Last season the New England Patriots failed to make the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2008 and saw their 11-year streak of winning the AFC East division end.
After an aggressive offseason that saw the team spend huge money in free agency, make a couple trades and select Alabama star quarterback Mac Jones in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, many experts are expecting better results from the Patriots this coming season.
With less than a month remaining until the Patriots host the rival Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium in Week 1 of the regular season, it's a good time to look at the updated season win totals for each team.
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The number for the Patriots is higher than you might think.
Here's the latest season win total number and betting lines for the Patriots ahead of the new 2021 campaign -- odds provided by our partner, PointsBet Sportsbook.
- Over 9.5 wins: -120 odds
- Under 9.5 wins: +100
So, the Patriots are favored to go OVER 9.5 wins this season. Remember, the league added a 17th game to the regular season schedule beginning in 2021.
Overall, the Patriots' schedule is not as hard as it has been in years past. They are playing a third-place schedule after finishing third in the division last season. Ten of New England's 17 games are against teams that didn't make the playoffs in 2020.
If the Patriots are going to tally more than nine wins, they'll need to take advantage of the first nine games. New England plays just two playoff teams from 2020 -- the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints -- over that span. The toughest games in that stretch are against the Bucs, Saints, Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys. All four of those matchups are at home.
Aside from the schedule, the increase in talent and depth on the roster should also help the Patriots go over 9.5 wins.
The Patriots had a very effective rushing attack last season, and that part of the offense should remain a strength given the talent level on the offensive line and running back depth charts. Third-year running back Damien Harris is poised for a breakout year.
The defense also has the potential to be a top 10 unit. The offseason acquisitions of linebacker Matthew Judon, linebacker Kyle Van Noy, defensive lineman Davon Godchaux, defensive back Jalen Mills and others have addressed positional weaknesses from last year's roster. Veteran linebacker Dont'a Hightower opted out of last season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and he's back this year to lead the defense.
But, as is often the case, the success of the team likely will come down to quarterback performance. The Patriots ranked at or near the bottom of the league in several passing statistics last season, which was Cam Newton's first in New England. Newton and Jones are currently battling for the starting QB job in camp and the preseason. A bounce-back year from Newton or a strong rookie campaign from Jones would obviously go a long way in helping the Pats go over 9.5 wins.
After one of the most aggressive offseasons in team history, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Patriots have a major bounce-back in 2021 and return to the playoffs. Anywhere from 9-12 wins is a realistic goal for this team.