2013 New England Patriots
The New England Patriots stepped onto the field last season hungry and determined after losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl for the second time in five years, 21-17. By their extremely high standards, the Patriots actually got off to a poor start last year as they went 3-3 in their first six Games (4-2 against the spread). However, they quickly got on track and went 9-1 down the stretch (5-5 ATS) to finish 12-4 overall and win the AFC East for the Fourth straight season, locking up a first-round bye and the No. 2 seed in the AFC. The Patriots hosted the Houston Texans in their first playoff Game and duplicated the effort from their meeting in the regular season, with quarterback Tom Brady leading a strong offensive effort in a 41-28 victory. New England then hosted the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game, and the eventual Super Bowl champs put on the clamps on Brady in a surprising 28-13 upset win.
Brady was dominant as usual last season, throwing for 4,827 yards, 34 touchdowns and eight interceptions. For the fifth time in six seasons, wide receiver Wes Welker recorded at least 111 receptions and at least 1,100 receiving yards as he hauled in 118 receptions for 1,354 yards and six TDs. Patriots running back Stevan Ridley had a monster sophomore season, blossoming in a big way as he recorded 1,314 yards of total offense and scored 12 TDs. The Patriots offense as a whole ranked first in the league in points scored, averaging an impressive 34.8 points per Game.
Unfortunately for New England, the team experieNCed one of the most bizarre offseasons ever, losing Welker to the Denver Broncos via free ageNCy and tight end Aaron Hernandez after he was cut following charges of first-degree murder and carrying a firearm without a license. To make matters worse, fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski underwent back surgery and is expected to miss the start of the season. Taking Welker’s place in the slot will be WR Danny Amendola, and he will need to stay healthy after signing a five- year contract. Amendola is the only proven receiver for the Patriots, who will also be counting on TE Jake Ballard to fill in for Gronkowski and rookie Aaron Dobson could emerge as a star at the other WR spot after getting drafted in the second round out of Marshall, the same school that produced former greats Randy Moss and Troy Brown. New England head coach Bill Belichick also GAins a pair of key defensive players in safety Adrian Wilson and defensive lineman Tommy Kelly.
The oddsmakers at 5Dimes have the Patriots at O/U 11.5 wins for this season. While they will likely win the AFC East and be Super Bowl contenders again, there are just too many question marks on both sides of the ball that should keep them from winning more than 11 Games.
Recommended Play: UNDER 11.5