Super Bowl XLVII Dossier: New England Patriots

Tom Brady hasn’t won a Super Bowl in nearly eight years. Must be frustrating. But Brady and the New England Patriots are back in the title hunt, tied as second favorites on Bovada’s Super Bowl odds list at 11-2.

The Patriots are the closest thing the NFL has to a dynasty. They began life as the Boston Patriots in the AFL and had occasional bouts of success before reaching Super Bowl XX, where they played comic relief to the Chicago Bears (–10) in a 46-10 drubbing. Then the Patriots drafted Drew Bledsoe at quarterback and made it to Super Bowl XXXI, only to lose 35-21 to the Green Bay Packers (–14).

It wasn’t until Bledsoe got injured at the start of the 2001 season that New England reached the very top of the mountain. Brady was the team’s sixth-round draft pick in 2000 and wasn’t tabbed for greatness, but he took over for Bledsoe and led the Patriots all the way to Super Bowl XXXVI, where they shocked the former champion St. Louis Rams. A phenomenon was born.

Brady and the Patriots have been to four Super Bowls since then, winning the first two, but they weren’t able to beat the spread in any of those games. That’s partly because the Patriots have become the most popular NFL team in the world, and great expectations have been put on their shoulders. It’s also because the New York Giants have ruined their seasons twice in the last five years.

XLVI: New York Giants (+2.5) 21, New England Patriots 17 (UNDER 53)
XLII: New York Giants (+12) 17, New England Patriots 14 (UNDER 55)
XXXIX: New England Patriots (–7) 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21 (UNDER 46.5)
XXXVIII: New England Patriots (–7) 32, Carolina Panthers 29 (OVER 37.5)
XXXVI: New England Patriots (+14) 20, St. Louis Rams 17 (UNDER 53)

You can’t win ‘em all. But the Patriots are in good position to give Brady a record-breaking sixth crack at a Super Bowl ring. They were 7-3 (6-4 ATS) going into Week 12, good enough for a three-game lead in the AFC East Division with six games remaining. It’s a near-certainty the Pats will at least make the playoffs for the 10th time in Brady’s 11 full seasons as their starter.

Of course, the Patriots aren’t all about Brady. They have one of the best coaching minds ever to don a headset in Bill Belichick. They have a strong group of targets in front of Brady, including star tight end Rob Gronkowski, although he’s out for a month with a broken forearm. As is often the case, the Patriots have the highest-ranked offense in the league (431.9 yards per game) thanks to all this talent.

Defense is typically more of a concern in New England, allowing enough points (22.5 per game, ranking No. 16 out of the 32 NFL teams) this year for the OVER to cash in with an 8-2 record. But as long as Brady is in his prime, the Patriots will be in the Super Bowl betting spotlight.