New Matchbook Insights contributor Fabian Sommer is hitting the ground running for week 1 with a strong lean in an AFC Divisional matchup!
When it comes to NFL spreads, I use a statistical model, a Power Rating and matchup analysis to originate my own numbers.
There’s an AFC East game that I’ve personally bet on which still offers value.
Fans of the New England Patriots have been used to watching Tom Brady drop back in the pocket for the past twenty years. That has changed.
Cam Newton is the new Sheriff in town. New England have lost some defensive players to opt-outs, but I think that the market is overvaluing those losses and simultaneously underrating what Cam Newton can do in this offense.
I’ve come up with a number of -7.5 in favour of the Patriots and was happy to bet it at -6 -105 (1.95) last week. The market has moved since, but I still like everything south of -7. I believe that the market is ultimately going to close at 7.
Dolphins Offense vs. Patriots Defense
In an off-season that puts more weight on continuity than usual, Miami is installing four new starters along the offensive line. When it comes to blocking, experience and communication are key. Rookie offensive linemen also tend to struggle in their first season – the Dolphins are likely going to start two of them, according to their initial depth chart: LT Austin Jackson (1st round) and RG Solomon Kindley (4th round). This was the worst offensive line in 2019 and no one can make the case that Miami would enter the season with a higher ranking.
New England doesn’t have big names on their front seven, but Bill and Steve Belichick will find ways to confuse this unit with versatile looks, blitzes and stunts. Every quarterback is worse under pressure as when can throw the ball from a clean platform.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is notoriously bad when it comes to pressure – including blitzes.
Last season, his PFF passing grade dropped from 90.7 without pressure to 46.3 with pressure. And from 81.8 when not blitzed to 59.4 when blitzed. Same picture in 2018.
Performance without pressure is most stable for signal-callers, but the elite quarterbacks are able to pick defenses apart when they get blitzed. Fitzpatrick hasn’t shown that tendency throughout his career and I don’t think it will bode well behind this offensive line against a Bill Belichick defense.
Running efficiently will be very tough for Miami.
Fitzpatrick will be forced to air it out to DeVante Parker and rising star Preston Williams (who might be on a snap count coming off injury) against cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty in coverage. That might absolutely work out and they win lots of contested catches. But I am betting against that. YOLO-plays are not a winning long-term strategy.
Patriots Offense vs. Dolphins Defense
Cam Newton balled out when he was healthy over the first half in 2018. Ex-Panthers OC Scott Turner implemented an offense that attacked the short areas of the field and got receivers into space. This – combined with an option run game – is the offense I am going to expect to see from the Patriots and OC Josh McDaniels.
Newton is going to be blessed with the best offensive line and the best play-caller in his career. This interior group consisting of Shaq Mason, David Andrews and Joe Thuney can rival the best trios in the NFL. Cam Newton running Power on short downs should be unstoppable in 2020.
The receiving corps is bad, and Cam doesn’t have a lot to work with aside of WR Julian Edelman and RB James White out of the backfield. But what the Pats lacked last year was an option run-game with an 11th player in the run game and scramble ability. If Brady had Newton’s legs last year, that offense would have been a lot more efficient.
I actually believe that this year’s Pats offense will be more efficient than the 2019 version.
Don’t listen to practice reports, because Belichick and Josh McDaniels haven’t opened up the playbook yet. Cam Newton literally said that opposing defenses have no clue what they are getting.
The Dolphins have bolstered their cornerback group, but that’s not the area the Pats are going to attack opposing defenses. They will try to get their option run-game going, use tons of motion and flood the middle of the field.
Miami doesn’t have the front seven to match up well in the trenches against New Englands offensive line and they should get whipped around.
It’s a cheat code when you can use your quarterback in the run game and that’s what the Pats will do. Miami doesn’t know what they are getting and they will be overwhelmed with their front seven.
- New England Patriots -6.5 (-111 / 1.9)