Will Patriots make 2020 NFL playoffs? Here are oddsmakers' latest betting lines

Will Patriots make 2020 NFL playoffs? Here are oddsmakers' latest betting lines

The NFL officially changed its playoff format Tuesday, which, among other tweaks, will add a third wild card team to both conferences.

The extra playoff spot will give more teams a chance to play meaningful January football, which should create plenty of excitement over the final weeks of the regular season. One team that could be in the mix for one of those wild card spots is the New England Patriots.

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The Patriots are about to enter a new era. Longtime quarterback Tom Brady, who spent the last 20 years and won six Super Bowl championships with the Patriots, left the franchise to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency. New England also lost several important defensive players in free agency, including linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins. 

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The Patriots missed the playoffs in only one season (2002) during which Brady played more than one game. New England reached the postseason 17 times with Brady overall, and it was the AFC East winner in each of those years. In fact, the Patriots haven't entered the playoffs via a wild card berth since 1998.

Will the Patriots make the playoffs next season? Oddsmakers are giving them a pretty good chance.

DraftKings Sportsbook has odds to make the playoffs for all 32 teams. Here are the Patriots odds: Yes (-200), No (+165)

DK doesn't have odds for which teams will make the playoffs in a wild card spot, but it does offer odds on the division winners. The Patriots, despite losing Brady and other key players in free agency, still are the betting favorites to win the AFC East at +100 odds. The Buffalo Bills are closely behind at +160, followed by the New York Jets (+750) and Miami Dolphins (+900).

The Patriots' ability to return to the playoffs likely will depend on the play of second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who is the favorite to win the starting job. A lot of talent remains on the Patriots roster, but there still are a several areas that need upgrading. Luckily for the Patriots, they own 12 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, which will help head coach Bill Belichick surround Stidham with more talent and add youth to the defense

Raiders QB Derek Carr to face Patriots early in what could be bounce-back season

Raiders QB Derek Carr to face Patriots early in what could be bounce-back season

Editor’s note: In the coming weeks our Patriots insiders will be speaking with beat writers from around the NFL to get an outside view on what the future holds for the Patriots. Today’s team: The Las Vegas Raiders with Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area.

The Las Vegas Raiders reportedly were among the teams with some level of interest in signing Tom Brady in NFL free agency, but the Silver and Black ultimately decided to stick with Derek Carr as its starting quarterback.

Carr shouldn't be too comfortable, though.

Despite making the most of a tough situation in 2019 during which the Raiders lacked skill and depth at many offensive positions, Carr's job doesn't appear to be safe. For example, the Raiders signed veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota in free agency, and he has several seasons of starting experience.

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NBC Sports Bay Area's Raiders insider Scott Bair recently spoke to our Patriots insider Phil Perry, and one of the topics centered around Carr's future and if he can once again perform at the level of a top-tier quarterback.

"Actions speak louder than words, and (head coach) Jon Gruden and (general manager) Mike Mayock at the combine and all these different places, they say the right things -- Derek Carr is their guy," Bair said. "But then, they're constantly flirting with Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, and they sign Marcus Mariota to a deal that could evolve into paying him starter money should he take over that job. Those actions don't say (Carr is their guy).

"I've seen every professional snap that Derek Carr has ever taken. I've seen every practice rep that I've been allowed to see, and I may be in the minority, but this is a guy I believe can be an upper-tier NFL quarterback. He can make every throw, and if you go back to 2016 when he had a loaded offensive line and lots of good skill players, he finished third in MVP voting despite the fact he broke his leg in Week 16. I know that's in there. Now, Raiders fans don't believe me, the national media doesn't believe me, but I think the stage is set for him to have a career year and find that 2016 form yet again, that most fans think is lost forever."

One defense Carr will go up against in 2020 is the New England Patriots.

The Raiders are scheduled to visit Gillette Stadium on Sept. 27 for a Week 3 matchup, and they currently are underdogs by almost a touchdown, according to oddsmakers. Bair thinks the matchup is closer than the betting lines would suggest.

"I would definitely hammer the Raiders pretty hard right there," Bair said. "I just think they're going to have a lot of explosive firepower, and when there's uncertainty at quarterback, (the more explosive team) seems to be a safer bet. Maybe you know better than I do exactly how (the Patriots') quarterback situation is shaping up, but if there are major questions marks there, I would go with the more established quarterback, the more established offense. Again, (the Raiders) are going to be able to score in bunches, and I think they're going to be pretty excited to come to Foxboro and finally get a win, even if Brady isn't there."

The Raiders and Patriots both face a bit of uncertainty at quarterback entering the 2020 season, and whichever coach is able to surround his young QB with the best system and the right talent will put his team in a strong position to reach the playoffs. The Patriots haven't missed the postseason since 2008, while the Raiders have made only one appearance since 2002.

If Brian Hoyer starts for Patriots in Week 1, that's absolutely crazy

If Brian Hoyer starts for Patriots in Week 1, that's absolutely crazy

Rob Ninkovich sounded drunkovich when he spoke of Brian Hoyer starting Week 1 for the Patriots.

Get that man a breathalyzer. Stat.

And if Nink turns out to be right, get Bill Belichick one too. 

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I have said this before — and I will say it again: I will not watch one down of Brian Hoyer under center for the Patriots.

And you shouldn’t either!

Don’t be a sucker. Really, you’re going to waste your time watching a guy who has started 25 games in 11 seasons in the NFL?

He may be a nice guy, good at carrying a clipboard and ridding Tom Brady of his insecurities, but he is a lousy quarterback. Patriot fans deserve better.

Going from Tom Brady to Brian Hoyer is cold turkey to the extreme. I can feel the cotton mouth, cold sweats and shakes coming on already. 

Does Bill Belichick expect you to accept Brian Hoyer as a starter? If he does, it should piss you off. 

If Hoyer does get the call you can still watch some of the game. I plan to. When the Patriots are on offense I will switch to the other game or Red Zone, and when I see on my phone that the Pats are back on defense, I will switch back over and watch Gilmore, Hightower and the McCourtys do their thing. 

That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.