Sunday’s season opener between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins pits two familiar foes against one another, but the player most familiar to the rivalry will be nowhere in sight.
Tom Brady doesn’t play for the Patriots anymore.
Now that the six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback has moved to Tampa Bay, the Patriots will begin a new era with Cam Newton at quarterback. Newton has had his share of success, including the 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year award and the 2015 MVP award, but nothing matches what Brady did for New England over 20 seasons.
With Bill Belichick still at the helm of the Patriots, however, it will be business as usual. It’s a new season and a new team, and he’ll have his players ready to take on their AFC East rival from the south.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.
What’s the spread?
The point spread opened at New England -6.5 on both DraftKings and FanDuel all the way back in May, and it still sits at -6.5 as of Friday afternoon on both web sites.
There has been more movement on the total. It opened at 43.5 on FanDuel and 41.5 on DraftKings. Those numbers are closer now, with FanDuel posting a total of 41.5 as of Friday afternoon and DraftKings posting 42.
The Patriots’ money line is -275 on FanDuel and -278 on DraftKings. The Dolphins’ money line is +225 on FanDuel and +235 on DraftKings.
Because the Patriots are a popular team, the public likes to bet on them. For that reason, you often can find a little bit of value on their opponent each week.
It’s nice to look at betting trends for each game you bet on, but it’s important not to make decisions based solely on those on them.
For instance, the Dolphins are 1-7 against the spread (ATS) in their last eight meetings in New England, and the home team is 13-3 ATS in the last 16 meetings between these two teams.
Miami’s lone cover in its last eight games at New England actually came in its last game. New England entered the 2019 regular-season finale as a 20.5-point favorite because it had a chance to clinch a bye in the playoffs. The Dolphins stunned the league by rallying for a 27-24 victory.
Miami had turned around its season following a horrendous start because the players that remained after a virtual fire sale had bought into head coach Brian Flores’ message. The Dolphins started 0-7 but finished 5-4.
New England, on the other hand, was trending down. It won 10 of its first 11 games but only two of its last four heading into the finale against the Dolphins.
It might have been a surprise for the Dolphins to win outright, but the fact they covered the spread should not have shocked anybody.
As of Friday afternoon, the Patriots were not dealing with any significant injuries. They announced reserve wide receiver Gunner Olszewski (foot) will miss Sunday’s game. They listed starting wide receiver N’Keal Harry (shoulder) and back-up defensive lineman Chase Winovich (shoulder) as questionable, though both players were full participants in Friday’s practice.
The only player on Miami’s injury report is back-up safety Clayton Fejedelem. He is listed as doubtful.
Most of the time, predicting which players will score touchdowns is total guesswork. You can, however, usually make educated guesses in goal-line situations.
The two Patriots players most likely to get carries that close to the end zone are running back Sony Michel and Newton. There is a significant difference in their prices, though. Michel’s prices (+120 on DK; +165 on FD) do not offer much value.
Newton (+300 on DK; +240 on FD) might be worth a shot at his Draftkings price. It’s hard to imagine the Patriots not taking advantage of the big guy’s running ability.
Patriots vs Dolphins Best bets
Although the Patriots are starting the post-Brady era, the culture remains the same because of Belichick. That culture has been an advantage for the Patriots over the last two decades, but it may not be as much of a disadvantage for the Dolphins.
Flores held seven scouting and coaching roles with the Patriots and won four Super Bowls from 2004 to 2018. One of the Dolphins’ best off-season acquisitions was signing slot linebacker Kyle Van Noy from the Patriots. In other words, if anybody knows how to coach against Belichick, it’s Flores.
Combine that with the idea the Dolphins finished the 2019 season strong and have high hopes of contending for a division title sooner rather than later, and they will be fired up to make a statement.
That’s why we recommend taking the Dolphins at +6.5 and even at +6.0.
We also recommend taking a look at the under if you can get 42.
It’s hard to imagine the Patriots taking many downfield shots because they simply don’t have many options. Harry is the player most likely to tilt the field, but he only caught 12 passes for 105 yards in five games last season.
The Dolphins signed cornerback Byron Jones in the off-season, and he should be capable of limiting every receiver he covers.
Miami should have a hard time scoring, too, because the Patriots are expected to have one of the league’s top defenses yet again.