It was a busy and strange offseason for the Patriots. The unthinkable happened as Tom Brady left the New England Patriots after 20 seasons to become the QB of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady virtually cemented his status as the G.O.A.T. with an NFL record seventh Super Bowl win after sports betting odds listed the Bucs preseason chances at +1000
Patriots’ Betting Record
Point Spread: 7-9
Total: Over-Under: 5-11
The team Brady left didn’t quite fair as well as Tampa did. Bill Belichick was tasked with a tough job as a lack of continuity brought on by the pandemic certainly and Brady’s departure hurt the Pats. Brady wasn’t the only significant loss in the offseason as LBs Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins departed as well as S Duron Harmon and C Ted Karras. LB Dont’a Hightower opted out of the season along with seven other players, which was a league high. The Pats signed former MVP QB Cam Newton in the offseason to a one-year deal to replace Brady. It wasn’t a completely failed experiment but the results weren’t up to the usual Patriots standard.
Preseason NFL betting odds listed the Pats O/U at 9 wins and the sportsbook gave them +4000 odds to win the Super Bowl. New England ended up missing the postseason for the first time since 2008, finishing third in a competitive AFC East.
2020 New England Patriots Season Review: First Quarter
Things started decently enough as the Patriots won their season opener against the Miami Dolphins,21-11. Newton scored twice on the ground and the Pats intercepted Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick three times. New England’s first tough test was against the Seattle Seahawks a week later.
The Patriots were defeated by the Seahawks, 35-30. Newton once again had a solid game as he completed 30-of-44 passes for 397 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He added two scores on the ground and 47 rushing yards. WR Julian Edelman had a game high 179 receiving yards on eight targets. There were more encouraging signs offensively in the Week 3 win as New England put 36 points on the Las Vegas Raiders and rushed for 250 yards in the process.
However, Newton was ruled out of the NFL Week 4 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs because he tested positive for COVID-19. Brian Hoyer started in his place, but the Patriots offense only managed to score 10 points in the 16-point loss. All things considered, 2-2 wasn’t the worst place for the Pats to be after four games.
Point Spread: 2-2
Total: Over-Under: 2-2
Despite missing the game against the Chiefs, Newton wouldn’t have to miss any more time thanks to a conveniently scheduled bye week. Upon his return in NFL Week 6, however, he and the Patriots’ offense looked out of whack. The Pats managed 12 points against the Denver Broncos in a disappointing loss. Through four starts, Newton had found success on the ground but had thrown two TD passes compared to four interceptions.
The defense had actually fared quite well through five games despite losing a bunch of players in the offseason. They allowed just 22 points per game, which was 11th in the league at the time. Next week, though, they were dominated by the 49ers 33-6, led by former Pats QB Jimmy Garoppolo. To make matters worse, Edelman had knee surgery following the game which kept him out for the remainder of the year.
The week after, the Buffalo Bills handed the Patriots their fourth straight loss, which was their first four-game losing streak since 2002. New England even needed a comeback win in Week 9 to hold off the 0-8 Jets. It was clear that the Patriots had issues through eight games and life after Brady got off to a rough start.
Point Spread: 1-3
Total: Over-Under: 2-2
New England managed an impressive 23-17 win against the Baltimore Ravens in a Week 10 NFL matchup, which kept the Patriots in the playoff hunt. With their inconsistency on full display, the Patriots dropped a game to the 2-7 Houston Texans a week later. Then, they won two straight games against the Arizona Cardinals and Chargers.
Against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Patriots put together what was by far their most complete performance of the season. In the 45-0 win, the Pats returned a blocked field goal and a punt return for a touchdown and effectively frustrated Chargers Rookie of the Year QB Justin Herbert. Newton also added two rushing TDs bringing his season total to 11. The Pats stood at 6-6 with four games left and it certainly looked like they’d need to win out to make the playoffs.
Point Spread: 3-1
Total: Over-Under: 0-4
Dreams of winning out faded quickly. An NFL Week 14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams effectively cratered the Patriots’ playoff chances. Their loss to the Dolphins a week later was the nail in the coffin. The Patriots’ offense sputtered when they needed to step up and produce.
Following a third straight loss, courtesy of the Bills, they had averaged just eight points per game in the preceding three games. The Patriots picked up a consolation win against division rivals the New York Jets
in the season finale, but finishing 7-9 was quite a disappointment.
Newton never quite found his MVP form from his days with the Carolina Panthers. He finished the season with more interceptions than touchdowns and passed for just 177 yards per game. Tom Brady winning the Super Bowl with his new team certainly stung as it’s clear that he has some gas left in the tank at 43. Belichick and the Patriots front office have a lot of work to do to rebuild this Patriots team into a contender again.
Point Spread: 1-3
Total: Over-Under: 1-3
Divisional Record: 3-3
Conference Record: 6-6
Full Season Grade: C
Looking Ahead to Next Season
The Patriots need a franchise QB. It doesn’t look like Newton, at 31 and with a lengthy NFL injury history, is the Patriots future. The free agent class doesn’t look great this year which means the Patriots may have to sign another stopgap QB until they find their guy. Trading to get Jimmy Garoppolo back or Marcus Mariota may be feasible or the Patriots could go the draft route. In any case, the Patriots will make getting a QB a priority this offseason.
The Pats lost some talented linebackers last season and Dont’a Hightower’s absence hurt them tremendously. They’ll need to address their linebacker depth. The Patriots also need to retool their Wide Receivers and Tight Ends to improve an offense that ranked 27th in yards and points scored.
Their coach. Bill Belichick is a proven winner and I don’t expect the Patriots to be mediocre for too much longer. Even with a shorthanded defense, the Patriots were able to hold opponents to 22.1 points per game which was seventh best in the league.
The Patriots have a ton of players entering free agency so their roster could look pretty different come the fall. However, second-year players like RB Damien Harris, WR Jakobi Meyers, and DE Chase Winovich had good years. They led the team in rushing, receiving, and sacks respectively.