When it was announced that the Patriots would start the season without their franchise quarterback Tom Brady, who was suspended for the first four games of the season, online NFL betting odds didn’t favor the Patriots because they were expected to go 2-2 at best without Brady. However, the team responded to the adversity they faced, and finished 3-1 without Brady in the lineup.
With the four-game suspension over, Brady is going to return to the team on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. In their first three games without Brady, the Patriots went on the road and defeated the Arizona Cardinals, who were one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl entering the season.
Two weeks after defeating the Cardinals, the Patriots handed the then undefeated Houston Texans their first loss of the season. The Patriots had a chance to start the season 4-0 without Brady, but fell flat against the Buffalo Bills, losing 16-0.
Even though the Patriots lost to the Bills, you have to remember that they had their third string quarterback under center, and some injuries to key players, which handicapped them. After the game, Bills coach Rex Ryan acknowledged that his team beat a depleted Patriots team, and he expects them to try to avenge the loss when they play later in the season.
Despite the loss, the Patriots look like the best team in the NFL right now, and will only get better with their veteran leader back in the lineup, which is a scary thought for the rest of the league. The team scored 81 points in their first four games of the year, despite not scoring on Sunday.
The 81 points the team scored is more points than 13 other teams have scored this season. The Patriots have done all this with Jacoby Brissett playing 10 quarters and Jimmy Garoppolo playing six. The offense also hasn’t gotten any help from Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has only one catch this season.
Gronkowski was forced to miss the first game because of an injury, and even though he is back in the lineup, it is pretty obvious that he isn’t fully healthy. Since the quarterbacks that have started for the Patriots had very little playing time before the season began, they don’t have the same rapport with Gronkowski that Brady has, which is one of the reasons they haven’t been able to utilize him very well.
With Brady back in the lineup, expect Gronkowski’s number to improve significantly, which will make the offense even scarier than it has been so far.
Last season, the Patriots jumped out to a 10-0 start before key players like Gronkowski, Nate Solder, Julian Edelman, and Dion Lewis took their toll. The team won only two of its final six games, and lost to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game.
This year, the Patriots started off with injuries to some key players, but those players are expected to return to the lineup soon, which will make the team very difficult to defeat.
With Brady returning with a chip on his shoulders, and his teammates getting g healthy, don’t be surprised to see New England back in the Super Bowl this year.