How Will Patriots Fare During Tom Brady’s 4-Game Ban?
Ban on! In the spirit of Wayne and Garth playing hockey in the middle of the street, we jokingly look ahead to the 2016 NFL season and imagine what life is scheduled to be like for the Tom Brady-less New England Patriots.
Brady and co. won the battle a year ago by working their way past a league-induced four-game suspension for the star quarterback’s role in #deflategate, but will finally be forced to succumb to the original ruling.
Per reports, the U.S. Appeals Court has reversed the decision, reinstating the four-game ban issued to Brady last year. Brady will now officially miss the first four games of the 2016 NFL regular season, with backup passer Jimmy Garappolo stepping in as the starter.
BREAKING: US Appeals court reinstates New England Patriots’ Tom Brady’s suspension over ‘deflategate’ – Reuters
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) April 25, 2016
Big news, indeed. Brady will likely keep fighting in the court room until all options are exhausted, but it looks like this will stick. With that in mind, NFL bettors will probably want to get a head start on the first four weeks and try to map out New England’s success to start the year.
New England could potentially have a rough start to 2016, as they begin the season on the road in the desert against the Arizona Cardinals, face a good Houston Texans team in week three and have that contest sandwiched between two huge divisional clashes in weeks two and four against the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills.
On the road in week one without their start quarterback and facing Chandler Jones – who they traded to Arizona this off-season, the Pats could be strong candidates to lose and start the year off at 0-1. It’s not easy to win on the road, much less against a very good team that is as balanced as Arizona, not to mention without your star quarterback.
The next three weeks could be a little more survivable just because New England catches a huge break with three straight home contests at Foxboro. That doesn’t make dates with Miami, Houston or Buffalo any easier, but it does give the Pats a mild edge on paper.
Miami and Buffalo also weren’t playoff teams a year ago, while the trio failed to win even 10 games in 2015. All three, however, have undergone big enough changes to warrant reasonable speculation that they could be quite improved n 2016.
It’s unlikely the Patriots start off 0-4 in 2016 without Brady, but this is not going to be an easy stretch. Garoppolo at best was inconsistent in the preseason last year and it certainly remains to be seen if he can handle the pressure of carrying the team. It’s also worth wondering if the Pats have the ground game or defense to withstand Garoppolo not performing well, should his play trend in a negative direction.
Suffice to say, New England could be in some trouble to get 2016 going and they may not be the best bet from week to week until Brady returns. That being said, their opponents on paper (after the Cardinals) are not ridiculously scary, and playing three of four games at home to start the regular season could easily end up being a huge benefit.
The other question is if a rough start without Brady could sink the Patriots early and make them shaky Super Bowl bets. The Pats won it all two seasons ago and last year made it back to the AFC title game for a 10th time in Brady’s career, but if they get off to a rocky start, just how damaged could their path to Super Bowl 51 be?
It can’t be helpful. Right now the Patriots are the odds on favorites to win it all in 2016 (6/1 Super Bowl odds), and it’s hard to argue against the logic. Think about it – a failed two-point conversion is the only reason they didn’t take the Super Bowl champion Broncos to overtime in the AFC title game and now that Denver team doesn’t even have a quarterback.
If Denver falters even a little bit in the post-Peyton Manning era, they will regress and suddenly New England is very much the class of the AFC.
The only other obvious threats are in the NFC, where quality teams like the Green Bay Packers, the aforementioned Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks and of course the Carolina Panthers could await on the other side.
Only one of those NFC squads can make it to the promised land, though, so the Patriots really only have to concern themselves with one (Green Bay has the next best odds – 10/1).
Judging by the field, the Patriots have a really good chance to thwart off any potential slow start and make another coined deep playoff run. Their odds should certainly drop with this news, though, and if Brady’s absence turns into a house of horrors, we may all need to re-think who our favorite in the AFC is.
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