Prior to the start of this NFL season, oddsmakers had the New England Patriots as underdogs in only a single game. Based on the team’s performance in the season opener, as well as the addition of superstar receiver Antonio Brown to the Patriot’s lineup, New England becomes ever more likely to run the table in 2019 the way it did 2007. The team lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl that year.
When CG Technology, one of the largest bookmakers in Las Vegas, released its forecast for the NFL season, according to NBC Sports, “The lone game in which New England is an underdog is a Week 11 matchup on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles.” The Eagles, at that time, were favored by one point.
Philadelphia nearly lost its first game against the Washington Redskins. Recently, oddsmakers named the Redskins as one of the four teams least likely to reach the Super Bowl this year, slightly ahead of the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills. The same oddsmakers have the Patriots the most likely team to take Super Bowl 54.
Philadelphia needed a furious rally to come from 17 points behind the Redskins and win 32 to 27. Philadelphia’s two star running backs each ran for under 20 yards.
On the other hand, Pittsburgh is still considered one of the NFL’s elite teams, and oddsmakers generally put it in the top 11 or 12 teams likely to take home the Lombardi Trophy. The Patriots dismantled them in the first game of the season, by a score of 33 to 3. It was not just a testament to Tom Brady’s enduring skill and the strength of the offense. The defense held elite quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his teammates to one field goal
The Patriots have added a star wide receiver in Antonio Brown. If he behaves, which was a problem at his prior two teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders, he could be the best receiver Brady has had since Randy Moss, who was just selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At 31, Brown already has remarkable statistics. In his career, he has 837 receptions for 11,207 yards and 74 receiving touchdowns. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has a habit of turning troublemakers into huge contributors.
Will the Patriots go undefeated? It looks a lot more like that after Week 1 results and the Brown pickup.