The more things change the more they stay the same. Like last season and the season before, the roster turnover for the New England Patriots is high. But just like those seasons, and a whole bunch before that, the Pats are the team to beat in the AFC because of one guy – Tom Brady. There’s a good chance Brady doesn’t play in the Week 1 preseason opener against the Washington Redskins, and with no Jimmy Garoppolo as the backup, expect veteran Brian Hoyer to get plenty of reps.
This contest in Week 1 of the preseason will go down Thursday, August 9, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. ET from Gillette Stadium.
NFL Odds at BookMaker.eu
Washington Redskins +3
New England Patriots -3
Typical of every preseason game on the Week 1 slate, the home team goes off as the favorite. Little is known about teams at this point and Pats coach Bill Belichick isn’t always forthcoming with his plans, still New England gives the standard field goal for home field advantage with the total the highest on the board for Thursday’s games at 37.
With Brady slinging the ball all over the yard, the Pats typically have one of the best offenses in the NFL. The issue heading into the preseason is who is going to catch those passes. New England lost Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks during the offseason. The two combined for 126 receptions, 1,741 yards and nine touchdowns last season. That’s a lot of production to replace.
And that’s just the start. The Pats recently released Malcolm Mitchell and will be without Julian Edelman for the first four games of the regular season. That opens up the competition during the preseason and several players are in the running to take over.
Chris Hogan figures to get plenty of targets due to his familiarity with Brady, but he’s an unknown as the No. 1 option. The X-factors in the passing game appear to be Phillip Dorsett and Cordarelle Patterson. Both have been impressive during training camp and Dorsett benefitted from being with the club last season. Patterson never lived up to his potential with the Vikings and has a new lease on life in New England.
The Pats recently signed veteran Eric Decker and he should get plenty of snaps on Thursday as he tries to play catch up. Decker fits the mold of Amendola and Edelman as a possession receiver, but he still has the jets to run by defenders. Kenny Britt, Riley McCarron and Braxton Berrios are also on the roster and will be featured in the opener.
The Redskins were hit hard by injuries last season and Jay Gruden would be happy if he escapes the preseason opener in good health. The roster has a different look, especially at quarterback where Alex Smith takes over for Kirk Cousins. Smith isn’t as flashy and doesn’t possess the cannon arm, but he’s a winner, at least during the regular season, and he doesn’t turn the ball over. Colt McCoy and Kevin Hogan will also take turns running the offense after a series from Smith.
We don’t expect Brady to play until Week 2, but Belichick could surprise us all with a series from his MVP. Brady has a bunch of new weapons on the outside and could use some game reps to build a rapport. Brian Hoyer will get a majority of the snaps with rookie Danny Etling picking up the scraps.
Free ATS Pick
There are more question marks than usual surrounding the Pats entering the preseason opener and that’s just how Belichick wants it. The competition builds character and brings out the best in his players. Still, it’s going to be a shaky debut for the AFC champs as they work on their roster.
And the Skins can take advantage of that. The defensive line improved and there will be an emphasis on running the football. Chris Thompson won’t play, but the Skins have several options in Derrius Guice, Samaje Perine, Byron Marshall and Kapri Bibbs. Running the football will likely keep the score down, giving some value to the under. And the Skins have the more talented backup quarterbacks to get points in the second half.
NFL Odds: Redskins 17, Patriots 13
BookMaker offers play-by-play betting odds for live sporting events every day! The user-friendly wagering interface on your smartphone provides an easy way to place bets on the go. Mobile betting lines are updated by the minute, so click here to start gambling on thrilling live action at BookMaker Sportsbook! This contest in Week 1 of the preseason will go down Thursday, August 9, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. ET from Gillette Stadium.