Are the New England Patriots prepared to begin the season without their future Hall of Fame quarterback under center and how will this affect their chances at another Super Bowl run and your NFL picks in Week 1?
The Brady Saga
We won't attempt to defend either Tom Brady or his nemesis Roger Goodell as that has been hashed, rehashed and warmed over more than grandma's leftovers. But what we will say is that Tom Brady, unlike his owner Robert Kraft, is not going quietly into that good night. Brady has hired the NFL's archenemy Jeffrey Kessler, a legal gun for hire who has gone toe-to-toe with Goodell and his legal henchmen on more than one occasion. Thus, we won't actually know if the Commissioner will commute or rescind his suspension until Brady's pleas are heard and the legal maneuverings come to a close. That could take some time of course but it could also mean that if Brady is ultimately successful he could take to the gridiron in Week 1.
Nevertheless, we shall assume that for now Tom Terrific will be firmly ensconced in the owner's box for the first four regular season games watching his understudy Jimmy Garoppolo ply his trade and do his level best to fill the immense shoes of New England's golden boy. Anything short of a perfect 4-0 record will cause the New England faithful to howl for their savior. Garoppolo's tenure in New England, nay even the league, could hinge on how well he acquits himself in Brady's absence. Yes, it is certainly a small sample size to determine any player's fate but patience is not a virtue that fans or coaches easily embrace. For now we shall gaze into our crystal ball to see what lies ahead with the heir apparent under center and calling the shots for the defending Super Bowl champs.
Week 1 Line Movement
On Thursday September 10th the 2015 NFL season commences as the Patriots host Big Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. When the schedule was announced sportsbooks like GTBets hung NFL odds on the Patriots -6 on April 25th. New England money poured in and on May 6th the book had added the dreaded hook for those who lean towards the chalk. However that line move to 6½ was not long for this world as within a few hours those who were looking for a bargain sent in enough dinero to move the line back to six.
However, a few hours after that news spread of Brady's impending suspension and the number dropped like a rock to which the NFL odds plummeted to 3½. Two weeks later it had plunged yet again only this time it went below the pivotal field goal to 2½ where it has pretty much stayed ever since. And for those who are partial to the NFL odds totals we saw an immediate tailspin from 53½ to 48½ . All this helter-skelter line movement because one man will not be in a New England Patriots uniform - or will he?
If you believe Tom Terrific will be victorious in the courtroom this summer, assuming Goodell refuses to budge, then the Patriots are an enormous bargain at -2½ and perhaps to a lesser degree the NFL odds total of 48½ . Because here we have a line that is hinging on second-year man Jimmy Garoppolo leading the Patriots offense and if you consider Bill Belichick's plug-n-play offensive schemes with the major weapons still in his arsenal from last season - Gronkowski, Edelman, Amendola and a healthy Aaron Dobson not to mention a twin tower now at tight end Scott Chandler - then Garoppolo could be as effective as Matt Cassel was back in 2008 when Brady went down with a torn ACL.
The Pats went 11-5 that season which was more a result of the Belichick system than any grandiose heroics by Cassel. I say lay the 2½ with your NFL picks knowing that Belichick is still pulling the strings and with any luck Jeffrey Kessler may just see to it that Tom Brady suits up against the Steelers on September 10th which could make for a mighty fine middle when you buy back the Steelers at +6½ or better.