NFL prop odds: Fade the Patriots – Fantasy Columns


2020 NFL bets against the Patriots

Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook, as of June 30. 

Buffalo Bills to Win AFC East (+150)

Coming off a 10-6 season, the Buffalo Bills should have one of the top defenses in the NFL again. CB Tre’Davios White was an All-Pro in 2019 and LB Tremaine Edmonds was a Pro Bowler. Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde are a solid duo at safety, and Buffalo added another pass rusher in AJ Epenesa via a second-round pick in the NFL Draft. 

Offensively, Buffalo sent its first-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for WR Stefon Diggs. Diggs is a dynamic receiver to pair with John Brown and Cole Beasley. Diggs has had over 1,000 yards receiving in each of the last two seasons and hauled in 23 touchdowns over the last three years. Brown and Beasley each had six touchdown catches last season. 

In the backfield, Buffalo drafted Utah RB Zack Moss in the third round to pair with last year’s third-round pick Devin Singletary. Singletary rushed for 775 yards as a rookie and had 29 receptions out of the backfield.

The biggest question is can Josh Allen make the next step at quarterback? Allen threw 20 touchdown passes and rushed for another nine last year. But he completed just 58.8% of his passes, the worst mark in the league. Allen also had the highest percentage of uncatchable passes on 20-plus yard throws per Pro Football Focus.

From top to bottom, Buffalo has more talent than the Patriots and if the quarterback play improves, I love this bet.

Patriots will NOT make the playoffs (+184)

Remember, seven teams will make the playoffs from each conference this year, making this bet a little risker. The Patriots have reached the postseason in 16 of the last 17 seasons. The only time New England missed the playoffs was a Tom Brady-less 11-5 campaign in 2008. 

Enter Cam Newton. He’s only 31 years old but is coming off a foot injury that sidelined him for 14 games last season. Newton rushed for 58 touchdowns from 2011-18 but only had five rushing attempts in his two games played last season. Prior to last season’s Lisfranc injury, Newton injured his shoulder in 2018. 

Newton has completed just 59.6% of his passes since 2016, which is 37th among 40 qualifying quarterbacks. However, he had a 67.6% completion in 2018 before missing the final two games of the season. 

I anticipate OC Josh McDaniels to create a unique game plan that emphasizes Newton’s strengths, while also relying heavily on a solid backfield. That being said, the Patriots wide receiver corps seems to be quite limited. Julian Edelman had 100 receptions last season but is now 34 years old. 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry must step up entering his second year. He only had 12 catches on 24 targets in seven games, and Mohammad Sanu underperformed after getting traded from Cincinnati mid-season in 2019.

With a challenging schedule, a quarterback with an injured past, and an underwhelming wide receiver corps, I’ll bet against history and grab the plus money.


Patriots UNDER 9.5 wins (-110)

The last time the New England Patriots won less than 10 games in a season was 2002. That’s 17 straight seasons of 10 or more wins. To put that into perspective, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” topped the charts the last time New England failed to win 10 games.

So am I an idiot to make this bet? Maybe. However, many sportsbooks including DraftKings, Westgate, and Caesars set the Patriots win total at 9. At FanDuel, a 9-7 season is a winner. I mentioned a challenging schedule above: in addition to an improved AFC East, the Patriots visit the Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Texans, L.A. Chargers, and L.A. Rams. Additionally, the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, and Arizona Cardinals head to Foxboro in the fall. 

That schedule is no cakewalk. Give me the under.

Tim Murray is the host of “The Daily Line” radio show as well as a sports betting analyst for NBC Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @1TimMurray.


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