UNITED STATES—July is coming to a close, which puts us just a couple of short weeks away from preseason football.
I had to read my statement a couple of times over and then pinch myself. Football is almost here! Let’s look at the New England Patriots preseason schedule and determine if there are any games worth backing the Pats on the NFL odds boards.
New England at Detroit
Week 1 of preseason play shows the Patriots heading over to the new stomping grounds of former defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia. The Lions are a team in a weird rebuild mode. They have Stafford and a handful of talent, yet, they need to find pieces of the puzzle to get them winning again.
Preseason ball doesn’t matter, but Bill loves to win in Week 1. Over the last 20 seasons, Belichick is 13-7 in the first week of preseason. On the flip-side, Matt Patricia is 0-1. Admittedly, the sample size is too small to be meaningful. But we do know that Patricia has more to ‘work out’ with his team. So it is likely that he will be pushing tools around the board to test strengths and weaknesses. Belichick, on the other hand, has his system and team – despite some recent losses to personnel– well in place, and knowing Bill, will bring it to his former assistant.
The New England Patriots will move to 14-7 in Week 1 preseason play. So, backing them should be profitable.
New England at Tennessee
Bill loves a strong opening. Weeks 1 and 2 during the preseason seem to be the games he likes to win. After that, in Weeks 3 and 4, he only half-way cares. This year, Week 2 will be at the Tennessee Titans, and Bill Belichick will be facing his former star linebacker, Mike Vrabel. It’s only Vrabel’s second season as head coach, so again, the sample size is an issue. But what we saw last year was that Vrabel cares not for preseason wins. In fact, he went 0-4 through August.
Bill is 11-8 during the second week of preseason. Last year he beat up on the Eagles. 2017 was a close loss to the Texans, but in 2016 Belichick beat the Bears, and in 2015 he beat the Saints. Most of the losses during Week 2 came earlier in his career. Belichick has settled into a habit in the 2010s of walking away with a preseason win during the second week of August. In a lot of ways, I’m more confident that the Pats will win in Week 2 than Week 1, despite the better record.
Carolina at New England
Week 3 is a crapshoot. Ron Rivera is 4-4 in Week 3 and Bill is 9-9. So, we probably don’t want to be laying any of our hard-earned cash down on this one. Though this will be a fun game to watch as we see some of the starters take up game time.
New York Giants at New England
Week 4 gets even tougher because both head coaches have losing records in this instance. Pat Shurmur is 0-3 during the last dress rehearsal of the preseason and Belichick is 8-11. That said, Bill played against Shurmur in New England in Preseason Week 4 last year and took a 17-12 victory, so maybe he’ll do it again. However, it’s not enough for me to bank on, so I’m sticking with the first two weeks of play for my preseason Patriots predictions.