There was once a time when there were teams in the National Football League that seemed immune from the off-field problems of their players. Teams like New England, Pittsburgh and San Francisco were becoming poster children of how to keep players in line when they were on the line of scrimmage.
Those days are long over in Pittsburgh and now New England has even been penetrated by negative off-field news and this is far from just a ‘minor issue.’
An arrest warrant is expected today for Patriots’ tight end Aaron Hernandez on a charge of obstruction of justice. Hernandez is at the very least going to be in in trouble for destroying evidence such as home video surveillance equipment and a cell phone. Those charges could be ramped up if further evidence implicates him in the death of a friend and semi-pro football player who Hernandez was with just hours before he was believed to have died.
This is the cherry on a sundae of odd and unfortunate happenings in New England of late and taken as a whole, you have to consider strongly whether you feel the Patriots can remain a solid contender for the AFC East title, the AFC Title and a Super Bowl Title.
- Gronkowski is expected to be on the PUP list to start the season leaving the Pats with fewer weapons.
Much was going to be expected of Hernandez going into the season considering that his fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski is coming off both back and yet another forearm surgery. ‘Gronk’ is expected to start the season on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) List. Also this month the Pats’ signed Tim Tebow who was thought to be done with his NFL career at least as a quarterback. New England claims he was signed as a QB and that’s where he reportedly worked during the team’s mini-camp last week.
I’d be re-miss if I didn’t mention that Patriots’ owner Bob Kraft is also missing a Super Bowl ring which he alleges was taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting. Putin claims it was a gift and the ring is now in a library in Russia. While this may not impact what happens on the field in 2013, it is however just another sign that the normally infallible Patriots are taking shots from all sides.
Right now over at bovada.com, if you look at the over/under for expected win totals by NFL teams this season you’ll notice they are listed in alphabetical order and when you get down to the “N’s” you find no New England Patriots. There is a clear reason for that because until more is known about Hernandez’s playing status, it would not be in your best interest to wager on them. With no Hernandez, no Gronkowski and oh ya, now Wes Welker, this offense looks more and more less potent.
The Patriots are still currently listed at 8/1 to win the Super Bowl which puts them behind San Francisco and Denver. I fully expect those odds to drop over the coming weeks. They are also listed at 3/1 to win the AFC and are listed only behind Denver. I would have to expect those numbers to change as well.
The good news for the Patriots is that the AFC East is not expected to be overly challenging. The New York Jets are in a potentially ugly QB situation while Buffalo is dealing with a new coach and QB questions of their own. Only the Miami Dolphins appear to be a challenge right now with what they’ve done in free agency but they have a second-year QB from whom much is expected.
Any way you slice it, the Patriots are in unfamiliar territory right now and these individual events grouped together signal serious caution for you and your wagering possibilities.