We should know by now that betting against the New England Patriots is a fool's exercise. Tom Brady tends to do the unthinkable, like surmounting 0.2 percent odds to come back from 28-3 in the Super Bowl.
Brady's back for another year and, at 40, he's still probably the best player in the NFL. Making matters worse for all NFL teams not from New England, the Patriots have had a really impressive offseason: the team re-signed two Pro Bowlers in cornerback Malcolm Butler and linebacker Dont'a Hightower, signed running backs Mike Gillislee and Rex Burhead in free agency, and traded a first- and third-round pick for star wideout Brandin Cooks.
Long story short, it's tough to argue that the Patriots didn't improve pretty significantly (at least roster-wise) since that Super Bowl comeback—some, like USA Today's Nate Davis, are predicting the Patriots to go 16-0. Read into that specific prediction as you will, but the main point is that New England should be really, really good, and Vegas has taken notice.
Sports betting analytics website Sports Insights teamed up with SportsOddsHistory.com to compile the favorites for a handful of preseason categories for each year since 2001. The picture below gives you a peak into how unusually favored this New England team is.
Some remarkable takeaways:
• New England is -2500 to make the playoffs, meaning you'd have to bet $2,500 to make $100 on that bet; the previous record for odds to make the playoffs was the Peyton Manning-led 2013 Denver Broncos.
• New England has been the favorite/co-favorite to win the Super Bowl in seven of the last 11 seasons. This year, they're +250 to take home the Lombardi.
• New England is -1400 to win the AFC East. That's kind of absurd and certainly bulletin board material for the Dolphins, Jets and Bills...but barring a Brady injury, the Patriots are going to win the AFC East. Simple as that.
• New England is +125 to win the AFC; the previous record was held by the 2005 Philadelphia Eagles, who went 6-10 and missed the playoffs.
• The preseason Super Bowl favorite has gone on to win the Super Bowl in just four of the past 16 seasons but has reached the Super Bowl eight times over that span.
The NFL is unpredictable, and that 2005 Philadelphia team is evidence that even the most talented teams are not immune from a disappointing season. But again, bet against Brady & Co. at your own risk.