The New England Patriots finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 last season.
What followed the highest draft pick the Pats have had in recent memory.
The Patriots selected Alabama quarterback Mac Jones 15th overall with that pick, and now the question becomes: Will Mac Jones be the starting quarterback when the 2021 NFL season kicks off? Or will the incumbent Cam Newton get the start?
New England Patriots quarterback odds are now live at online sportsbook Sportsbook.
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New England Patriots quarterback odds
Odds as of August 19 at Sportsbook
Jones, the fifth quarterback taken in the 2021 NFL Draft, had his share of detractors heading into the draft process. Many believe he was propped up by an otherworldly receiving corps and roster at Alabama while others were concerned that he could not beat out Tua Tagovailoa in 2019 for a starting quarterback job.
Nonetheless, Jones had an incredible 2020 campaign, throwing 40 touchdowns and just four interceptions with a 77.4 percent completion rate and a mind-boggling 203.1 efficiency rating.
However, if recent history is any indication, there is a good chance Jones sits to start the year. Not only do coaches usually default to a veteran as a starter over a rookie at any position, but 12 of the 18 quarterbacks selected in the first round in the previous five drafts sat in Week 1 as rookies.
That list includes the likes of No. 1 picks Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield, not to mention Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert. The market has Mac Jones’ odds to start Week 1 pretty long at +250.
In the Patriots first preseason game, Jones took over for the starter Newton and got the bulk of the work. Jones finished 13/19 for 87 yards and no scores.
Cam Newton was signed to a one-year deal in July 2020 after nearly three months on the market as a free agent and was named the starter right before last season.
The former MVP then went on to start 15 of 16 games and had the worst statistical season of his career. The Patriots clearly designed the offense around Newton’s rushing ability and went out of their way to limit his pass attempts. The result was just eight passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 15 games with a 66 percent completion rate (surprisingly the highest of his career), a 47 QBR and the lowest yardage totals of his career.
To be fair to Newton, he missed the team’s Week 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs after testing positive for COVID-19 and admitted later that he never really felt 100 percent for the rest of the year. The Patriots also had one of the worst groups of offensive weapons in the league in 2020, especially after losing receiver Julian Edelman to injury.
Newton was listed as the teams starter on their first depth chart, and started the first preseason game. He went 4/7 for 45 yards in one quarter of action.
When it comes to New England Patriots quarterback odds, the best bet has to be on Newton at -400. Betting on Newton at -400 gives us implied odds of 80 percent.
Not only is history not on the side of Jones making the first start of the year, but Newton is a competent alternative. In recent instances where a first-round quarterback started in Week 1 of his rookie season, it was almost always because the team had no other option, or deliberately added nothing to the roster in terms of viable competition. Think Kyler Murray or Joe Burrow.
That is not the case here. The Pats and coach Bill Belichick are clearly comfortable with Newton and have no reason to rush Jones.
It would be surprising if the Pats don't turn to Jones at some point this season. But for Week 1, it should be Newton.