Is there a way to find value on the Patriots this season?

When DeAndre Hopkins was released by the Arizona Cardinals, fans of 31 NFL teams took to social media to define what the future might like with Hopkins paired with their quarterbacks. Hopkins’ portfolio of highlights has been plastered all over the internet, along with photoshopped images of the wide in more jerseys than Ryan Fitzpatrick has racked up over the years. As usual, the NFL’s front offices didn’t share the same fervor as its fans. Hopkins has been on the market for more than two weeks, but it looks like his search for a new home is coming to an end. Reports resumed Thursday that Hopkins met with the Patriots, and there is strong mutual interest. Although Hopkins is still unsigned, now is a great time to consider the betting implications to see if we can surge the market.

Current odds to win at BetMGM

Super Bowl: +5000

CIF: +3000

Department: +750

I have more respect for Bill Belichick than any other coach in NFL history. The Matt Patricia-Joe Judge disaster last season cost him a few points, but I’m confident he still has his fastball. However, the AFC has turned into a buzzsaw of superhuman quarterbacks who have managed to make do with Belichick’s defenses in recent years. Any discussion of a Super Bowl or a conference championship is wrong. I like a good long shot, but New England is nothing more than a reckless risk at 50 to 1. Even the +3000 odds of winning the AFC are probably short, despite a meager implied probability of 3.23%. At 31, Hopkins will move the needle, but bettors won’t get the cosmic change needed to make the Pats a true threat in the AFC.

Throw New England into the NFC South and we can have a chat. The problem with betting in these markets is not only that New England is in the AFC, but it’s in one of the most competitive divisions in the conference. It’s very rare that a non-quarterback can raise the level of a roster enough to justify betting on skipping three strong teams like the Jets, Dolphins and Bills. The split bet is a hard pass.

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones follows up on a pass during NFL football practice, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass.  (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Mac Jones could have a rebound season for the Patriots. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Mac Jones passing yards: O/U 3249.5 (-110)

This is where Hopkins’ potential presence on the Patriots’ offense really makes a difference. Adding Hopkins to DeVante Parker and JuJu Smith-Schuster solidifies the wide receiver room and allows Kendrick Bourne to slip into the WR4 role. It’s a significant upgrade to the trio of Parker, Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers that Jones worked with in 2022. He also gets a good faith caller in Bill O’Brien. Jumping on Jones to top that yardage total is a smart move and one of the best ways to take advantage of Hopkins’ potential addition. Jones threw for over 3,800 yards in his rookie season, and O’Brien should have no problem getting him back to rookie form even with the current guns.

Mac Jones passing touchdowns: O/U 17.5 (-110)

Here’s more action that isn’t conditional on New England adding Hopkins. Jones threw for 22 touchdowns in his rookie season and went down to 14 last year under the offense of Patricia-Judge. The market is pricing this number near the two-season average, but here’s why I see value. Jones played just 14 games last season, averaging one TD shot per game. It’s fair to project him at 17 touchdowns for a full season. Is upgrading to Offensive Coordinator worth half a touchdown? New England had the worst red zone offense in the NFL last year, scoring touchdowns on just 42.22 percent of their chances. That number will improve with O’Brien, but the eventual addition of Hopkins’ reliable hands in the red zone makes it an easy bet.

Ranking upon arrival of the division

  • 1st: +750

  • 2nd: +500

  • 3rd: +300

  • 4th: -165

Now we speak my language. If I’m going to tie up money in the futures market, I’d like to get a decent profit on top of the money. AFC East is too big a mountain to climb, but one step in the right direction can net you +300. Betting that the Pats finish third is a good angle, given that two of the three teams above them (Miami, New York) are high-variance teams with low floors. There is a risk of further injury with Tua Tagovailoa which could end Miami’s season. Also, would anyone be shocked if Aaron Rodgers’ move to the Big Apple went terribly in Year 1? The biggest concern with the Jets is the offensive line, which also increases the chances of Rodgers going down for a long stretch. Some stores offer a New England alternate win total of over 9.5 wins at +300. I much prefer to bet that the possible addition of Hopkins will remove the Patriots from a potential fourth place.

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