Be prepared to watch a .500 team in New England this season.
That statement would have been laughably inaccurate for most of the last two decades. But many believe the Patriots will be average at best after Tom Brady bolted to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In fact, one sportsbook is banking on that result.
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Caesars Sportsbook released its NFL win totals Thursday and has the Patriots set at 8.5 wins in 2020. That's the Patriots' lowest opening win total in Vegas since 2003 and the lowest number of any sportsbook across the board: William Hill pegs New England at nine wins in 2020, while DraftKings Sportsbook has the team at 9.5 wins.
Care to explain, Caesars?
"My raw number on the Patriots is less than eight [wins]," Caesars head oddsmaker Jeff Davis told ESPN. "Outside of the secondary, which is one of the best in the league, the rest of their roster I think is one of the worst in the NFL."
That's a hot take, but it's not far-fetched. Current starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who attempted four passes last season, has a skeleton wide receiver crew (for now) outside Julian Edelman and no quality tight ends to speak of. (Sorry, Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo.)
The Patriots boasted the NFL's best defense in 2019 but lost Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Duron Harmon (among others) this offseason. They don't even have a kicker right now after releasing Stephen Gostkowski.
So, while some oddsmakers still have New England (barely) winning the AFC East, Davis has the Buffalo Bills as the division favorites at +100.
"I'm just not buying this team at all," Davis said of the Patriots. "This team will show just how good (Bill) Belichick and his staff are, compared to some of the other staffs. This might be the year that reality sets in with New England."
Of course, Belichick is the X-factor who could make Davis eat his words. The greatest coach of all time hasn't finished worse than 9-7 in New England since 2000 and still has the 2020 NFL Draft to improve his roster.
Oh, and that 2003 season? The Patriots went 14-2 and won the Super Bowl.