Patriots

Highest graded Patriots from Week 1 of NFL preseason

Highest graded Patriots from Week 1 of NFL preseason

It's hard to imagine a better start to the preseason than what the Patriots experienced in their first matchup with the Lions Thursday night. A 31-3 victory, no major injuries as of yet, and plenty of experience to develop potential future building blocks. 

As you can imagine, a game like that produces some high grades from places like Pro Football Focus. Here's a look at their highest graded offensive players for the Patriots in Week 1 of preseason.

1. BRIAN HOYER: 88.3

Hoyer had a very efficient performance against the Lions. He wasn't in for long, but he completed 12 of his 14 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. A good sign for the Pats quarterback depth going into Tom Brady's age-42 season.

2. JARRETT STIDHAM: 84.8

Stidham impressed in his first game at the professional level, completing 14-of-24 throws for 179 yards and one touchdown. Phil Perry goes deeper into Stidham's performance against the Lions here

3. BRANDON BOLDEN: 83.9

Bolden was featured heavily early on in this game, finishing with 12 carries for 41 yards and two receptions for 19 yards. Bolden has mostly been utilized as a special-teamer in his Patriots career, but maybe he's in line for more of a role on offense. 

4. DONTRELLE INMAN: 78.2

Inman only caught two passes for 23 yards, but he must have done something right to earn a higher grade than Maurice Harris and Jakobi Meyers. 

5. MATT LACOSSE: 76.5

LaCosse exited the game with an injury, but not before he caught two balls for 37 yards. He must've been solid in the run game to earn a grade this high, which is a good sign for a Patriots team trying to replace an elite blocking tight end in Rob Gronkowski. 

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Why do Patriots still have (relatively) strong Super Bowl odds? Sportsbooks explain

Why do Patriots still have (relatively) strong Super Bowl odds? Sportsbooks explain

We have a new arena for the Bill Belichick vs. Tom Brady debate: Las Vegas.

With Brady leaving the Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 20 seasons, sportsbooks are wrestling over whether New England is still a contender without the greatest quarterback of all time.

But several betting outlets are surprisingly bullish on the 2020 Patriots while setting their Super Bowl LV odds, for one obvious reason: New England still employs the greatest head coach of all time.

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"If this were any other team, we'd probably just adjust them up to 100-1," Matt Metcalf, the sportsbook director for Las Vegas bookmaker Circa Sports, told ESPN's David Purdum. "But with Belichick, you can't do that."

Instead, the Patriots are listed at 20-1 to win Super Bowl LV at many sportsbooks -- the same odds they had to win Super Bowl LIV entering last season's playoffs, according to Purdum.

Ironically, Brady's Bucs also have 20-1 odds to win Super Bowl LV at Caesar's Sportsbook. But should a talent-deficient Patriots team really be on the same level as a loaded Tampa Bay squad led by a six-time Super Bowl champion?

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Caesars director of trading Jeff Davis also cited Belichick in his rationale.

"It's hard to say," Davis told Purdum, "But is there anyone who's done more with less than Belichick? I'd say, no."

Interestingly, Purdum cites two more reasons why sportsbooks haven't dropped the Patriots' odds more: 1) They still play in the mediocre AFC East; and 2) they still could sign a "high-profile" quarterback like Cam Newton, Jameis Winston or Andy Dalton.

Our Tom E. Curran has reported that second option is unlikely, but even if Belichick rolls into 2020 with Jarrett Stidham, sportsbooks are wary of writing the Patriots off.

Ex-Patriots scout gives interesting details on Bill Belichick's NFL Draft grading scale

Ex-Patriots scout gives interesting details on Bill Belichick's NFL Draft grading scale

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, despite some recent struggles, has enjoyed a ton of success selecting players in the NFL Draft.

Just a few days ago, Hall of Fame general manager Gil Brandt tweeted Belichick is the best drafter of his lifetime. Brandt is 87 years old, so he's seen plenty of drafts.

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Former Patriots scout and current Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy in a few tweets Wednesday provided some interesting information on how Belichick and his staff grade prospects entering the draft. One example he used was based on evaluating cornerbacks. 

Check out Nagy's explanation below:

The Patriots' ability to contend in the AFC in 2020 could hinge on their success in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, which is still scheduled to begin April 23 despite the outbreak of the coronavirus.

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New England has lost several key players on both sides of the ball through free agency and trades over the last few weeks.

The most notable departure, of course, was quarterback Tom Brady, who took his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent after spending 20 seasons and winning six Super Bowl titles with the Patriots. The Pats have lost a bunch of important defensive players, too, including linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy, as well as safety Duron Harmon. Special teams also has taken a hit with the losses of safety Nate Ebner and longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

Filling this holes won't be easy, but luckily for the Patriots, they have 12 picks in the 2020 draft. These picks include No. 23 overall in the first round and three selections in the third round. Only the Miami Dolphins (14) have more picks than the Patriots.

Another positive for the Patriots is many of the top players in the 2020 draft class are wide receivers or defensive players -- two areas of need for New England. In fact, it's possible we see more than half of the first-round picks used on defensive players, and many recent expert mock drafts predict Belichick will target that side of the ball with the 23rd overall selection.