Wednesday, November 21, 2007

 

Will The Patriots Go Undefeated?

And will the '72 Dolphins have to leave the champaign on ice this year?

Probably. At least according to bettors at Tradesports. As I write this the contract last traded at 53.8 and is offered at 59.6, which equates to roughly 3-2 odds.

Which I think is about right. Though 4 of their final 6 games are at home, those two road games, Week 13 @ Balitmore and Week 17 @ New York Giants, both at night, loom large. They also face the Steelers on a short week following the Monday night game in Baltimore. But if they are 15-0 with nothing but history to play for heading into Week 17 and the Giants, as is likely, are fighting for a playoff spot, can the Patriots maintain their motivation? Consider this:
Just three seasons after being separated by just three points in Super Bowl XXXIX, the gap between the Patriots and Eagles has widened to historic proportions: Philly is a 23½-point underdog.

That is the largest point spread for an NFL game that does not involve an expansion team, according to odds-making experts in Las Vegas.

On Dec. 5, 1976, the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 24-point underdogs to the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers covered easily, winning 42-0.
Sal Paolantonio reports bettors have the perception that the Patriots are running up the score on opponents because of the illegal videotaping incident in Week 1. That incident certainly motivates them. They are playing like a team with a chip on their shoulder, which is part of the reason why they are the most methodically dominating football team I've ever seen.

Diego adds: The Patriots/Eagles betting line is also influenced by QB McNab's injury status but still is big.

Once the Pats have the top seed locked up we will see how bad they want to be undefeated. In week 17 they play the Giants who may be fighting for a playoff seed or even just to get in. It could be tough for the Pats to justify going for it by playing their starters all the way.

I disagreed with Don Shula's suggestion that an undefeated season for the Patriots should be given an asterisk (he backed away from that suggestion soon after) but I do think the Patriots image has been tarnished. They are cheaters. If they go undefeated it will be in the season that they were caught red handed and penalized for cheating.

NFL Commissioner Goodell made an awfully suspect move of destroying the evidence collected and suggesting the matter is closed. There was probably some pretty damning evidence which he could not allow to get out. Correcting past seasons games could have far reaching implications which Goodell likely wanted no part of. The Patriots got the Sandy Berger treatment and the fans were left wondering just what really happened.

Although the Patriots will be favored by significant margin in their remaining games I don't think they will go without a loss. They have some tough games yet to play. The Colts were probably the biggest game (and a healthy Colts team will give them a run for their money if they play again - even in New England) but the Steelers and Giants can beat them and the Ravens might not like the score being run up - that could lead to an injury.

It would be justice if the Patriots only loss this season was the Dolphins only win. But it might be the Buccaneers who send out the champagne this year.

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