Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Marcus Mariota and Newton are the other top draws on the market. Prescott is the only one that immediately propels the Pats to legit contender status.
New England can also find receiving weapons. Several marquee WRs are for the taking, including Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The same goes for TE, where Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith are plug-and-play available options.
Conclusion: Pats Are A Decent Longshot Bet
The Patriots have needs. Quarterback is the big one, but pass-catchers and pass rushers are near the top of the list, too. All that said, they’re not far from being a contender again. They went 7-9 last season despite a 30th-ranked pass offense and key player opt outs.
The 2020 Pats defense ranked in the top 10 in points allowed, passing yards and QB rating allowed, and had the fewest penalties. They immediately get two playmakers back. The offense can improve in a receiver-strong draft and the Pats can outbid nearly everyone in free agency.
It begins at QB. But if Belichick and the front office can get a starter to pan out, the other pieces can fall into place and New England’s demise will prove to be short.