Like most of us, 2020 didn’t go as the New England Patriots planned.
Tom Brady left and won a Super Bowl in Tampa. Cam Newton flopped in his first year in Foxborough. And Bill Belichick’s once-feared defense ranked below the Puppy Bowl in DVOA.
The AFC East could be passing the Pats by, but New England had the most active offseason in the NFL and poured money into both sides of the ball. Do those additions mean a return to ATS glory for New England? We’ll find out.
Check out our 2021 New England Patriots NFL betting preview.
New England Patriots futures odds
|To Win Conference||+1,000|
|To Win Division||+375|
|To Make Playoffs||Yes +135/No -155|
|Season Win Total O/U||9 (Over -140)|
Best futures bet: Make playoffs: Yes (+135)
I’m not getting too caught up with what happened to this team in 2020. On top of COVID-19 disrupting Belichick’s process and some key players sitting out, this franchise was coming to terms with the loss of Tom Brady and lacked the skill position talent of years past. New England also had four one-score losses on the books for a 7-9 SU finish.
The 2021 Pats are in much better shape on both sides of the ball. Cam Newton is a shell of his former MVP self but has better targets — safer targets — around him in new TEs Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith (and we know Cam loves TEs) as well as WR Nelson Agholor, who is coming off a career year in Vegas.
Do they challenge Buffalo for the division crown? Nah. Do they make the tournament in the expanded postseason? Yep.
New England Patriots betting overview
What will win bets: Defense
New England was the premier defensive club in 2019. Before COVID. Before the dark times. The Patriots’ Defensive DVOA flipped from No. 1 to No. 26 in 2020, as departures, injuries, and opt-outs piled up. The Swiss cheese defensive line has been patched up with plenty of new faces and the linebacker corps gets a boost with the return of Dont’a Hightower and signings of Kyle Van Noy and Matt Judon.
The stop unit should also benefit from improvements on offense — more specifically greater time of possession. Josh McDaniels has his two tight end sets back and Newton proved he can still grab gains on the ground, backed by a rushing attack that averaged 4.7 yards per carry last season (8th). New England ate up the fourth most TOP in the league when this stop unit ranked No. 1 in 2019.
What will lose bets: Passing game
If New England falls behind and has to throw the ball, there’s going to be trouble. Last season, Newton averaged just 7.3 yards per target and the Pats had only 38 passing plays of 20-plus yards (third-fewest), finishing 27th in Passing Offense DVOA at Football Outsiders.
Newton’s accuracy and decision-making manifested themselves into only eight TD throws... and 10 INTs, which wasn’t all on Cam. His best receiving options were either RBs or Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd.
And — if Newton gets the hook, rookie QB Mac Jones steps in. He’ll find out quickly that the Pats’ WR room is not like it was at Alabama.
New England Patriots game-by-game odds
The Patriots, who sit T19 in SOS, are currently laying the points in nine games with a pick’em spread at Carolina in Week 9 and Week 15’s trip to Indianapolis off the board due to the Colts’ injury issues. That said, New England is giving less than a field goal in five of those games.
The Pats’ totals for 2021 are more interesting. New England’s Over/Under numbers are low, topping out at 49 points in the Week 4 matchup with Tampa Bay, and boasting just five totals of 48 points or more. Last year’s team tackled only three totals of 48-plus and stayed Under in all three.
|2||@ N.Y. Jets||-3.5||42.5|
|3||vs New Orleans||-1||47|
|4||vs Tampa Bay||+3.5||49|
|7||vs N.Y. Jets||-6.5||44.5|
|8||@ L.A. Chargers||+2.5||46.5|
Early season forecast
Slow starts are nothing new to the Belichick-coached Patriots, who have stumbled out of the gate for NFL bettors — especially when compared against the overall ATS success of the organization. Since 2000, New England is 43-19 SU (69%) and 33-29 ATS (53%) in the first three weeks of the schedule. Not bad, but not great considering those teams went 201-73 SU (73%) and 159-108-7 ATS (59%) from Week 4 to Week 17.
The 2021 campaign kicks off at home hosting the Dolphins as 2.5-point chalk for a 4:25 p.m. ET start. This spread has dropped to -2 at some sportsbooks with early play on the visitor. These AFC East rivals clashed in last year’s opener, with New England winning 21-11 as a 7.5-point favorite in Foxborough and the home side has been the smart bet between these teams, with hosts going 16-5 ATS in their last 21 meetings.
The first road game of the year takes the Pats to the Meadowlands for run-in with the new-look Jets. New England is giving the half-point hook on the field goal and the 42.5-point total is the shortest Over/Under on their slate. The Patriots and Jets topped the total in both meetings last year and have gone 14-9 O/U (61% Overs) since 2010.
Week 3 has New England handing a single point to the visiting Saints for a 1 p.m. ET non-conference matchup. Last year’s squad was just 1-3 SU and ATS versus NFC foes — a contrast in success to the Brady-led Pats, who boasted a 67-18 SU record and 51-33-1 ATS count in non-conference competition. A primetime date with Brady and the Buccaneers in Week 4 hangs heavy over this game.
Week 11 @ Atlanta (+1.5)
Get all those 28-3 jokes out now because this schedule spot is no laughing matter if you’re backing the Pats. The Week 11 trip to Atlanta is the Patriots’ third road game in four weeks and comes on a short turnaround, being played on Thursday Night Football.
This non-conference road trip is stuffed between key AFC contests versus Cleveland in Week 10 and Tennessee in Week 12 — two teams that will be jockeying with the Patriots for a postseason position. New England doesn’t have a bye until Week 14, so it’ll be feeling the burn on November 18.
That said, the Falcons have deep-rooted issues against AFC foes, going 17-28 ATS (38%) in non-conference clashes since 2010. So, maybe crack a few Super Bowl LI zingers.
Without Tom Terrific making throws, the 2020 Patriots finished just 5-11 Over/Under on the year, playing below the total in seven of their final eight games. New England also wrapped 2-6 O/U inside Gillette Stadium.
The offense added some much-need weapons but is still not a threat to put up big strikes. The defense will be much improved over last year’s chaotic rollout, so there’s a solid shot of more Under paydays on the way in 2021. Books are on the same wavelength, pegging the Pats with some tiny totals.
New England’s lookahead lines have four numbers of 45 points or lower on the board. The 2020 NFL season produced an overall 35-41 O/U count for those short totals (54%), with the Patriots contributing a 4-6 O/U count to that record (60%).
Star power props: Nelson Agholor, WR
|Player prop||Odds to win|
|Receiving Yards Leader||+15,000|
|Receiving Yards Total||685.5 (Over -115)|
|Receiving TD Total||4 (Over -115)|
Best prop: Under 4 touchdowns (-115)
Well, "star power" is a very loose term here — as of right now, there's no other consistent Patriots player prop offerings available.
Agholor gets a drastic downshift in gears, coming from the high-octane Raiders attack to the plodding pace of the Patriots. He had a career year in Las Vegas in 2020, reeling in 48 balls for 896 yards and eight touchdowns. Books are cutting that TD total in half this season.
In the pro seasons in which Agholor played all 16 games — and there’s only been three — he’s scored at least four touchdowns. However, he’s playing with his third QB (and maybe fourth if Jones gets some run) and third different playbook in three seasons. He’ll jockey for red-zone looks with two capable TEs and the Pats’ always-active pass-catching RBs.
Trend to know
The Patriots were pegged as home underdogs three times in 2020 — something that had happened just 13 times prior under Belichick’s watch. New England turned around a 2-1 ATS mark in those 2020 games as a home pup and is 12-4 ATS when catching points in Foxborough since 2000. The Pats are once again set as home underdogs in three contests this season.
Patriots as home underdogs
- Week 4: +3.5 vs. Buccaneers
- Week 10: +2 vs. Browns
- Week 16: +3.5 vs. Bills
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