Swoon. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE
I realized when I woke up today that this marks the first full week of football this season - a realization that certainly makes Mondays easier to handle. We all have a full week of training camp to look forward to, followed by a weekend full of Hall of Fame Induction speeches and the official start of the 2012 preseason with the Cardinals vs. Saints Hall of Fame Game. Sure, it isn't the Patriots, but the bottom line is that there is a football game on TV this weekend, and that's just fine with me.
I said a few weeks ago that I was officially projected out when it comes to this offseason - and I still am. I don't know who is going to make the roster, how things will shake out on defense, or what this team will look like in September, and any projection I make will only serve to make me look like even more of an idiot when the exact opposite happens. I do still plan on trying to predict New England's final record a little closer to Opening Day, but when it comes to training camp and preseason, I think I'd rather just watch and observe than put the full extent of my incompetence on display for the whole world to see.
That said, however, it doesn't mean that I'm not a betting man. You give me a good wager, and I'll be right there with you almost every time. And one of my favorite betting lines is the over/under. To those of you who have a more productive, wholesome way to spend your time than gambling away a week's worth of laundry duty or bathroom cleaning on the results of a sporting event, the over/under is a number given for a particular statistic, score, or point total, and then bettors can decide whether the actual result will be higher or lower than the original number given. For example, if you were to learn that the over/under for the number of girls Alec Shane invited to his Junior Prom before he gave up and just went alone was 15, you'd be very smart to bet the over and bet it right away.
My high school woes aside, I thought it might be fun, as we continue to pay attention to training camp, do do an over/under series on the 2012 Patriots and what they may possibly accomplish.And where better to start than a man who has likely never been turned down for a date his entire life -Tommy B.
Brady is coming off one of his best seasons statistically, and all signs point to him continuing that excellence into this season. It's a new year, however, and there are definitely some pieces in place that may see Brady's numbers drop from the 39 touchdown passes he scored last year. And while I must first proclaim to the football gods that in no way am I making a prediction, guarantee, or anything else that should give them any reason to smite Tom Brady and send this team into a tailspin, I still would like to place the betting line strictly in the name of good-natured discussion and harmless conversation. So, based on his past few seasons, his earlier career, and the various offseason moves that Pats have made, I'm putting the over/under on Tom Brady's passing touchdowns for 2012 at 35.
Why you should bet the over: Brady has arguably the most offensive weapons he has ever had in his career this year. The only receiver from last season that he lost is Chad Ochocinco, and I have a funny feeling that Tommy B will be able to make up that 276 yards and a touchdown elsewhere - like in speedy deep threat Brandon Lloyd, perhaps, who was able to put together a fairly solid season last year despite playing for the woeful Rams. Between Gronk, Hernandez, Welker, Lloyd, Gaffney, Stallworth/Branch, and the receiving backs, Brady has so many options at his disposal that it's hard to imagine him falling off from last year. Plus, the return of Josh McDaniels to the coaching staff means the record setting trinity of 2007 is back in place, and this offense has all the pieces in place to be as explosive as anything we've ever seen. I definitely don't think that 40 plus touchdowns is out of the realm of possibility this year, especially based on New England's schedule.
Why you should bet the under: It's hard to believe, but Brady has actually only thrown more than 30 touchdown passes three times in his entire career. Granted, two of them came in 2010 and 2011, but other than that - and 2007, of course - Brady has usually fallen into the high-20s range with his passing touchdowns. Furthermore, we have been talking all offseason about how the recent focus on drafting running backs, acquiring bigger tight ends, and signing fullbacks could mean a shift in offensive philosophy where the Patriots become much more committed to the running game. If that's the case, Brady simply won't be throwing the ball as much, and less throws usually translates into less touchdowns.
So what do you think? Will Tommy B throw more than 35 touchdowns this year or less?