Patriots

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

NFL rumors: Salary details of Cam Newton's Patriots contract revealed

NFL rumors: Salary details of Cam Newton's Patriots contract revealed

The New England Patriots aren't spending a whole lot of money to bring Cam Newton to Foxboro.

Reports surfaced Sunday night that the Patriots and the veteran quarterback had agreed to a one-year, incentive-laden contract worth up to $7.5 million. 

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Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported Wednesday the financial breakdown of Newton's contract with the Patriots, including the base salary, guaranteed money and incentive totals.

The Patriots didn't have much salary cap space before this move. In fact, they recently had the lowest amount of available cap space in the entire league. So, for them to be able to acquire Newton and not have to spend a ton of money or cap space is pretty extraordinary.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Newton's contract is that the Patriots could franchise tag the 31-year-old quarterback next offseason. It gives New England more options in the event Newton has a strong 2020 season.

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There's not a ton of risk with this move, and it could end up being one of the best roster additions of Bill Belichick's 20-year tenure in New England if Newton is able to stay healthy.

Newton is a former league MVP (2015) and has been one of the most exciting quarterbacks to watch throughout his nine-year career. The last time he played close to a full season was 2018, when the former No. 1 overall draft pick threw for 3,395 yards with 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Newton also ran for 488 yards and scored four rushing touchdowns in those 14 games.

If he produces similar or better statistics in 2020, the Patriots should have a strong chance to extend their playoff appearance streak to 12 seasons.

NFL rumors: Week 1 and Week 4 of 2020 preseason schedule to be eliminated

NFL rumors: Week 1 and Week 4 of 2020 preseason schedule to be eliminated

The NFL preseason could feature half as many games as we're accustomed to seeing.

ProFootballTalk reported Wednesday that Week 1 and Week 4 of the 2020 preseason will be eliminated.

Here's an explanation from PFT's Mike Florio:

The move was driven by two primary factors. First, teams who will be playing preseason games on the road won’t want to move that many people. Second, given that no teams had on-field practice sessions in the offseason, coaches would rather have the extra time to work with their teams, and that will happen if they don’t have to worry about two extra preseason games.

The NFLPA has yet to sign off on these moves, according to NFL Media's Mike Garafolo:

These cuts make a lot of sense as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the United States and the rest of the world. The pandemic has forced all offseason activities so far to be held virtually. Training camps are scheduled to begin July 28, and the league announced earlier this week that it's sticking to that date

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What would these preseason changes mean for the New England Patriots? It's not yet known if teams will just play their Week 2 and Week 3 preseason games, or if any opponents and/or dates will also be changed.

Here's the Patriots' original preseason schedule that was announced a few weeks ago:

  • Thursday, August 8 at Lions, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 17 at Titans, 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 22 vs. Panthers, 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 29 vs. Giants, 7:30 p.m.

The most intriguing matchup on the Patriots' preseason schedule is with the Panthers, especially after New England reportedly agreed to sign former Carolina quarterback Cam Newton

Newton spent nine seasons with the Panthers before being released in March. He was a free agent for several months before finally landing in New England. This preseason matchup would be Newton's first time playing against the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2011.

It sounds like both the league and NFLPA still have some things to work out regarding the preseason. In any event, playing the full four-game schedule doesn't make a ton of sense given the current COVID-19 situation.