The New England Patriots finished with a record of 7-9 in 2020, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008. In the first season of the post-Tom Brady era the Patriots disappointed with Cam Newton struggling at quarterback. A lack of weapons was another big reason why New England looked largely abysmal on offense. A number of opt-outs, particularly on defense, did not help either. Although there seemed to be an outside chance of the Patriots possibly making the playoffs at various points of the season, they were truthfully in a dire situation throughout most of the season.
Reasons to Buy
The Patriots are currently at $44.15 on the simbull market, putting them in the middle of the pack. This seems about fair considering what we saw from them last season and what the expectations are for this year. In my opinion, there is reason for excitement regarding this Patriots team heading into the 2021 season. Bill Belichick is still the coach of New England after all and there was no way he was going to be ok with last year’s losing season. That was proven this offseason as he proved that he was devoted to reshaping the roster in a significant way. Belichick made multiple big free-agent signings including Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Boune, Nelson Agholor, Kyle Van Noy and Matthew Judon. All of these additions are notable upgrades on both sides of the ball and will make the team better. The Patriots will also have Dont’a Hightower back after he opted out last season. Hightower’s return will result in the presence of a veteran leader and a key player on the defensive side of the ball. New England also had an impressive draft class. Although there were not many positives to take from last season, one of them was the emergence of Jakobi Meyers as the best wideout on the team. Alongside the additions of Bourne and Agholor at wide receiver, I believe Meyers has the potential to be very productive this season. Lastly, the promising rookie season from Kyle Dugger last season gives me reason to believe that, with the assistance of veterans Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips, he can be a very solid safety, becoming a hugely reliable asset on defense.
Reasons to Sell
The main reason I would sell has to be the fact that there are simply too many questions and not enough answers regarding this team heading into the season. It still remains to be seen as to whether Cam Newton or Mac Jones will be the starter. I think Belichick will decide to go with Newton as his starter, or else he would not be on the team anymore. This concerns me quite a bit because after Newton’s horrid 2020 campaign, my confidence is extremely low on him. Despite the fact that the Patriots did add offensive weapons this offseason, they will be completely useless if Newton continues to miss wide open targets by a mile like he did last year. Newton showed last season that he simply does not know how to throw the football and this is why Newton starting would be a cause of concern for me. Even if Newton underwhelms again, I am not sure how quick Belichick would be willing to make the switch and have Mac Jones his starter. This is because I get the sense that Belichick will be very loyal to Newton, as was seen last year, and won’t be too eager to make a rookie quarterback his starter even though Jones is one of the top quarterbacks of his draft class. Another concern momentarily is Stephon Gilmore’s holdout. Although I think it is likely that Gilmore will get what he is asking for from the Patriots, we know that New England can be stubborn and you never know what can happen. Finally, the health of Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown will be crucial this season. The fact that both of them have struggled to stay on the field lately is a big issue. Both of them have missed 30 games since 2019. The lack of depth at the position is a major concern and the fact that Wynn and Brown staying healthy is far from a guarantee poses a serious problem.
Ultimately, I feel like there is only one way to go for the Patriots, and that is up. For this reason, I would buy. I believe the combination of good offseason acquisitions, important opt-outs from last year returning and a seemingly strong draft will result in a bounce back season for New England and a return to the postseason.