How Josh Gordon Impacts Patriots NFL Playoff Betting Odds
After their second-straight loss, many are starting to doubt whether or not the Patriots are a real Super Bowl contender this season. Sitting at 9-5, the Patriots are currently the No. 3 seed in the AFC are just a half-game ahead of the Steelers for the No. 4 seed.
For the first time in several seasons, they no longer appear to be the juggernaut we are used to seeing at this time of the season. To make matters worse, starting wide receiver Josh Gordon is stepping away from football as he is facing a potential suspension for violating terms of his conditional reinstatement.
Josh Gordon facing potential suspension for violating terms of his conditional reinstatement under NFL drug policy, per @TomPelissero and @DanGrazianoESPN. Final punishment yet to be decided, but Gordon not expected to play again this season or maybe ever again.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 20, 2018
Without Gordon, the Patriots’ offense will take a hit and that is bad news for a team that was already struggling to score at times.
Since Week 5 (when Gordon was acquired via trade from Cleveland), only Julian Edelman played more snaps than Gordon, according to Albert Breer on Twitter.
Since arriving in New England in a trade from Cleveland, he’s been arguably their best receiver. In 11 games with the Patriots, Gordon averaged 18 yards per reception as he caught 40 passes for 720 yards.
Without Gordon on the field, the Patriots’ offense loses a lot of speed and playmaking ability down the field. There is no one on the roster that can replace that.
Bookies Still Like the Patriots
Without Gordon, are the Patriots no longer a team that needs to be feared come playoff time? With the NFL playoffs just two weeks away, NFL betting fans should reexamine this Patriots' team to determine whether or not they are still a good bet to make it out of the AFC, let alone in Super Bowl betting.
Despite these recent losses and the latest news surrounding Gordon, NFL oddsmakers and bettors have not panicked. According to 888Sport, the Patriots currently have the second-best odds to win the AFC (+300), just behind the Kansas City Chiefs (+225). What I find fascinating is that the current No. 2 seed, the Houston Texans, are +700 to win the AFC and +1600 to win the Super Bowl.
For a team is slated to have a first-round bye, that line seems off.
What that tells me is that oddsmakers don't believe the Texans will finish as the No. 2 seed and for a good reason. Heading into Week 16, the Texans have just a one-game lead over the Patriots for the No. 2 seed. However, Houston has to travel to Philadelphia this week to take on the Eagles, while the Patriots will face the Bills and Jets at home to close out the season.
The Texans are 2.5-point underdogs to the Eagles. If they do slip up in Philadelphia, it’s hard to imagine the No. 2 seed not being the New England Patriots in the AFC. That should be a terrifying thought to every other AFC contender.
Since 2001, the Patriots are 19-3 when playing at home in the playoffs. If New England can secure a first-round bye, it's quite likely that they will travel to Kansas City in the conference championship game. There is also the possibility that Kansas City could be upset and that New England would host that game, assuming they take care of business in the divisional round.
Nevertheless, a first-round bye and a home playoff game would almost certainly allow the Patriots to advance to the championship round, at least.
NFL Week 16 Key for New England
However, if New England can't secure the No.2 seed, they may be in a lot of trouble. Since 2000, they are 3-4 on the road in the playoffs. It's hard to imagine that this team as currently constructed would be able to win back-to-back playoff games on the road to win a Super Bowl.
Even this year, the Patriots are a much different team at home than on the road. New England is averaging 33.5 points per game at home as compared to just 21.6 on the road. The Patriots are 6-0 at home, but 3-5 on the road. That's quite a differential for a team that usually thrives on the road.
Week 16 could very well decide the fate of the AFC. If Houston does fall to Philadelphia, then there is indeed is a path for the Patriots to make it to their third-straight Super Bowl, despite their somewhat up-and-down season.
But if the Texans hold onto the No. 2 spot, it could be tough sledding for New England in the playoffs if they are now forced to play a wild-card game and then two games on the road.
Despite their rocky season, it's hard for me to believe that anyone is going to go to Foxboro in January and beat them, even without Gordon. If you think they will be able to grab a first-round bye, then taking New England (+300) to win the AFC presents some pretty good value.
The Gordon news limits their ceiling some, but I still think Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are capable of pulling off one more run.
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