Tag Archives: 2017 Patriots schedule

NFL Week 17 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead’ Betting Lines: Pats favored by 16 vs Jets

John Morgan
December 23, 2017 at 8:00 pm ET

NFL Week 17 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead’ Betting Lines: Pats favored by 16 vs Jets

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has published their latest NFL Advanced Betting Lines. These early odds were posted a day after the Week 15 games finished. Keep in mind these odds were listed prior to any of this week’s injury reports, as well as any of the Week 16 games. Also known as Look-Ahead lines, they give the adventurous sports fan an opportunity to wager on games up to twelve days away from being played. Early lines offer a short opportunity to get a jump on odds that could become less favorable after Sunday’s games.

Handicapping games in the final week of the regular season can be a tricky proposition. Motivation could be difficult for a team that has played for the goal of making the playoffs for months, and suddenly finds themselves eliminated. A bad team might play loose and try things they normally wouldn’t, catching an opponent off guard. Good teams locked into a specific playoff slot may opt to rest players who would have otherwise started. The line in the Eagles-Cowboys game reflects that concept.

In Week 16 ten road teams are favored to win. That number falls back to a more typical number in Week 17, with five home dogs. The Saints are the biggest road favorite, minus 8½ points at Tampa Bay. The largest spread of the week is in Foxboro, where the Patriots are favored by 16 versus the Jets. That game is one of four double-digit spreads. The narrowest odds are with Houston as a one-point underdog at Indianapolis.

The most important games of Week 17 loom to be Carolina at Atlanta (-3½) in the NFC, and Jacksonville (-3½) at Tennessee in the AFC.

All games will be played on Sunday, December 31. There are no night games.

NFL Week 12 Early Odds – Early Games on CBS

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-16)
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3½) at Tennessee Titans
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-15)
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-11)
Buffalo Bills (-2½) at Miami Dolphins
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-1)

NFL Week 12 Early Odds – Early Games on Fox

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-3½)
New Orleans Saints (-8½) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-12)
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (-9)
Washington Redskins (-3) at New York Giants

NFL Week 12 Early Odds – Late Games

Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-7), CBS
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-7), Fox
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (-2½), CBS
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-7), Fox



NFL Week 16 Odds, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

NFL Playoff Picture Entering Week 16


NFL Week 12 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead’ Betting Lines: Pats favored by 14.5 vs Miami

John Morgan
November 19, 2017 at 6:00 am ET

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has published their latest NFL Advanced Betting Lines. These early odds are posted prior to the following week’s games, including this past Thursday’s game between Pittsburgh and Tennessee. Also known as Look-Ahead lines, they give the adventurous sports fan an opportunity to wager on games up to twelve days away. Early lines offer a short opportunity to get a jump on odds that could be less favorable after Sunday’s games.

The good news is that this the bye weeks are over, and that Thanksgiving Day gives us three games to feast on.

On paper the NFL Week 12 schedule does not offer many close games. Eleven games have a spread of 6½ or more and two games list odds of three points or less. The New England Patriots are the heaviest favorites, at -14½ at home versus Miami. Two other home teams are also double-digit favorites. Chicago is at Philadelphia (-11½) and Green Bay plays at Pittsburgh (-12½) next Sunday night.

Home favorites also have the narrowest odds. The Vikings are at Detroit (-1½) in an important NFC North game, and the Rams (-1½) host New Orleans in one of the late afternoon matchups. The only road favorites are Carolina (at the Jets), Tennessee at Indy, Seattle at San Francisco, and Jacksonville at Arizona.

NFL Week 12 Early Odds

Thanksgiving Day, Thursday Nov 24
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-1½) 12:30 pm ET on Fox
Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys (-4), 4:30 pm ET on CBS
New York Giants at Washington Redskins (-8½), 8:30 pm ET on NBC

Sunday Nov 26 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-8)
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-14½)
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-7½)

Sunday Nov 26 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles (-11½)
Tampa Bay Bucs at Atlanta Falcons (-9)
Carolina Panthers (-4) at New York Jets
Tennessee Titans (-6½) at Indianapolis Colts

Sunday Nov 26 late afternoon games
Seattle Seahawks (-8½) at San Francisco 49ers, 4:00 pm ET on Fox
New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams (-1½), 4:30 pm on CBS
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3½) at Arizona Cardinals, 4:30 pm ET on CBS
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (-6½), 4:30 pm ET on CBS

Prime Time Games, 8:30 pm ET
Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers (-12½), Sunday November 26 on NBC
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-7½), Monday November 27 on espn


At first glance I like the Vikings (+1½), Rams (-1½), Washington (-8½), Bucs +9 and Packers +12½.


NFL Week 11 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead’ Betting Lines: Pats favored by 6 vs Raiders

John Morgan
November 11, 2017 at 5:30 pm ET

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has published their latest NFL Advanced Betting Lines. These early odds are posted prior to the following week’s games, including this past Thursday’s game between Seattle and Arizona. Also known as Look-Ahead lines, they give the adventurous sports fan an opportunity to wager on games up to twelve days away. Early lines offer a short opportunity to get a jump on odds that could be less favorable after Sunday’s games.

NFL Week 11 looks like it will have plenty of close games. There are no double-digit favorites, and only one game with a spread of more than seven. Home teams are favored in only half of the 14 scheduled games, and nine games have odds of 3½ or fewer points.

The week kicks off with Tennessee at Pittsburgh in Thursday night. In the early Sunday time slot there is what should be a great game between two NFC division leaders. The Rams are at Minnesota in a battle between two teams that have far exceeded expectations thus far in 2017. The winner will be in good position to head into the playoffs with a first round bye. LA has shown that all they needed was to rid themselves of Jeff Fisher, while the Vikings defense has carried the load after losing RB Dalvin Cook to a torn ACL.

In the late afternoon time slot the Patriots and Raiders renew a rivalry dating back to the inception of the American Football League 57 years ago. Players will face the challenge of the high altitude and smog of Mexico City in the 35th meeting between these two franchises. What’s the over/under on the number of times ‘tuck rule’ is mentioned on television that day? Don’t turn hearing that phrase into a drinking game; too many people will die from alcohol poisoning.

Week 11 wraps up with a pair of good prime time NFC games. On Sunday night the Eagles are at Dallas. Philly has a 2½ game lead heading into the week 10 games, and the Cowboys need a win to keep up for a chance of at least a wild card spot. Then on Monday night Atlanta is at Seattle. The two clubs have represented the NFC in the Super Bowl in three of the last four years. Both have underachieved somewhat this year despite their winning records, but still have enough talent to put together a long winning streak in the second half of the season.

NFL Week 11 Early Odds

Thursday Nov 16 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)

Sunday Nov 19 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox
Detroit Lions (-2½) at Chicago Bears
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins (-3½)
Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings (-3)
Arizona Cardinals (-2) at Houston Texans
Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints (-7)

Sunday Nov 19 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS
Kansas City Chiefs (-9½) at New York Giants
Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Green Bay Packers
Jacksonville Jaguars (-7) at Cleveland Browns

Sunday Nov 19 late afternoon games
Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers (-3), 4:00 pm ET on Fox
Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos (-2½), 4:30 pm ET on CBS
New England Patriots (-6) at Mexico City Raiders, 4:30 pm ET on CBS

Prime Time Games, 8:30 pm ET
Philadelphia Eagles (-1) at Dallas Cowboys, Sunday November 19 on NBC
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks (-2), Monday November 20 on espn

Bye Week
Carolina Panthers
Indianapolis Colts
New York Jets
San Francisco 49ers


I like the Jaguars minus-7 against the Browns based on the numbers above. Another option is a three-point teaser two-game teaser. Bring Houston to plus-5 at home versus Arizona, and the Jags to minus-4 at Cleveland. For less risk (but a lower payoff) make it six points. That would give Houston more than a touchdown (+8) and Jacksonville just a minus-1.

NFL Week 8 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead’ Betting Lines: Pats favored by 7 at Chargers

John Morgan
October 19, 2017 at 6:00 am ET

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has published their latest NFL Advanced Betting Lines. These early odds are posted prior to the following week’s games, including the Thursday Night Football game. Also known as Look-Ahead lines, they give the adventurous sports fan an opportunity to wager on games up to twelve days away. In other words, these week 8 odds are published prior to the week 7 games being played. If you are in Vegas and have a good feeling about a matchup further down the road, the Westgate offers an opportunity to get a jump on odds that could be less favorable after this week’s games.

The early week 8 games don’t offer a whole lot worth watching. Best of the lot in the early Sunday time slot involve the AFC East versus AFC West. The AFCE is currently a home favorite in both games. Buffalo (-2½ point) hosts Oakland, and the Chargers visit New England (-7).

Week 8 kicks off with a couple of mediocre games. Miami is at Baltimore on Thursday night, and Minnesota plays Cleveland in a Sunday morning breakfast game from London. Things improve in the late afternoon slot with Houston at Seattle and Dallas at Washington. Sunday night features Pittsburgh at Detroit, with the Steelers favored by three. Then we have a good (!) Monday night game to finish the week. Denver is at Kansas City in the 115th meeting between these two original AFL rivals.


NFL Week 8 Early Odds

Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens (-4½), Thursday October 26 at 8:30 pm ET on CBS

Minnesota Vikings (-7½) vs Cleveland Browns in London, Sunday October 29 at 9:30 am ET on NFLN

Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals (-3½), Sunday October 29 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1½), Sunday October 29 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox
Oakland Raiders at Buffalo Bills (-2½), Sunday October 29 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS
Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots (-7), Sunday October 29 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS
Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints (-8½), Sunday October 29 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox
Atlanta Falcons (-7) at New York Jets, Sunday October 29 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles (-10½), Sunday October 29 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox

Houston Texans at Seattle Seahawks (-6½), Sunday October 29 at 4:00 pm ET on CBS
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins (-1), Sunday October 29 at 4:30 pm ET on Fox

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) at Detroit Lions, Sunday October 29 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (-6½), Monday October 30 at 8:30 pm ET on espn


NFL Week 7 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead’ Betting Lines: Pats favored by 4 vs Falcons

John Morgan
October 12, 2017 at 6:00 am ET

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has published their latest NFL Advanced Betting Lines. These early odds are posted prior to the following week’s games, including the Thursday Night Football game. Also known as Look-Ahead lines, they give the adventurous sports fan an opportunity to wager on games up to twelve days away. If you are in Vegas and have a good feeling about a matchup further down the road, the Westgate offers an opportunity to get a jump on odds that could be less favorable after Sunday’s games.

Week 7 is highlighted by a rematch of what was possibly the greatest championship game in pro sports history. The Atlanta Falcons will travel to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots a week from Sunday night. The professional handicappers at the Westgate have listed the defending champs as four point favorites for the moment.

Since home field accounts for about a three point advantage on NFL betting lines, that means the Pats would be considered to be slightly (one point) better than Atlanta on a neutral field. That may come as a bit of a surprise to those who have witnessed the performance of New England’s defense this season. On the other hand the Falcons had issues to deal with as well after losing to Buffalo. In spite of extra time to recuperate after last week’s bye, Atlanta still had nine players on this week’s initial injury report. Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (hamstring), defensive tackle Courtney Upshaw (ankle/knee), wide receiver Justin Hardy (illness) and kicker Matt Bryant (back) did not participate in practice on Wednesday. Wide receiver Julio Jones (hip) was limited, as was outside linebacker Vic Beasley. Atlanta’s premier pass rusher has missed the last two games with a hamstring strain/tear.

Aside from the Sunday night showdown, NFL week 7 does have other games of note. Kansas City is at Oakland for one of those rare Thursday night games worth watching. New Orleans travels to Green Bay in the early Sunday time slot, and the Broncos play the Chargers late Sunday afternoon. The week wraps up with the Eagles hosting Washington for what should be a good Monday night game.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati has been flexed from a 1:00 pm kickoff to 4:25. That may have been done to mask what was supposed to be a good game in that late afternoon time slot. The 0-5 Giants, now depleted of most of their wide receivers, are the week’s biggest underdogs at 7½ points – despite playing at home. Fortunately for Seattle fans that Seahawks-Giants game – which was originally slated to be the premier game for CBS – will remain in the late time slot. In other programming notes Carolina at Chicago moves from Fox to CBS; the Jets-Dolphins game will be found on Fox rather than CBS.

NFL Week 7 Early Odds

Thursday Oct 19 at 8:30 pm ET on CBS
Kansas City Chiefs (-2½) at Oakland Raiders

Sunday Oct 22 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS
Tennessee Titans (off) at Cleveland Browns
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) at Indianapolis Colts
Baltimore Ravens at Minnesota Vikings (-3)
Carolina Panthers (-4½) at Chicago Bears

Sunday Oct 22 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-4½)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills (-2)
New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers (-6½)
Arizona Cardinals ‘at’ Los Angeles Rams (-3) in London

Sunday Oct 22 late afternoon games
Dallas Cowboys (-4½) at San Francisco 49ers, 4:00 pm ET on Fox
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7), 4:30 pm ET on CBS
Seattle Seahawks (-7½) at New York Giants, 4:30 pm ET on CBS
Denver Broncos (-2½) at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:30 pm ET on CBS

Prime Time Games, 8:30 pm ET
Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots (-4), Sun Oct 22 on NBC
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (-6½), Mon Oct 23 on espn

Week 7 Byes
Detroit Lions
Houston Texans


NFL Week 6 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead’ Betting Lines: Pats favored by 9.5 at Jets

John Morgan
October 7, 2017 at 9:30 pm ET

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has published their latest NFL Advanced Betting Lines. These early odds are posted prior to the following week’s games, including the Thursday Night Football game. Also known as Look-Ahead lines, they give the adventurous sports fan an opportunity to wager on games up to twelve days away. If you are in Vegas and have a good feeling about a matchup further down the road, the Westgate offers an opportunity to get a jump on odds that could be less favorable after Sunday’s games.

The two Super Bowl LI contestants are the biggest initial Week 6 favorites. Atlanta is a 9½ point home favorite, and New England is favored by the same amount on the road. The Falcons face a Miami team that has scored a mere six points in their last two games and are averaging just 8.3 points per game on the season. The defending Super Bowl champions travel to New Jersey to take on their arch rivals for the biannual encounter. The Jets have ruined management tanking plans and could enter on a three game winning streak should they defeat the Browns on Sunday.

Next week’s marquee game kicks off in the late afternoon slot on CBS. The 4-0 Kansas City Chiefs travel to Pittsburgh to face the 3-1 Steelers at Heinz Field. The Chiefs are averaging 30.5 points per game while Pittsburgh is allowing only 14.8 ppg; both numbers rank second best in the NFL. Aside from potential playoff implications, this should be a great game for all football fans to watch.

NFL Week 6 Early Odds

Thursday Oct 12 at 8:30 pm ET on CBS
Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers (-3)

Sunday Oct 15 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS
Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons (-9½)
Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans (-8½)
New England Patriots (-9½) at New York Jets

Sunday Oct 15 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox
Chicago Bears at Baltimore Ravens (-6)
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (off)
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (-3)
San Francisco Forty Niners at Washington Redskins (-7)

Sunday Oct 15 late afternoon games
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals (-2½), 4:00 pm ET on Fox
Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville Jaguars (pick), 4:00 pm ET on Fox
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders (off), 4:30 pm ET on CBS
Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2½), 4:30 pm ET on CBS

Prime Time Games, 8:30 pm ET
New York Giants at Denver Broncos (-6), Sunday October 9 on NBC
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (off), Monday October 10 on espn

Bye Week
Buffalo Bills
Cincinnati Bengals
Dallas Cowboys
Seattle Seahawks


NFL Week 4 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead’ Betting Lines: Patriots 3 point favorites vs Carolina

John Morgan
September 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm ET

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published their NFL Week 4 Advanced Betting Lines earlier this week. The world’s largest sports book publishes these prior to any of the previous week’s games. Also known as Look-Ahead or Early lines, they give sports fans a chance to toll the dice on games 9-12 days away. Let’s take a look at what the professional handicappers are thinking about NFL Week 4.

The New England Patriots are listed as 3-point favorites over Carolina. Typically odds makers add three points for home field advantage. Taking that into consideration, that means the handicappers look at the Panthers and Pats as equals on a neutral field. Despite Carolina’s impressive defense I find that to be a slight surprise.

Home field typically represents a three point drop for the visitors.

Aside from Carolina at New England, there are a few other good games on tap. The Broncos are 1½ point home favorites against the Raiders in what will be the 106th meeting between the original AFL rivals. Pittsburgh at Baltimore is a pick’em in the biannual bloodbath of these AFC North combatants. Week 4 also has a scheduling oddity. Thanks to the ineptitude of the Colts, the Monday night game (Washington at Kansas City) should be better viewing than the Sunday night contest (Indianapolis at Seattle).

As a result of another game being played in London, week four has a second consecutive early morning game. I would guess that these back-to-back games is another test by the league offices to ascertain the interest and viability of an NFL team there. There will be four NFL games in London this year. The Cardinals play the Rams week 7 with a 1:00 pm ET kickoff, and the following week the Vikings play the Browns. Those two games will be played at Twickenham Stadium, while the week three and four games take place at Wembley Stadium.


NFL Week 4 Early Odds

Thursday Sept 28 at 8:30 pm ET on CBS
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-11)

Sunday Oct 1 at 9:30 am ET on Fox, in London
New Orleans Saints ‘at’ Miami Dolphins (-1)

Sunday Oct 1 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS
Tennessee Titans (-2½) at Houston Texans
Jacksonville Jaguars (-4½) at New York Jets
Cincinnati Bengals (-1½) at Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers (PK) at Baltimore Ravens
Buffalo Bills at Atlanta Falcons (-9)

Sunday Oct 1 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox
Carolina Panthers at New England Patriots (-3)
Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys (-8½)
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (N/A, due to Sam Bradford injury status)

Sunday Oct 1 at 4:00 pm ET on Fox
New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6)
Philadelphia Eagles (-1) at Los Angeles Chargers
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-6½)

Sunday Oct 1 at 4:30 pm ET on CBS
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-1½)

Sunday Oct 1 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC
Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks (-14½)

Monday Oct 2 at 8:30 pm ET on espn
Washington Redskins at Kansas City Chiefs (-8½)


Best Bets:
Bucs (-6) vs Giants
Patriots (-3) vs Panthers
Steelers (pk) at Ravens


Updated Super Bowl 52 Odds

The Westgate has also updated their odds for all 32 NFL teams to win Super Bowl 52. The Patriots, Steelers, Falcons and Raiders top the list, all improving their stature. To nobody’s surprise the stock in Washington, Arizona, Cincinnati and Indianapolis has dropped dramatically. However, no team is sporting slimmer odds than the New York Jets. Gang Green’s slim chances have plummeted to a laughable low after just two games.

Current Odds – (Original Odds) – Team
7:2 —– (6:1) —– New England Patriots
7:1 —– (10:1) —- Pittsburgh Steelers
7:1 —– (16:1) —- Atlanta Falcons
8:1 —– (20:1) —- Oakland Raiders
10:1 —- (10:1) —- Dallas Cowboys
10:1 —- (12:1) —- Green Bay Packers
10:1 —- (12:1) —- Seattle Seahawks
14:1 —- (20:1) —- Kansas City Chiefs

20:1 —- (20:1) —- Carolina Panthers
20:1 —- (20:1) —- Denver Broncos
25:1 —- (25:1) —- Baltimore Ravens
30:1 —- (25:1) —- Minnesota Vikings
30:1 —- (25:1) —- New York Giants
30:1 —- (40:1) —- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
30:1 —- (40:1) —- Tennessee Titans
30:1 —- (60:1) —- Philadelphia Eagles

40:1 —- (60:1) —- Detroit Lions
60:1 —- (25:1) —- Arizona Cardinals
80:1 —- (40:1) —- Miami Dolphins
80:1 —- (60:1) —- Houston Texans
80:1 —- (100:1) — Los Angeles Rams

100:1 — (50:1) —- Washington Redskins
100:1 — (80:1) —- Jacksonville Jaguars
100:1 — (80:1) —- Los Angeles Chargers
100:1 — (80:1) —- New Orleans Saints
200:1 — (50:1) —- Cincinnati Bengals
300:1 — (80:1) —- Buffalo Bills
500:1 — (25:1) —- Indianapolis Colts
500:1 — (100:1) — Chicago Bears
500:1 — (300:1) — Cleveland Browns
500:1 — (300:1) — San Francisco 49ers

9999:1 — (100:1) — New York Jets

Patriots 2017 Opponents, Five First Impressions of the Chiefs

Steve Balestrieri
September 5, 2017 at 9:36 am ET

The Patriots, as well as the 2017 NFL season, kicks off with a Thursday night prime time matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. The game will be televised nationally by NBC with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth on the call and Michelle Tafoya handling sideline duties. Kickoff is slated for 8:30 p.m.

The Patriots begin their quest to defend their Super Bowl LI title and are the last team to successfully win back-to-back titles in 2003-2004. The team will unfurl their fifth Super Bowl banner prior to the game and have asked that fans be seated by 8:00 p.m. for the festivities planned.

The Chiefs (12-4) won the AFC West and were the AFC’s #2 seed heading into the playoffs. But they lost a home playoff tilt to Pittsburgh 18-16 or they would have met the Patriots in Foxboro for the AFC Championship. In a salary cap move, the team jettisoned former #1 wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in the offseason, feeling that 2nd-year player Tyreek Hill is more than ready to assume the mantle as their top receiver. Tight End Travis Kelce had 85 catches for 1125 yards and four TDs.

Tyreek Hill is the Chiefs “X-Factor” on Offense: When the two teams meet on Thursday night, all eyes will be on the Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill. He’s the new #1 wide receiver in just his second year and can do it all. In his press conference on Monday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the Patriots have to be ready for everything.

“I’m sure they have a lot of different ways to use him and he’s a very versatile player,” Belichick said. “He can run, he can catch … I’m sure they use him a decoy. He’s a very explosive player.”

“I don’t know exactly where he’ll be, but you certainly have to be conscious of him whenever he’s on the field,” Belichick added.

Hill loves playing in prime-time games and relishes his chance to shine in them.  He shined last season on a Sunday night at Denver, when he became the first rookie since Gale Sayers to score a touchdown by rushing, receiving and kick return. In another prime-time game against the Raiders, he caught a 36-yard touchdown pass and had a 78-yard punt return for a score.

Then Christmas night against the Broncos, Hill gashed their division rivals for a 70-yard touchdown run.

“I’m always trying to make the big play under the lights because everyone’s watching,” Hill said. And everyone will be watching him on Thursday.

The Chiefs Have Invested Heavily in Their  Defense: Kansas City the past several years has pumped a lot of money into their defense. In fact, their salary cap money tied to the defense is nearly 2-1 in favor of the defensive side of the ball. And it shows.

Justin Houston, the Chiefs linebacker has struggled with knee injuries the past two years but is reportedly healthy finally and looking to recapture the form where in 2014, he led the NFL with 22 sacks. He and Derrick Johnson, and Dee Ford gives the Chiefs the pressure they’ll need to compete again in a very tough division.

The team thought enough of Bennie Logan, that they allowed Dontari Poe to walk in free agency this spring. And with the Chiefs defense, they have one of the top corners in the NFL with Marcus Peters. Safety Eric Berry returns this season as well.

Since the 2013 season, the Chiefs defense is second only to the Seahawks allowing just 18.5 points per game.

There is No QB Controversy With KC, Alex Smith is the Man: When the Chiefs drafted Patrick Mahomes this spring, many predicted that the writing was on the wall for the steady, but unspectacular Alex Smith. And while Mahomes dazzled in the preseason, Andy Reid and the Chiefs coaching staff are sticking with Smith, at least for this season as the best chance to getting KC a deep playoff run.

Many Chiefs insiders have stated that despite the hype, Smith is still ahead of Mahomes by a wide margin. “Alex is so far advanced from the mental side,” GM Brett Veach said, “in regards to his ability to read coverages, to shift to better plays and really play the chess game. He’s so far ahead of what Pat is.”

Chiefs fans will have to be patient and let the rookie develop. In the meantime, Smith trudges along, and for the most part underappreciated. But rather than sulk about his successor being drafted, Smith relished his role. He has been a big help for the rookie and has doubled down on his own efforts at improving. It speaks volumes to his professionalism and to Reid’s staff.

Spencer Ware’s Injury Opens the Door for Kareem Hunt: The Chiefs, like the Patriots suffered an injury to a key member of their offense. The KC running game was supposed to funnel mainly thru Spencer Ware in 2017.  But after the talented back tore his PCL/LCL this summer, he was lost for the season. But also like the Patriots and their loss of Julian Edelman, the injury at least happened early enough for the team to be able to adjust accordingly. The next man up for the Chiefs is Kareem Hunt.

Hunt is a rookie from Toledo that had a terrific summer for Reid and the Chiefs. He brings a nice blend of power, speed and elusiveness to the backfield and behind a good offensive line should be primed to have a good season in KC. He’s a patient runner that reads the play and flow well and is a very good blocker in the passing game.

He’ll be backed up by veterans Charcandrick West and C.J. Spiller in the backfield. Teams ran at the Patriots middle this summer. It will be interesting to see how the Chiefs use Hunt on Thursday night.

Steven Nelson’s Injury Opens Up Questions at Corner: We already mentioned that the Chiefs have one of the NFL’s best corners in Peters. They lost a very talented youngster in Steven Nelson to IR, but hope that he’ll be able to return later this season.

But that doesn’t help them in the meantime and specifically on Thursday night. Who will the Chiefs play opposite Peters when facing Brady and the Patriots offense?  KC will probably opt for veteran Phillip Gaines who they drafted in the 3rd round 2014. He was a starter early in 2015 but suffered an ACL injury and was lost for much of the season. He came back late in the year but struggled, which isn’t rare since it takes a good 12-18 months to regain one’s strength and mobility. Now he’s back and seemingly fully back to where he was.

The other option would be to use veteran Terrance Mitchell. Mitchell was a player who bounced around a bit and found a home in Kansas City. The Chiefs used him as the nickel/slot corner and he played extremely well for them down the stretch and into the playoffs. Odds are, Reid leaves him right where he’s at, but they could do some mixing and matching depending on the matchups. Of course, nothing helps the secondary and cornerback play like a pass rush and with Houston back, the Chiefs will be looking to bring the pressure.

Check back with us later tomorrow as we’ll have a breakdown of the matchups between the Chiefs and the Patriots on what promises to be a very good kickoff to the NFL season.  

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Daily Notebook: Friday Patriots News and Notes 4/21

Ian Logue
April 21, 2017 at 5:00 am ET

It’s Friday, and we’ve made it through another week.  With the weekend now within reach, here’s a look at today’s top stories.

Full 2017 Schedule Now Available – Thursday night revealed how the 2017 Patriots season will play out, and there’s no better feeling than being able to start circling games and looking at how the road to Minneapolis might play out.

The season kicks off with a Thursday night battle with the Chiefs, with five of their first eight games played at Gillette Stadium before the bye, which falls right in the middle of the season in Week 9.

Their first game on the road will come in Week 2 against the Saints, followed by two home games against the Texans and Panthers.  After that, they play  two of their next three on national television, including a Thursday night match-up against the Buccaneers. In-between their next game under the lights is a 1:00pm game at MetLife Stadium against the Jets.  But they’re back on prime time the following week in a Super Bowl rematch at home against the Falcons, followed by a 1:00pm home game against Los Angeles.  After that, comes their bye, which comes on the weekend of November 5th.

But from there, they’ve got a ruthless stretch and the only break they got from the NFL was the fact they’ll at least have their bye to prepare for it.  They play five of their next six games on the road, including a tough stretch to begin their second-half run.

Coming off the bye, they’ll head to Denver to take on the Broncos on Sunday night football on November 12th, which ends up not only being a tough game for a Patriots team that never seems to have much luck there, but it’s the first of two games in tough conditions.

From there, they head out to Mexico City the following Sunday at 4:25pm to take on the Oakland Raiders.  Coming off of a game where they’re playing at 5,238 feet above sea level, they’ll endure the challenge of playing another 2,000 feet higher south of the border, so it will be interesting to see how Bill Belichick handles that week from a practice/preparation standpoint.

After that, they get one game at Gillette Stadium against Miami before heading back out on the road for games against the Bills, Dolphins and Steelers, before finishing out the season at home against the Bills on Christmas Eve and the Jets on New Years eve.

Overall, when you look at how difficult the final two months of the season are going to be, it will be an incredible badge of honor if New England repeats their normal success over that span.  Those games against the Raiders and the Broncos won’t be easy, with Oakland no longer a pushover and Denver always giving the Patriots fits when the game is in their home stadium.  Then it’s three games against Division opponents who know them better than anyone, followed by a trip to Pittsburgh, and then back home to play two more Division games.

The schedule makers did them no favors and it’s obvious that on paper, this will easily be one of the toughest schedules they’ll play as they try and repeat as champions. Every game after the Bye could potentially have playoff importance since every one is against a Conference opponent. To take it a step further, should any of those teams surprise everyone and contend for the AFC East, they’ll become that much more critical.

Obviously a lot will change before the beginning of the season and even more will be different by the time those final weeks get here.  Either way, it should make for another fun ride that can’t get here fast enough.

Fans here in New England are used to haters,
especially from New York.

New York Times Editor Apologizes For Wednesday Tweet – As we all know, there’s no love lost between the people of New York and fans here in New England, who with the Giants heading back to the cellar and no hope from the Jets or Bills in sight, are forced to sit back on their couches every January and watch the Patriots make their annual run at a title.

Since it’s been going on for nearly two decades, it’s got to be irritating.  The one team who had given them any hope, the Giants, ran the one man who brought them two championships out of town without realizing maybe it wasn’t their coach that was completely to blame for their issues.  From there, the circus they just endured with Rex Ryan in Buffalo and this bizarre story from yesterday, along with the mess that is the Jets, it all must have the people in charge of the sports section apparently losing their minds.

It’s understandable.  We get it.  We have the late 80s and early 90s to look back on to appreciate what they’re going through. That would be enough to make anyone a little crazy.

So when the New York Times tried to stir the pot a little on Wednesday by comparing the crowd that showed up at the White House this time instead of their 2015 visit, it was definitely a little funny to see what transpired.

They published two photos in a tweet of the 2015 group and the one on hand this week, which they thought was significantly smaller and jumped all over it. Their point was to take a shot at the team, while also insinuating it might have been due to President Donald Trump.

While some players did skip the event for that reason, the overall premise regarding the numbers was immediately shot down after they were called out by the team for not quite having all the facts.

The Patriots’ official twitter account quickly shot back, pointing out a significant point that should have been taken into consideration.

That eventually lead to some serious back-peddling by the newspaper the next day, with the editor at least doing the right thing and owning the mistake on Thursday.

GIve him credit, there were no excuses and he completely owned it.  After all, maybe he’s a Jets fan, which would certainly explain everything since they’re enough to make anyone lose their minds.

As for the Patriots, here’s the full group photo from Wednesday:

As one fan on our forum pointed out, repeated success has had an effect on future attendance, regardless of who was president.  History has shown that the team has had high attendance in their first Super Bowl win after droughts in-between.

They had 51 players visit following their first title in 2002, and 50 in 2015, which came a decade after their previous visit back in 2005.

As our member, Palm Beach Pats Fan, pointed out on our forum, the “been there, done that” factor came into play for players who had already visited, seeing a big drop off in the years following when they won multiple championships.

White House Attendance:
2002: 51 players showed up to meet Bush
2004: 36 players showed up to meet Bush
2005: 27 players showed up to meet Bush
2015: 50 players showed up to meet Obama
2017: 34 players showed up to meet Trump

As he points out, since virtually no one besides Brady had won a title back in 2015, that explains the higher attendance.  When there are large numbers of players who have already enjoyed the experience, more of them are likely to enjoy what little time they get to themselves during the offseason and skip it.

The numbers don’t lie, and it was a reminder of the type of confusion winning five titles creates in other cities.   Crazy stuff.

Kellerman Felt Patriots Should Have Boycotted Trip – Max Kellerman of ESPN “First Take” is no stranger to saying inflammatory things and on Thursday he went off on another rant about Rob Gronkowski’s humorous drop-in on Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Kellerman wasn’t impressed with Gronkowski dropping in on Spicer this week.

Kellerman felt that what Gronkowski did normalizes the behavior of Spicer, of whom Kellerman is obviously not a fan and he felt they shouldn’t have been there at all.

Here’s what he had to say via BreitBart.com:

When the press corps is cracking up at a press secretary because of an athlete’s presence there, so he’s lending something to the proceedings, the athlete is, and the press corps is, you know, they’re having a rollicking good time, they’re really laughing at a press secretary who in his first press conference, demonstrably lied, shot credibility, I mean your job is to establish credibility with the national media, and completely shot it since his first press conference and it’s gone downhill since there, by the way.

In a scary way, incidentally, especially when there’s a lot of uncertainty about a very unusual administration, how much authoritarian impulse is there — well, when the press secretary comes out and says what you know as a fact is not a fact because now we’re giving you alternative facts, eventually was the phrase, that’s a scary thing. Like wait, what’s going on here? They think that they can just say anything and we’re supposed to take it as true. When that guy is normalized and the press is yukking it up, that’s a very bad thing. That’s an unhealthy thing to have happened.

An unhealthy thing is also saying something repeatedly about a certain player “falling off a cliff” ability-wise, but that’s an entirely different story that we won’t get into.

Have a good weekend everyone. We’ll see you back here on Monday and in the meantime, be sure to check out Steve Balestrieri’s weekly column on Sunday morning.

Patriots announce 2017 preseason opponents

John Morgan
April 10, 2017 at 7:30 pm ET

Today the New England Patriots announced their four 2017 preseason opponents, and which weeks the Pats will be facing those teams. The specific time and dates will be revealed at a later date. Typically the NFL publishes that information prior to the league’s annual draft.

All but two NFL clubs play four preseason games. The exception is for the two teams that will play in Canton Ohio as part of the Hall of Fame weekend. This year the Dallas Cowboys will face the Arizona Cardinals in that game, which takes place on Thursday August 3rd.

The first two weeks of the preseason run from Thursday through Monday and week three goes from Thursday to Sunday. Week four is limited to Thursday and Friday nights due to the final roster cut down date. The Patriots will not have any of their preseason games televised nationally, so don’t expect any Sunday or Monday games.

The Patriots are at home in week one against Jacksonville, somewhere between August 10-14. The Jaguars are coming off a disappointing 3-13 campaign, after many pundits predicted they would make the playoffs. The Jags lost nine in a row at one point, leading to the dismissal of Gus Bradley at head coach. Tom Coughlin has come out of retirement to oversee the rebuilding process. Jacksonville ranked in the bottom ten in many categories, including points scored, points allowed and turnover differential. 2017 will be a make or break season for quarterback Blake Bortles, who regressed dramatically last year.

In week two (August 17-21) the Patriots travel to Houston. The last time we saw the Texans was in the division round of the playoffs. Bill O’Brien’s crew kept it close for a while (17-13 at halftime) but the Pats pulled away in the second half for a 34-16 victory. The Texans are another team that will be looking for development from their quarterback position. Brock Osweiler was given away for nothing in order to get out from under his contract. That leaves Tom Savage, who has just two NFL starts, at the helm for O’Brien.

Week three is the preseason game that starters receive the most playing time. Patriot season ticket holders will be disappointed to see that once again the week three game will be on the road. In the last seven years the Pats will have now played just a single preseason week three home game. New England travels to Detroit (August 24-27) for this tuneup. Similar to the Texans, the Pats have some connections to Detroit executives. Lion GM Bob Quinn was with the Patriots from 2000-2015, working his way up the ranks to Director of Pro Scouting from 2012-2015.

Bill Belichick finds joint practice sessions between teams prior to a preseason game to be very beneficial. The week two (Detroit) and week three (Houston) games appear to be prime candidates for this exercise. Unfortunately for Patriot fans both of those are on the road. Local fans may miss out on those opportunities to see players going at it up close if that comes to fruition.

Once again the final preseason game (August 31 or September 1) will be against the New York Giants, this time at Gillette Stadium. The last time the Patriots did not finish the preseason against the Giants was in 2004, when the Pats lost 31-0 to Jacksonville.


Patriot preseason opponents during the Bill Belichick era

NFC East – 30 games

Dallas Cowboys – zero games

New York Giants – 15 games
Week 4 2016 (L 17-9)
Week 4 2015 (L 12-9)
Week 4 2014 (L 16-13)
Week 4 2013 (W 28-20)
Week 4 2012 (L 6-3)
Week 4 2011 (L 18-17)
Week 4 2010 (L 20-17)
Week 4 2009 (W 38-27)
Week 4 2008 (L 19-14)
Week 4 2007 (W 27-20)
Week 4 2006 (L 31-23)
Week 4 2005 (L 27-3)
Week 1 2003 (W 26-6)
Week 1 2002 (L 22-19)
Week 1 2001 (W 24-0)

Philadelphia Eagles – 8 games
Week 2 2014 (W 42-35)
Week 1 2013 (W 31-22)
Week 2 2012 (L 27-17)
Week 1 2009 (W 27-25)
Week 3 2008 (L 27-17)
Week 1 2004 (W 24-6)
Week 3 2003 (W 24-12)
Week 2 2002 (W 16-15)

Washington Redskins – 7 games
Week 1 2014 (L 23-6)
Week 3 2009 (W 27-24)
Week 3 2006 (W 41-0)
Week 2 2003 (W 20-13)
Week 1 2002 (W 28-14)
Week 4 2001 (W 33-13)
Week 2 2000 (L 30-20)

NFC South – 22 games

Atlanta Falcons – 2 games
Week 2 2010 (W 28-10)
Week 1 2006 (L 26-23)

Carolina Panthers – 8 games
Week 3 2016 (W 19-17)
Week 3 2015 (W 17-16)
Week 3 2014 (W 30-7)
Week 3 2007 (W 24-7)
Week 3 2004 (L 20-17)
Week 3 2002 (W 23-3)
Week 2 2001 (W 23-8)
Week 4 2000 (W 29-21)

New Orleans Saints – 5 games
Week 1 2016 (W 34-22)
Week 2 2015 (W 26-24)
Week 1 2012 (W 7-6)
Week 1 2010 (W 27-24)
Week 2 2005 (L 37-27)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 7 games
Week 2 2013 (W 25-21)
Week 3 2012 (L 30-28)
Week 2 2011 (W 31-14)
Week 2 2008 (L 27-10)
Week 1 2007 (L 13-10)
Week 3 2001 (L 20-3)
Week 3 2000 (W 31-21)

NFC North – 7 games

Chicago Bears – 2 games
Week 2 2016 (W 23-22)
Week 4 2003 (W 38-23)

Detroit Lions – 3 games
Week 3 2013 (L 40-9)
Week 3 2011 (L 34-10)
Week 1 2010 (W 13-10)

Green Bay Packers – 2 games
Week 1 2015 (L 22-11)
Week 3 2005 (W 27-3)

Minnesota Vikings – zero games

NFC West – 3 games

Arizona Cardinals – 1 game
Week 2 2006 (W 30-3)

St. Louis Rams – 1 game
Week 3 2010 (L 36-35)

San Francisco 49ers – 1 game
2000 HoF game (W 20-0)

Seattle Seahawks – zero games

AFC North – 4 games

Baltimore Ravens – 1 game
Week 1 2008 (L 16-15)

Cincinnati Bengals – 3 games
Week 2 2009 (L 7-6)
Week 1 2005 (W 23-13)
Week 2 2004 (L 31-3)

Cleveland Browns – zero games

Pittsburgh Steelers – zero games

AFC South – 3 games

Houston Texans – zero games

Indianapolis Colts – zero games

Jacksonville Jaguars – 2 games
Week 1 2011 (W 47-12)
Week 4 2004 (L 31-0)

Tennessee Titans – 1 game
Week 2 2007 (L 27-24)

AFC West – zero games

AFC East – zero games