The 2017 NFL season will kick off Thursday night when the Kansas City Chiefs travel to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts to take on the defending Super Bowl champs. The game will kick off at 8:30 PM. ET.
Before the game, the Patriots will unveil their fifth Super Bowl banner. On their way to title five, the Brady and Belichick tandem overcame a tumultuous 2016 season.
Now, Brady at the ripe-old-age of 40, is stepping out into uncharted waters. Few quarterbacks have played at such a high level into their 40s, let alone past that threshold. As unusual as this is, the Patriots aren’t holding back. Despite the fact that Brady is nearing his foreseeable end and their backup quarterback, Jimmy Garoppollo, is on the final year of his rookie contract, the Patriots traded their third string quarterback, Jacoby Brissett to the Colts for Phillip Dorsett.
Brissett, a rookie in 2016, started two games in the place of an injured Jimmy G and a suspended Brady. Brissett likely wouldn’t see the field this year, but his unexpected starts last season demonstrate the importance of building depth while constructing a 53-man roster. On the other end of this deal, Dorsett will look to help fill the void on special teams left by Julian Edelman. Outside of Edelman, Danny Amendola is the only player on the Patriots that has significant experience in the return game. Amendola has a history of injuries and his usage on specials teams and on offense is worth monitoring.
The Patriots are known for emphasizing execution on all three aspects of the game. But last year, the Patriots special teams were abysmal. According to NFL Stats, the Patriots averaged 18.7 yards per kick return. The Patriots committed the most fumbles on special teams with 9 (3 on kick returns and 7 on punt returns). The Dorsett acquisition should help the Patriots in the long run as a returner, but in the short term, the Patriots have Amendola and Dion Lewis, and that’s about it. The Patriots haven’t done much else to address this weakness and this should be something worth monitoring this week and throughout the season.
Last season, the Patriots were above average in terms of defending the pass. According to NFL Stats, the Patriots ranked 12 and allowed an average of 238 yards per game. The biggest threat the Patriots face on defense is Tyreek Hill. The speedy wide-receiver should prove extremely difficult to cover. Malcolm Butler will most likely draw the assignment in man-to-man coverage. However, Belichick and company like to take away an opponents’ top threat, so don’t be surprised if Hill receives a lot of double coverage.
This matchup will feature two of the NFL’s best tight-ends in Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce. Gronkowski is coming off a 2016 campaign that lasted only eight contests. With a loaded Patriots offense, the often injured tight-end will likely be used sparingly. But, it’s hard to stop the Gronk-train when it’s running at full speed. As much as the Patriots try to shield their freakish tight-end from injury, the NFL is a brutal league and injuries are hard to guard against, just look at Julian Edelman.
The Chiefs all-pro tight-end, Travis Kelce will likely battle Gronkowski for the moniker of best tight-end in the league; and, he’s well on his way to doing just that. Kelce has consistently improved upon his numbers each year. While Kelce might not enjoy the nickname, “Baby Gronk” it certainly speaks volumes about how the league views his potential.
Patriots Vs Chiefs Betting Lines
The Patriots are a strong -8.5-point favorite coming into the contest, and that number seems about right. While the Foxborough faithful might get caught up in the pregame pageantry, the Patriots focus will be on this season, and this opponent. Bill Belichick moved on from last season’s Super Bowl win long before the league year even began, and you can bet that Brady and Company are hungry for that next ring. Expect the Chiefs to break off some big plays, but overall the Patriots defense will keep them in-check. Go with the Patriots to cover the spread.
Play: Patriots -8.5 @ BetOnline.ag